Another Nice Day for the Home Sides

April 10, 2009
hamburg

Paolo Guerrero and Hamburg Push City to the Brink

Three of the four UEFA Cup ties in the first leg of the quarterfinal round went to the home sides while the fourth ended in a harmless nil-nil draw.

After Stephen Ireland scored in literally the first minute of action for Manchester City, Hamburg responded with three goals of their own and gave Hamburg a 3-1 home victory at the AOL Arena. Joris Mathijsen answered almost immediately with his 9th minute goal while Piotr Trochowski (penalty) and Jose Paolo Guerrero broke the match open with their mid-late second half goals. The fact that City lost away is not at all surprising as that has been their regular status domestically. Perhaps salvaging an away goal will give them an advantage on the return at Eastlands.

At the RSK Olimpiyskiy, Tomas Hubschman and Rodrigues Jadson straddled half-time with their goals as Shakhtar Donetsk defeated Olympique Marseille 2-0 in Ukraine. Amazingly, at this late stage in a European competition, the biggest rivalry in Ukraine could come to pass in a final in Istanbul (Shakhtar-Dynamo).

Diego continued his fine run of form for Werder Bremen in the UEFA Cup by tallying a brace at the Weserstadion in a 3-1 victory over Udinese. Hugo Almeida gave Bremen a 3-0 lead before Fabio Quagliarella scored a very late goal to at least tack one away goal on the board for Udinese. This match up is a very important one for Italy in general as Udinese are the last Italian club left in Europe. If they cannot earn a spot in the semi-finals or finals, it is possible that Italy would earn only three Champions League positions rather than the four they currently enjoy (I think not until the 2010-11 season though).

Finally, a relatively calm match saw Paris Saint-Germain host a nil-nil draw with Dynamo Kiev. While PSG have to be pleased that their efforts resulted in a clean sheet at home, they’ll need to be more active while in Kiev to advance through to the semi-finals.

The return legs will be played next week.


UEFA Cup Quarterfinals Today

April 9, 2009

uefa cup

Having just passed two interesting days in the Champions League, the UEFA Cup retakes the European stage today. All four quarterfinal first legs will be played today. I won’t break them down as I do Champions League but here are at least the match-ups and where they’ll be played. I’ll have scores and comments this evening.

Olympique Marseille v. Shakhtar Donetsk (RSK Olimpiyskiy)
Manchester City
v. Hamburg (AOL Arena)
Dynamo Kiev
v. Paris Saint-Germain (Parc des Princes)
Udinese
v. Werder Bremen (Weserstadion)


UEFA Cup Quarterfinal Draw

March 20, 2009

uefa cup

Somehow I missed this earlier today. Maybe it was the watching of basketball since noon today. Either way, here is the draw for the quarterfinals of the UEFA Cup:

Manchester City v. Hamburg
Paris Saint-Germain v. Dynamo Kiev
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Olympique Marseille
Werder Bremen v. Udinese

With Shakhtar and Dynamo making the final eight, Ukraine have their first ever quarterfinalists in the UEFA Cup. Interestingly there is just one English side as compared with four in the Champions League. Two German sides (Hamburg and Bremen), one Italian (Udinese) and two French (PSG and Marseille) make up the rest of the final eight. These matches will take place on April 9 for the first leg and April 16 for the second as the clubs vie for a spot in the final in Istanbul. The last major club final in Istanbul produced the famous Liverpool comeback against AC Milan in the Champions League in 2005.


UEFA Cup Quarterfinals Now Set

March 20, 2009

With everything happening with the NCAA tournament over the past few days I’ve neglected my duties to cover the UEFA Cup. Here are recaps of the games from the Round of 16 from Wednesday and Thursday:

Wednesday:

Despite two late goals at Le Geoffroy-Guichard, St. Etienne crashed out of the tournament where they showed so much promise, 3-2 on aggregate to Werder Bremen. Sebastien Prodl and Claudio Pizarro scored in the first half giving Bremen a 2-0 lead, just enough to hold on and advance. Though they’ve had a disastrous domestic season, Bremen are looking good in the UEFA Cup.

