UEFA Cup First Round, 1st Leg – Palermo & Empoli win, Fiorentina & Sampdoria tie

UEFA CupFor the 1st Leg of UEFA Cup’s First Round (before the Group Stage begins at the end of October), mixed success for the Italian clubs today. Two the clubs with the 3 points: Palermo and Empoli. The Rosanero managed to steal away the win by scoring in the 90th in Czech Republic, thanks to a goal by Bosko Jankovic. Meanwhile Empoli beat FC Zürich 2-1 at home, courtesy of Felice Piccolo and Luca Antonini. The other Serie A clubs Fiorentina and Sampdoria couldn’t obtain more than 1 point today. Fiorentina tied their away game against Dutch club Groningen (only goal for the Viola by Franco Semioli), while Sampdoria got stopped at home by Danish team Aalborg (goals by Gennaro Delvecchio and Claudio Bellucci).

UEFA Cup day 1 - Palermo & Empoli win, Fiorentina & Sampdoria tie

An offensively abulic and timid in terms of playmaking Palermo managed to grab all 3 points today on the home field of Czech club Mlada Boleslav. The Rosanero have their Serbian midfielder Bosko Jankovic to thank for it, who delivered the Genoan club with a valuable goal late into stoppage time. The final result however does not accurately represent how things went down betweeen the two clubs today, as Mlada Boleslav had the game in their hands through most of the 90 minutes. However, their strikers’ lack of accuracy and the somewhat attentive Palermo defense had maintained the 0-0 scoreline through most of the game. 92 minutes to be exact.

Fabio Caserta, age 28Palermo manager Stefano Colantuono had (as predicted by the media) decided to field the novel attacking duo Cavani-Brienza, with the support of Jankovic and Bresciano on the wings. The offensive mix however never really started fizzing, instead allowing the Czechs to slowly take possession of midfield and thereby the majority of scoring chances. The Mlada team tried their best to exploit their physical advantage (the incredible height of Rolko and Mendy), but the Sicilian defense remained attentive and cleared out the danger whenever it presented itself. The only real chance before the half came from Ivo Taborsky, who sent shivers down the spines of the very few Palermo supporters who had travelled to Prague for the game.

In the 2nd half, no changes on either side and the game resumed exactly where it had left off: with Palermo defending and Mlada attacking. The Czechs attempted to obtain the first goal once again (through Taborsky and Matejovksy notable) but with no success. Palermo’s problems meanwhile were becoming all too evident, especially in midfield where the team failed to retain possession for any significant period of time. Colantuono attempted a few changes to instill some energy in his team (Caserta on for Brienza, Amauri for Bresciano) thereby also changing his formation to 4-3-3, but with little effect. When the goalless scoreline seemed pretty much certain, Caserta made one final push down the left wing and crossed the ball perfectly for Jankovic in front of the net. The Rosanero winger simply had to finish it with an instep shot. 1-0 Palermo, and a good omen for the 2nd leg in two weeks.


 FK Mladá Boleslav
 U.S. Città di Palermo
GOALSCORERS: 92’ Jankovic (P)
MLADA BOLESLAV (4-4-2): Miller – Vorisek, Rolko, Kopic, Hrdlicka – Mendy (67’ Kalina), Matejovsky, Rajnoc, Sedlacek – Taborsky (90’ Reznicek), Kysela. (bench: Pizanowski, Holub, Polacek, Brunclik, Vanecek). Coach: Scasny
PALERMO (4-4-2): Agliardi – Diana, Rinaudo, Barzagli, Zaccardo – Bresciano (68’ Amauri), Gio.Tedesco (86’ Simplicio), Migliaccio, Jankovic – Brienza (61’ Caserta), Cavani. (bench: Ujkani, Cossentino, Guana, Miccoli). Coach: Colantuono


Five years and nine months had passed since Fiorentina’s last appearance in the UEFA Cup: the return to Europe for the Viola team went fairly well if we consider they obtained a draw in a difficult away game to Dutch team FC Groningen.

The 1st period was completely dominated by the home team, and it wasn’t surprising to see Jon Rans’s men get first on the scoreboard through a beautiful goal by Goran Lovré (allowed to easily place a powerful header out of Sebastien Frey‘s reach, with no close marking from the nearby defenders). Fiorentina was struggling to get anything concrete done, especially because Fabio Liverani seemed to lack offensive and passing options in front of him.

Franco Semioli celebrates his goalIn the 2nd half, Cesare Prandelli made a few changes that gave the Viola a little bit more verve (Kuzmanovic for Pazienza, and Pazzini for Vieri). 21 minutes into the second period, Riccardo Montolivo provided a filtering pass for Franco Semioli, who in the blink of an eye managed to wipe clean his terrible performance thus far, and provide the finish for the equalizing goal. 1-1. An important tally for the Viola, who will have everything to play for in the return leg at Stadio Artemio Franchi of Florence on October 4.


FC Groningen
 ACF Fiorentina
GOALSCORERS: 26’ Lovré (G), 65’ Semioli (F)
GRONINGEN (4-4-2): Van Loo – Silva, Sankoh, Kruiswijk, Stenman – Lindgren, Levchenko, Meerdink, Lovré – Nevland (91’ Kolder), Nyland (73’ Van de Laak). (bench: Luciano, Matthijs, Metaj, Fledderus, Rozema). Coach: Jans.
FIORENTINA (4-3-3): Frey – Ujfalusi, Gamberini, Kroldrup, Pasqual – Pazienza (46’ Kuzmanovic), Liverani, Montolivo – Semioli, Vieri (57’ Pazzini), Mutu .(bench: Lupatelli, Dainelli, Donadel, Balzaretti, Osvaldo). Coach: Prandelli.

