UEFA Cup Group Stage: Three Out of Three for Serie A (Matchday 1)

Good operation for Italy on Matchday 1 of the UEFA Cup Group Stage. Indeed, out of the three Serie A teams still left in the competition, all of AC Milan, Udinese, and Sampdoria were victorious, achieving wins over Heerenveen (3-1), Tottenham (2-0), and Partizan Belgrade (2-1) respectively.

Not only that, but Thursday night was special because it marked a very rare event in football history: Gennaro Gattuso scored a goal! :mrgreen: And, AND… made an assist! Grande Ringhio! :)

Uefa.com reports.

Heerenveen vs. Milan


(From Uefa.com): AC Milan made a winning start to UEFA Cup Group E on a night when Filippo Inzaghi reclaimed the outright title of all-time leading scorer in European club competition. Super Pippo helped create the opener when Heerenveen midfielder Calvin Jong-A-Pin turned the ball in under pressure from the forward and Gennaro Gattuso soon added a second. With 21 minutes left Inzaghi made it three to take his personal tally in UEFA competition to 64, one more than Raúl González, prior to a Danijel Pranjić consolation from the penalty spot.

Heerenveen started brightly and peppered the Milan box with crosses before Mika Väyrynen tested Dida from distance. But just when the Dutch side seemed to be on top, they fell behind as Kaká crossed from the left and Jong-A-Pin deflected the ball past Brian Vandenbussche with Inzaghi looking to get a touch. Soon it was 2-0. Kaká was again the supplier, playing in the ball for Gattuso to convert. Slowly Trond Sollied’s men came back into the game as Tarik Elyounoussi and Goran Popov had chances.

Heerenveen went even closer in the opening ten minutes of the second period, Pranjić and Gerald Sibon bringing saves out of Dida. But as in the first half, Carlo Ancelotti’s Rossoneri soaked up the pressure before finding the net again themselves. Gattuso threaded a pass through the Heerenveen defence that set up Inzaghi to smash a shot past Vandenbussche. Inzaghi gave way to Pato, who forced Vandenbussche to tip his strike around the post, yet Heerenveen at least were rewarded with a late goal after Giuseppe Favalli fouled Paulo Henrique in the area and Pranjić slotted in the penalty. Milan welcome SC Braga on 6 November when Heerenveen go to VfL Wolfsburg.


SC Heerenveen
[Match Highlights]
 AC Milan
GOALSCORERS: 19’ Jong-A-Pin o.g. (M), 23’ Gattuso (M), 69’ F.Inzaghi (M), 85’ pen. Pranjic (H).
HEERENVEEN (3-4-3): Vandenbussche – Breuer, Dingsdag, Jong-A-Pin – Beerens, Grindheim, Vayrynen, Popov (61’ Henrique) – Elyyounoussi (61’ B.Kalou), Sibon, Pranjic. (bench: Steppe, Kopic, Bak Nielsen, Svec, Smarason). Coach: Sollied.
MILAN (4-3-1-2): Dida – Antonini, Bonera, Favalli, Zambrotta – Gattuso, Emerson, Flamini – Kaká (77’ Jankulovski) – Shevchenko (71’ Pato), F.Inzaghi (71’ Ronaldinho). (bench: Kalac, Maldini, Seedorf, Ambrosini). Coach: Ancelotti.


Udinese vs. Tottenham


(From Uefa.com): Goals from Antonio Di Natale and Simone Pepe condemned ten-man Tottenham to defeat and ensured that the London club’s early-season woes showed no signs of abating. The Premier League team had not lost an away game in the UEFA Cup since last season, when they were forced out in the Round of 16 on penalties. The decisive penalty-saver was goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes (at PSV at that time), however it was Gomes’s error at Stadio Friuli tonight, pulling down Udinese‘s Fabio Quagliarella inside the box, which led to Di Natale tucking away the opening goal from the penalty spot on 24 minutes. Substitute Simone Pepe added a late second four minutes from time.

Second in Serie A, Udinese tested Tottenham’s ability to deal with set-pieces early on but gradually the visitors settled and Darren Bent registered their first effort on goal after 15 minutes. Samir Handanovič then made heavy weather of Aaron Lennon’s cross-shot but no sooner had Spurs gained a foothold in the match, they became the architects of their own downfall when Gomes conceded a spot-kick after inadvertently letting Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s back-pass run loose.