A 2-2 draw at the Amsterdam ArenA pushed Olympique Marseille through to the quarterfinals 4-3 on aggregate over Ajax. With Ajax leading 2-1 at full-time, the match went to overtime to determine who advanced on aggregate. Tyrone Mears scored in the 110th minute for Marseille, giving the French power a dramatic and rather unexpected away victory and the means to advance. Adding insult to injury, Ajax received a red card in the 120th minute, completely eliminating whatever chances they might have of a late equalizer.

Thursday:

An own-goal in the 79th minute proved fatal for Metalist Kharkiv as it gave Dynamo Kiev a second away goal. Though Metalist won 3-2 on home soil at the Metalist Stadium, Dynamo’s two-goal advantage on away goals sent them through to the quarterfinals. Without the own-goal, Metalist would have booked their place.

At the Ali Sami Yen Stadium in Turkey, Hamburg scored three goals in the final half-hour to complete a thrilling come-from-behind victory and aggregate win to advance past Galatasaray. Though Harry Kewell and Milan Baros gave the Turks a 2-0 lead, José Paolo Guerrero’s brace and Ivica Olic’s last second goal pushed the German side through, to the shock of the home crowd.

Luis Fernandinho and da Silva Luiz Adriano allowed Shakhtar Donetsk to defend their home stadium in a 2-0 win and 2-1 aggregate victory over CSKA Moscow. It must be a sweet win for the Ukrainian side after so many years of the Russian Army running wild in their country.

Another Russian side were felled yesterday as Zenit St. Petersburg, holders of the UEFA Cup, were dethroned despite a 1-0 victory over Udinese. Anatoliy Tymoschuk’s goal was not enough to overcome Udinese’s two-goal lead on aggregate, so the Italian side advance 2-1. Of course Zenit are without two of last year’s stars, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Andrei Arshavin, now both of North London sides in the Premiership.

In the 81st minute at the Estadio Municipal de Braga, Guillaume Hoarau broke the nil-nil score and aggregate to push Paris Saint-Germain past Braga and into the quarterfinals. PSG have been down for a few years so it’s nice to see them back in the European discussion.

Finally, in Denmark, Luton Shelton’s 85th minute goal and Michael Jakobsen’s 90th minute penalty drew Aalborg even with Manchester City on aggregate at the Aalborg Stadion. After the requisite overtime expired, the two clubs went to penalties to settle the matter. Richard Dunne’s penalty was the fourth for City and proved to be enough as Shelton could not equal his regular-time heroics and missed on his attempt from the spot. As such, City advance to the quarterfinals.


Home Success in the UEFA Cup

March 13, 2009

city

Six of the eight home teams won their matches in the first leg of the UEFA Cup’s Round of 16 yesterday. The other two drew.

Galatasaray probably have the most to be proud of as they survived playing a man down for most of the second half to earn a 1-1 draw against Hamburg at the AOL Arena. Ayhan Akman scored for the Turks in the 32nd minute but was answered by Marcell Jansen just after halftime. With the away goal in hand, Galatasaray will be favored to emerge when they return to Turkey for the second leg.

At the NSK Olimpiyskiy in Kiev, Dynamo‘s Ognjen Vukojevic powered the home side to a 1-0 victory over Metalist with his 54th minute strike.

Manchester City did well in a 2-0 victory over Aalborg at Eastlands. Felipe Caicedo and Shaun Wright-Phillips both tallied goals in the first half-hour to send City to a nice lead against the Danes, down from the Champions League. Without having given up an away goal, City will certainly be the favorite in the return leg. Though they are one of the worst away clubs in England. We’ll see if that translates into Europe as well.