Meanwhile, Sampdoria obtained an unlucky 2-2 draw in an otherwise well-played match, although their Danish opponents must be praised because they turned out to be far more dangerous than was expected earlier in the day.

Gennaro Delvecchio after Sampdoria’s 1st goalBoth teams chose to play the match with an offensive mentality, which resulted in a quite enjoyable spectacle to watch. At the 17′ minute mark, Samp went ahead thanks to a Gennaro Delvecchio tackling finish, aided by a deflected free kick of Paolo Sammarco. The Swedish team however equalized very shortly after through an absolute missile free-kick of Rade Prica, that eluded a forest of legs before finishing its course low into the right-bottom corner of keeper Luca Castellazzi‘s goal.

In the 2nd half, Aalborg went ahead against the run of play: another long-range piledriver was deflected in the box, sending Castellazi the wrong way and nullifying his attempt to stop the ball from entering the net. 2-1 Aalborg. However, cue the Vincenzo Montella rescue: on for Delvecchio, the ex-Fulham striker provided notable added quality to the Samp offense and was at the heart of the play that gave the Blucerchiati the equalizer. Claudio Belucci & Vincenzo Montella - the magic combination for the Blucerchiati’s 2nd goalFollowing a great dribble, Montella found the time to cross the ball for Claudio Bellucci, who powered the header for the 2-2 scoreline.

Ensued a veritable shooting gallery exercise by Sampdoria onto the Danish goal, which unfortunately could not produce any other goals. 2-2 the final score, and a difficult task for Walter Mazzarri‘s men in two weeks.

 U.C. Sampdoria
 Aalborg BK
GOALSCORERS: 18’ G.Delvecchio (S), 20’ Prica (A), 55 Johansson (A), 59’ Bellucci (S)
SAMPDORIA (3-4-2-1): Castellazzi – Gastaldello, Palombo, Bastrini (37′ st Pieri) – C.Zenoni (65’ Volpi), Sammarco, D.Franceschini, Ziegler – G.Delvecchio (55’ Montella), Bellucci – Caracciolo. (bench: Mirante, Calzolaio, Lanzoni, Foti). Coach: Mazzarri.
AALBORG (4-4-1-1): Zaza– Olesen, Califf, M.Jakobsen, Pedersen – Curth, Risgard, Augustinussen, Enevoldsen; Johansson – Prica. (bench: Jensen, Olfers, J.R.Jakobsen, Vilakazi, Caca, Lindstrom, Schwartz). Coach: Hamren.


Finally, Empoli managed to obtain the win in their home game vs. Swiss club FC Zurich, but conceded a goal late in the 2nd half that could prove costly in the second leg in Switzerland.

Luca Antonini does the “baby cradle” celebration after his goalGigi Cagni‘s men dominated most of the game, especially the 1st half which resulted in the best scoring opportunities for Empoli. Felice Piccolo‘s goal in the 44th was only the culmination of a series of near-goal missed chances that the home team had obtained in the first period.

At the restart, the agility and skill of Luca Antonini gave Empoli another attempt at goal when the midfielder was fouled in the box and transformed his own penalty for the 2-0 mark. However 15 minutes from the end, the tired Empoli defense gave too much space to Swiss substitute Alexandre Alphonse (just on for 4 minutes) who obliged the courtesy with a reduction of the lead. The 2-1 final scoreline keeps FC Zurich’s qualification hopes alive.

 Empoli F.C.
 FC Zürich
GOALSCORERS: 44’ Piccolo (E), 49’ pen. Antonini (E), 74’ Alphonse (Z)
EMPOLI (4-4-2): Bassi – Iacoponi (83’ Raggi), Marzoratti, Piccolo, Rincon (38′ st Eder) – Abate, Prevete, Marchisio, Antonini (86’ Vanigli) – Pozzi, Volpato. (bench: Balli, D.Moro, Giacomazzi, Giovinco). Coach: Cagni
FC ZURICH (4-4-2): Leoni – Stahel, Barmettler, Rochat, Schneider – Chikhaoui, Tico, Kondè, Abdi – Raffael, Hassli (70’ Alphonse). (bench: Guatelli, Lampi, Staubli, Kollar, Schonbachler, Gaschi). Coach: Challandes



Posted in Empoli, Fiorentina, Palermo, Sampdoria, UEFA Cup |

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  • 6 Responses to “UEFA Cup First Round, 1st Leg – Palermo & Empoli win, Fiorentina & Sampdoria tie”

    1. Carlo says:

      Thank God for Jankovic!!! :cool: I was almost having an heart attack watching the game! :oops:

    2. Genny says:

      Bad result for Sampdoria… I don’t understand why Mazzarri left Montella out, and why Cassano hasn’t been playing!!! :evil: :evil:

    3. Martha says:

      Did you actually watch the games? HOW?! I failed miserably to find a single stream that would work for the Viola game.

      (And Genny, Cassano is hurt — he injured a leg during the international break, during a friendly match specifically designed to help him get his fitness back. Doh!)

    4. Even my tolerance for pain has limits Martha. I am NOT sitting though a whole 90 minutes of Mlada Boleslav, Groningen, Aalborg or FC Zurich, regardless of who they are playing (I might make a small exception for Juve, but that’s pushing it).

      No, I watched the highlights and filled in the rest with the Gazzetta articles.

      And Genny, I didn’t understand either why Montella didn’t start. Maybe he was having a slight injury problem and couldn’t hold for 90 minutes. For Cassano, cf what Martha said.

    5. Genny says:

      Ah I see, thanks Martha. Any news on the length of his recovery?

    6. Martha says:

      He suffered the injury on Sept 9 or 10, Genny, and is supposed to be out 2-4 weeks. I’ve not heard any updates since that weekend, though.