Sampdoria 0-1 Metalist: An Ukrainian Surprise in Genoa (UEFA Cup Round of 32, 1st Leg)

Sampdoria's Antonio Cassano reacts during their UEFA Cup soccer match against Metalist at the Ferraris stadium in Genoa February 18, 2009.  (REUTERS)

As top mediocre decent-but-not-quite-decent-enough clubs of Europe gathered to play UEFA Cup’s Round of 32 Wednesday night, Sampdoria vs. Metalist Kharkiv stood out like the a bad note during a melodious symphony.

For a team who had not lost at home for 12 consecutive European games and who eliminated clubs like FC Sevilla to get to this stage of the competition, the Blucerchiati sure dropped from very high up today. In a performance almost diametrically opposed to the one in Turin, Cassano & friends played an uninspired game, with no energy or verve. Even the two doubtful penalty non-calls in the second half (foul on Bellucci and handball in the box) aren’t enough to justify a lacklaster performance, and it will take Mazzarri some serious work next Thursday (February 26) to overturn a 1-0 deficit no pundit would have expected prior to this match.

UEFA Cup 2008-09 - Sampdoria vs. Metalist

UEFA Cup 2008-09 - Round of 32, 1st Leg - Sampdoria 0-1 Metalist

The first half was almost surreal, in that Samdporia were trying as best they could to set the game alight but were always finding an attentive Ukrainian backline to deny them. Marco Padalino & Antonio Cassano were the only ones in higher gear, especially the former who on account of his two scoring opportunities (one wide, one broken down by the keeper) could have written a whole other story for this match. On the other end Metalist replied with long balls, principally for Jajá (nickname for Brazilian striker Jackson Avelino Coelho) and Slyusar, whose missed open-net chance (blast over the bar from 6 yards) seemed to strongly indicate this match would have to be resolved in the second half.

Not so. Just in the third minute of stoppage time (the referee had announced only two by the way) Padalino lost a ball on the edge of his box, allowing Metalist to send in the cross from the left wing: Denys Oliynyk towering header left Castellazzi no chance, 1-0 Metalist.

Metalist's Denys Oliynyk celebrates after scoring against Sampdoria during their UEFA Cup soccer match at the Ferraris stadium in Genoa February 18, 2009.  (REUTERS)

In the second half, Mazzarri ordered his troops to up the tempo (& aggression) which resulted in a more frequent presence in the Ukrainian box. Speaking of, Bellucci should even have been awarded a penalty after being pushed down in it, but his claims were unsuccessful. As time passed however, it became more and more evident Sampdoria were really missing the presence of a physical striker, aka Giampaolo Pazzini. Unfortunately having already appeared with Fiorentina in the UCL, the Viola player was cup-tied for this match.

The substitutions of Sammarco, Pieri and “Primavera” youngster Marilungo did little to change the story of the match. In fact, the hardest save of the second half came once again from Castellazzi, pouncing well to deny Olinyk’s header from close range. After yet another penalty denied in the final minutes (suspicious handball inside the box) the match ended, leaving Sampdoria to ponder on their mistakes and their chances of qualification next week.

Sampdoria's Marco Padalino (R) helps his teammate Antonio Cassano during their UEFA Cup soccer match against Metalist at the Ferraris stadium in Genoa February 18, 2009. (REUTERS)


 U.C. Sampdoria
[Match Highlights]
 FC Metalist Kharkiv
GOALSCORERS: 45′ Oliynyk (M).
SAMPDORIA (3-5-2): Castellazzi – Stankevicius, Lucchini, Raggi – Ma.Padalino, Dessena (58’ Sammarco), Palombo, Franceschini (58’ Pieri), Ziegler (74’ Marilungo) – Cassano, Bellucci. (bench: Mirante, Mustacchio, Ferri, Da Costa). Coach: Mazzarri.
METALIST KHARKIV (4-5-1): Goryainov – Maidana, Obradovic, Gueye, Bordian – Valyayev, Edmar (92’ Gancarczyk), Rykun (89’ Berezovchuk), Oliynyk, Sliusar, Jajá (79’ Devic). (bench: Bazhan, Konyushenko, Barilko, Zézé). Coach: Markevich.


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Posted in Sampdoria, UEFA Cup |

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