Vagner Love scored yet another goal for CSKA Moscow on a penalty in the 50th minute against Shakhtar Donetsk at the Luzhniki Stadion. It was just enough to see the Muscovites through in a hard-fought 1-0 win.

Braga also gave a good account of themselves in a nil-nil draw at the Parc des Princes in Paris. But PSG, having earned a clean sheet of their own, will be able to advance via away goals if it comes to that in the return leg in Portugal.

Naldo scored in the 20th minute to keep Werder Bremen‘s European momentum after their amazing upset of AC Milan in the last round. 1-0 was enough to fend off St. Etienne at the Weserstadion and give the Germans a nice advantage going to France for the second leg.

A scoreless game through 85 minutes ended with Udinese a surprise winner over holders Zenit, 2-0. Fabio Quagliarella and Antonio Di Natale (on penalty) each scored in the final five minutes of play to give the Italian side an important victory at the Friuli in Udine. Zenit will have a lot to overcome when they return to St. Petersburg.

Finally, Olympique Marseille did enough to earn a 2-1 victory at the Stade Velodrome against ten-man Ajax. Benoit Cheyrou and Mamadou Niang scored early for the home side before Suarez pulled one back on penalty for the Dutch giants. But Gregory Van der Wiel’s second yellow card in four minutes reduced the Joden to ten men for the remainder of the match. The away goal will be helpful upon returning to Amsterdam though.


UEFA Cup Round of 16

March 12, 2009

A day after an exciting end to the Champions League’s Round of 16 comes the UEFA Cup’s first leg of its own edition. Here are the match ups:

Galatasaray @ Hamburger
Металлист Харьков @ Динамо Київ (aka Metalist Kharkiv @ Dynamo Kiev)
Aalborg @ Manchester City
Шахтар Донецьк @ ЦСКА Москва (aka Shakhtar Donetsk @ CSKA Moscow)
Braga @ Paris Saint-Germain
St. Etienne @ Werder Bremen
Зeнит Санкт-Петербург @ Udinese (aka Zenit @ Udinese)
Ajax @ Olympique de Marseille

Ok, so now that you know how to spell these clubs in their native tongues, you can look forward to a full report on the results of today’s matches.


AC Milan Out in the UEFA Cup

February 26, 2009

pizzaro

After Andrea Pirlo and Pato scored in the first half for Milan, Claudio Pizarro scored twice in ten minutes in the second half to earn a draw for Werder Bremen 2-2 at the San Siro. The two away goals send German club through to the round of sixteen on a 3-3 aggregate. Milan, who looked poised to move on convincingly after their first three halves, have to be stunned to be out of Europe before March. Bremen meanwhile have had quite a rough go of it in Germany so this victory should be seen as quite a lift.

A Craig Bellamy brace sends Manchester City through to the next round on a 2-1 home victory over København and a 4-3 aggregate. Martin Vingaard Hansen scored in the 90th minute for the Danes but it was not enough to equal Bellamy’s superb late efforts.

In Spain, Artem Kravets scored twice for Dynamo Kiev to earn a 2-2 draw with Valencia. As in the Milan-Bremen situation, the Ukrainian side’s two away goals gave Dynamo the victory despite the 3-3 aggregate score.

Hatem Ben Arfa’s 24th minute goal gave Olympique Marseille a 1-0 lead over FC Twente, pushing the aggregate to 1-1 and eventually forced a penalty shootout. The French port city’s 7-6 advantage in penalties sends them through to the round of sixteen, crushing the hopes of Dutch leaders Twente.

At the Luzhniki Stadion in Moscow, Yuri Zhirkov’s 61st minute goal pushed CSKA Moscow past Aston Villa on aggregate. Vagner Love tallied yet another goal for the Russian side, adding insult to Villa’s injury and sending the Birmingham club home on a 3-1 aggregate.

