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

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.

UEFA Cup 2008-09 - Lech Poznań vs. Udinese

UEFA Cup 2008-09 - Round of 32, 1st Leg - Lech Poznań 2-2 Udinese

Thursday was a particularly cold night in Poland, especially with latest wave of sub-zero weather hitting Eastern Europe the last few days. The snowfall, albeit moderate (and remedied in part by pre-match shovelers), left a rather difficult pitch to play on, something which the superiorly technical Udinese player were having a difficult time with. Especially since Marino’s team playing style is mainly oriented towards short-passing, speed, and counter-attacks. Tactically, the Bianconeri manager kept with Italian tradition at keeping separate domestic & European teams, and thus fielded a 4-4-2 line-up with Sanchez & Quagliarella up front. Pepe & Di Natale were left on the bench.

The first half, much like the scoreline, ended up being a rather balanced affair. The biggest chance for the visitors came a short while after kick-off, from the feet of Inler and Quagliarella: home keeper Ivan Turina was vigilant to keep the ball out. On the other end Handanovic was called into action only once really, rushing out to close down Lewandowski. 0-0 at the break, with the impression this Polish rearguard was anything but impenetrable.

Udinese's Fabio Quagliarella (R) and Maurizio Domizzi celebrate a goal against Lech Poznan during their UEFA Cup soccer match in Poznan February 19, 2009. (REUTERS)

Impressions which were confirmed in the second period, with a quick Udinese one-two which brought the scoreline to 1-0 and 2-0 within minutes: first goal by Quagliarella (D’Agostino free-kick and free header by Fab Quags), the second by Arboleda into his own net (unfortunate deflection after a parried shot from Pasquale). Always great to score two away goals in cold soil right?

Sadly, Udinese’s lead goals vanished minutes from the end as quickly as they arrived. First, a Lewandowski cross-shot from the right side turned into a cushy assist for Hernán Rengifo camping on the second post. 2-1. Under three minutes later, a corner-kick deflected by Asamoah landed towards Manuel Arboleda, and the Colombian center-back had the perfect opportunity to make up for his earlier mistake. And did not fail it: winning header and 2-2. Such a shame for Udinese, even though the final scoreline still puts them at a slight advantage for the return leg.

Udinese Calcio's Gokhan Inler, left, and Bartosz Bosacki of Lech Poznan fight for the ball during their UEFA Cup round of 32 first leg soccer match in Poznan, Poland, Thursday Feb. 19, 2009. (AP Photo by ALIK KEPLICZ)


Lech Poznań
[Match Highlights]
 Udinese Calcio
GOALSCORERS: 50′ Quagliarella (U), 55′ Arboleda o.g. (U), 81’ Rengifo (L), 84’ Arboleda (L).
LECH (4-2-3-1): Turina – Wojtkowiak, Bosacki, Arboleda, Djurdjevic – Injac, Murawski – Lewandowski, Stilic, Wilk (67’ Bandrowski) – Rengifo. (bench: Kotorowski, Kikut, Kucharski, Henriquez, Tanevski, Cueto). Coach: Smuda.
UDINESE (4-4-2): Handanovic – Zapata, Coda, Domizzi, Pasquale – Isla (73’ Obodo), Inler, D’Agostino, Asamoah – Sanchez (86’ Pepe), Quagliarella. (bench: Belardi, Sala, Felipe, Zimling, Di Natale). Coach: Marino.


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