Di Natale‘s successful conversion became the cue for a period of sustained pressure from the Italian side, Marco Motta forcing the Brazilian into a diving save to beat out his drive from distance. Six minutes after the restart, Gomes was called upon again to turn a shot from Italian international Quagliarella around the post.

If Tottenham were already facing an uphill struggle, then their night worsened on 57 minutes when Jamie O’Hara collected his second caution in the space of 52 seconds. Gomes then expertly kept out Di Natale’s deft lob but the real drama came in the final five minutes when Bent’s header from point-blank range was somehow touched over by Handanovič and Udinese went straight up the other end to score a second as Pepe finished off Quagliarella’s lay-off with the aid of a post.


 Udinese Calcio
[Match Highlights]
Tottenham Hotspur F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 23’ Di Natale (U), 86’ Pepe (U).
UDINESE (4-3-3): Handanovic – Motta, Coda, Domizzi, Lukovic (89’ G.Pasquale) – Isla, D’Agostino, Inler – Sanchez (77’ Pepe), Quagliarella (88’ Floro Flores), Di Natale. (bench: Koprivec, Sala, Ferronetti, Obodo). Coach: Marino.
TOTTENHAM (4-1-4-1): Gomes – Assou-Ekotto (46’ Modric), King, Woodgate (64’ Giovani), Bale – Zokora – Hutton, Jenas, O’Hara, Lennon – D.Bent. (bench: Cesar Sanchez, Dawson, Gilberto, Gunter, Campbell). Coach: Juande Ramos.


Partizan vs. Sampdoria


(From Uefa.com): Daniele Dessena‘s second-half strike gave Sampdoria a welcome win after Partizan’s Lamine Diarra had cancelled out Emiliano Bonazzoli‘s opener for the visitors.

Dessena scored what proved to be the winner ten minutes after the interval as Sampdoria put their unhappy record in Serie A behind them for the night. With just four points from their first seven league games, Walter Mazzarri’s side were lifted as Bonazzoli gave them a 20th-minute lead, but Serbian league leaders Partizan were back on terms by the interval.

Sampdoria scored with the first meaningful action of the game, as striker Antonio Cassano surged down the right wing and crossed for Bonazzoli to finish from 10 metres. Partizan were not overly troubled, though, and Veljko Paunović and Juca both missed chances before Diarra’s right-footed shot dipped past Luca Castellazzi in the 34th minute to pull the hosts level.

Both sides had chances to go into half-time leading but Partizan goalkeeper Mladen Božović saved from Gennaro Delvecchio and Castellazzi fielded Ljubomir Fejsa‘s 20-metre shot. Sampdoria duly regained the lead soon after the break with Dessena shooting into the bottom-right corner from right side of penalty area.

Dessena almost grabbed his second of the night but his header from Marius Stankevičius’ cross was saved by Bozović, and the goalkeeper was also called into action to force a Paolo Sammarco effort wide. Castellazzi then earned his team-mates’ gratitude, denying Ivan Obradović‘s strike and proving equal to a stinging long-range shot from Juca.


 FK Partizan
[Match Highlights]
 U.C. Sampdoria
GOALSCORERS: 21′ Bonazzoli (S), 34′ Lam.Diarra (P), 56’ Dessena (S).
PARTIZAN (4-4-2): M.Bozovic – Stevanovic (46’ Milijkovic), S.Knezevic, Jovanovic, Obradovic – Fejsa (64’ Lazic), Juca, Moreira, Tosic – Paunovic (57’ Bogunovic), Lam.Diarra. (bench: D.Bozovic, Petrovic, N’Gambi, Ljajic). Coach: Jokanovic
SAMPDORIA (3-5-2): Castellazzi – Lucchini, Accardi, Bottinelli – Stankevicius, G.Delvecchio (74’ Sammarco), D.Franceschini, Dessena, Ziegler – Cassano (61’ Bellucci), Bonazzoli (86’ Fornaroli). (bench: Mirante, Gastaldello, Ma.Padalino, Pieri). Coach: Mazzarri.


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