Finally, at White Hart Lane Giovani dos Santos gave Tottenham brief hope of a comeback against Shaktar Donetsk but Fernandinho’s 86th minute goal pushed the aggregate score to 3-1 in favor of the Ukrainians and left Spurs with just Sunday’s Carling Cup final as a chance to remain in Europe next year.

Here are the rest of the scores:

Zenit St. Petersburg 2 – Stuttgart 1 (Zenit 4-2 ag)
St. Etienne 2 – Olympiacos 1 (St. Etienne 5-2 ag)
Metalist Kharkiv 2 – Sampdoria 0 (Metalist 3-0 ag)
Hamburg 1 – NEC Nijmegen 0 (Hamburg 4-0 ag)
Paris Saint-Germain 3 – Wolfsburg 1 (PSG 5-1 ag)
Galatasaray 4 – Bordeaux 3 (Galatasaray 4-3 ag)
AaB Aalborg 3 – Deportivo La Coruña 1 (Aalborg 6-1 ag)
Braga 1 – Standard Liège 1 (Braga 4-1 ag)
Udinese 2 – Lech Poznań 1 (Udinese 4-3 ag)
Fiorentina 1 – Ajax 1 (Ajax 2-1 ag)

So, here are the Round of 16 matchups:

Werder Bremen v. St. Etienne
CSKA Moscow v. Shakhtar Donetsk
Udinese v. Zenit
PSG v. Braga
Dynamo Kiev v. Metalist Kharkiv
Man City v. Aalborg
Marseille v. Ajax
Hamburg v. Galatasaray


The Rest of the Round of 32

February 19, 2009
gomes

This is Getting to be a Familiar Sight

English clubs fell on their faces today in the second day of the Round of 32 in the UEFA Cup. Both Tottenham and Manchester City blew chances at fine results with last-minute choking. Here are the results:

Yevhen Seleznyov and Rodrigues Jadson scored in the final twelve minutes of play to give Shakhtar Donetsk, freshly down from the Champions League, a 2-0 victory over Tottenham at the RSK Olimpiyskiy. Spurs, who could’ve earned a valuable away draw, did not even challenge the Hirnyky (or Miners) and now face a terrible uphill battle to advance to the Round of 16. By not playing most of the regular starters due to fatigue concerns, Harry Redknapp appears to have wasted the trip to Ukraine and all but given away Tottenham’s chances at staying alive in Europe.

Similarly, Man City allowed a 90th minute strike from Martin Vingaard Hansen to give FC København a 2-2 draw at the Parken Stadion in Copenhagen. Nedum Onuoha and Stephen Ireland had given City a 2-1 cushion with Ireland’s 61st minute goal but were unable to keep Hansen out of the net in the end. City do take two away goals back home to Manchester for the return match and have a much better chance than Tottenham to advance.

In Poland, Lech Poznań stunned Udinese when Hernan Rengifo and Manuel Arboleda scored in the 81st and 84th minutes to draw even with the Italian club at the Stadion Mijeski. Udinese are in the same boat as Man City with two away goals in their favor when they return to Udine.

Another upset occurred, this time in Marseille as Olympique were defeated 1-0 by Marko Arnautovic and FC Twente. Arnautovic’s 22nd minute strike gave the Dutch visitors an early lead at the Stade Velodrome that stood through the rest of the match. Twente will return to Enschede with an away goal in hand and a one-goal lead.

Finally, Ajax pulled off a nice away win on the strength of Kennedy’s 60th minute goal for the visiting Dutch at the Artemio Franchi in Florence against Fiorentina.


