Posts Tagged ‘UEFA Cup’

Udinese 2-1 Lech Poznań: Bianconeri Hanging Tight, Keep Italy’s Presence Alive (UEFA Cup Round of 32, 2nd Leg)

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Udinese's Simone Pepe, right, celebrates with his teammates Gokhan Inler of Switzerland, during the UEFA Cup, Round of 32, second-leg soccer match between Udinese and Lech Poznan, at the Friuli Stadium in Udine , Italy, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009.  (AP Photo)

After their nasty performance in Turin and receiving the heavy criticisms of big boss Giampaolo Pozzo, Udinese can breathe some fresh air again. European air. For not only did they turn a 1-0 half-time deficit over Lech Poznań into a 2-1 victory (and subsequent qualification to the UEFA Cup’s round of 16), they are also the only Italian team to have won in Europe this week. Who would have thought?

It was a tale of two halves, in which the Bianconeri struggled considerably after conceding Rengifo’s goal and which almost mimicked the final 10 minutes of the first leg. However, Marino’s team then picked up it with verve & rage in the second 45 minutes, grabbing goals through Pepe and Di Natale. Udinese will now face the current champions, Zenit St. Petersburg, in the next round, and given the things (as many good as bad ones) this team is capable of, we can only hope their European adventure will not end there.

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Metalist 2-0 Sampdoria: Unmotivated Blucerchiati Say Bye-Bye to Europe (UEFA Cup Round of 32, 2nd Leg)

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Metalist players celebrate after scoring a goal against Sampdoria during their UEFA Cup soccer match in Kharkiv February 26, 2009.  (REUTERS)

Motivation. A determining factor in sports games, and one that can often turn the tide of insurmountable odds in your favor. A factor that was also completely absent from the minds of Sampdoria‘s players Wednesday, as they travelled to Ukraine’s Metalist in the hopes of overturning a 0-1 first leg deficit.

Indeed by taking a look at the team sheets right before even the match had started, it was very clear Mazzarri & friends had travelled to Kharkiv primarily out of fairplay: Cassano, Palombo, and Delvecchio had all stayed in Genoa, with only the latter on the injury list. With the incumbent match against Milan this week-end and next week’s Coppa Italia fixture vs. Inter, something’s gotta give: the UEFA Cup evidently, wasn’t high on the Blucerchiati priority list this year.

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Fiorentina 0-1 Ajax: Van Basten Conquers Firenze (UEFA Cup Round of 32, 1st Leg)

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Fiorentina's Adrian Mutu reacts during their UEFA Cup soccer match against Ajax Amsterdam at the A. Franchi stadium in Florence February 19, 2009.

To say that Marco Van Basten shares a special bond with Italy would be like the understatement of the century: his biggest achievements as a player (including the 3 Ballon d’Or and 2 Champions League titles) came during the years spent in the peninsula (as I’m sure AC Milan fans remember fondly). However, since he hung up his boots and donned a sleek Giorgio Armani manager jacket (dunno if it’s Armani actually, but I’m sure he likes to keep it classy) Van Basten seems to take some sort of perverse pleasure at tormenting Italian teams. I don’t have to remind anyone about recent Euro 2008 history, right?

Well yesterday marked yet another notch in MVB’s belt. Like the creepy & mysterious uncle you never like to invite at weddings, the Dutch manager’s Ajax made a trip to the banquet (Stadio Artemio Franchi) on Thursday, blocked traffic (La Viola’s forwards) in the parking lot, ate all the hors d’oeuvres & drank all the booze (their midfield), took a big dump in the wedding cake (their defense), then proceeded to made dirty jokes about the bride (Prandelli) and left the ceremony. But not before unleashing a mean left hook right into the groom’s (Fiorentina) face.

Yeah sounds about right.

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Lech Poznań 2-2 Udinese: Wasteful Show in Poland for Quags & Co. (UEFA Cup Round of 32, 1st Leg)

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Udinese's Alexis Sanchez (R) fights for the ball against Lech Poznan's Grzegorz Wojtkowiak during their UEFA Cup soccer match at the Stadium in Poznan February 19, 2009. Fabio Quagliarella (L) looks on. (REUTERS)

Three minutes of craziness. That’s all it took Udinese to blow out their 2-0 lead vs. Lech Poznań. Three minutes of defensive hara-kiri in the last quarter which, as many times this year, cast a shadow on all the good work done by the strikers and is keeping this UEFA Cup qualification in the balance.

And such a shame too, because the Bianconeri had found the perfect way to warm up their (low number of) supporters at Stadion Miejski: two goals early into the second half which would make even the most frigid of fans excited in sub-zero Polish weather. The upside is that a 2-2 away draw is still a pretty good result for Marino’s boys, who will simply have to avoid any more disasters in the return leg at Stadio Friuli.

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Werder Bremen 1-1 AC Milan: Inzaghi for the Opener, Diego for the Finale (UEFA Cup Round of 32, 1st Leg)

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

AC Milan's (from L) Mathieu Flamini, Clarence Seedorf, Filippo Inzaghi and Andrea Pirlo celebrate a goal against Werder Bremen during their UEFA Cup soccer match in Bremen February 18, 2009.  (REUTERS)

In times of fluctuating economy, shifting weather conditions, and Blatter’s opinion of South Africa (“2010, yes or no? Should we stay or should we go?”) there is one global truth we can always be sure of today (and probably for the next 10-20 years to come): there will be goals at Weserstadion. Indeed, no other team epitomizes the lack of defensive effort coupled with goalscoring power better than Werder Bremen, and as expected Wednesday’s Round of 32 UEFA Cup tie vs. AC Milan ended with goals. No shower mind you, just 1-1, but it’s a scoreline which leaves everything open for the return leg in Milan next week.

And since we’re speaking of goals, here’s one guy that’s been scoring lots in the past decade (especially in Europe). Wednesday’s tally marked Filippo Inzaghi‘s 66th goal in European competitions, a brilliant achievement for the Milan striker who got his party spoiled by Werder’s 84th minute equalizer. An equalizer bearing the signature of another player in search of European stardom (especially in the region of Turin): Diego Ribas da Cunha.

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