UEFA Cup Results

February 18, 2009
diego

Diego Saves the Day in Bremen

Home sides fared reasonably well in today’s return of UEFA Cup matches across the Continent. Below are the scores followed by details about several matches of note:

Zenit 2 – Stuttgart 1
Aston Villa 1 – CSKA Moscow 1
Dynamo Kiev 1 – Valencia 1
Olympiakos 1 – St. Etienne 3
Werder Bremen 1 – AC Milan 1
NEC Nijmegen 0 – Hamburg 3
Sampdoria 0 – Metalist Kharkiv 1
PSG 2 – Wolfsburg 0
Braga 3 – Standard Liege 0
Bordeaux 0 – Galatasaray 0
Aalborg 3 – Deportivo La Coruña 0

Holders Zenit began their defense with a nice 2-1 victory over VfB Stuttgart at the Petrovsky. This was the first European match without the services of last year’s hero and current Arsenal man Andrei Arshavin. In his stead, Szabolcs Huszti and Anatoliy Tymoschuk doubled Mario Gomez’s efforts for the Germans, giving Zenit a good start in the Round of 32.

John Alieu Carew saved Aston Villa at Villa Park with his 69th minute goal for a 1-1 draw with CSKA Moscow. UEFA Cup’s leading scorer Vagner Love opened the scoring for CSKA but it was not enough for a major win on English soil.

Diego countered Filippo Inzaghi at the Weserstadion giving Werder Bremen a strong home draw with AC Milan, 1-1. Diego’s late goal saved the shared points for the German side in a result that must be very pleasing in Bremen.

Meanwhile, Paris St.-Germain, Braga and Aalborg all but guaranteed their positions in the Round of 16 with 2- or 3-0 thrashings on their home turf. Not allowing any away goals and taking such sizable differential advantages should do the trick, especially considering their opponents are Wolfsburg, Standard Liege and Deportivo La Coruña, respectively.

Tomorrow Man City, Ajax, Marseille and Tottenham all take the pitch as well as one other match in the Round of 32.


The Return of UEFA Cup

February 18, 2009

uefa

The UEFA Cup makes its return a week before the Champions League. So this week we get a full slate of games today and a handful more tomorrow. I’ve decided it’s just too hectic to make predictions on all these matches, especially because I just don’t know everything about how teams fared in the transfer markets, what players are injured, etc. But I can say that this is the first set of games where the third place finishers from the Champions League have dropped down into the UEFA Cup. So you’ll see some new clubs in the mix like Zenit and Aalborg. So here’s the rundown of today’s games. I’ll give a recap this evening:

Wednesday:
VfB Stuttgart @ Zenit St. Petersburg
CSKA Moscow @ Aston Villa
Valencia @ Dynamo Kiev
St. Etienne @ Olympiakos
AC Milan @ Werder Bremen
Hamburger SV @ NEC Nijmegen
FC Metalist Kharkiv @ Sampdoria
VfL Wolfsburg @ Paris Saint-Germain
Standard Liege @ Braga
Galatasaray @ Bordeaux
Deportivo La Coruña @ AaB Aalborg

Thursday:
Udinese @ Lech Poznan
Manchester City @ FC Copenhagen
Ajax @ Fiorentina
FC Twente @ Marseille
Tottenham @ Shaktar Donetsk


Tottenham Miss Top Spot But Do Advance

December 19, 2008

tom

Spurs could not have known that if they only won their match they would have finished the UEFA Cup group stage with top billing in Group D. But that’s how it turned out as Udinese lost to NEC Nijmegen. Instead, Spurs needed two dramatic second half goals from Luka Modric and Tom Huddlestone just to draw 2-2 with Spartak Moscow. The shared points were enough to push Spartak below Nijmegen and keep Tottenham in the second position.

Here are the rest of the advancing clubs:

Group A: Man City, FC Twente, Paris Saint-Germain
Group B: FC Metalist Kharkiv, Galatasaray, Olympiakos
Group C: Standard Liege, VfB Stuttgart, Sampdoria
Group D: Udinese, Tottenham, NEC Nijmegen

So, including clubs dropping down from the Champions League, here are the match-ups for the first knock out round in February (with first home teams listed first). I’ve put interesting match-ups in bold:

Aston Villa v. CKSA Moscow
Zenit St. Petersburg v. VfB Stuttgart
Braga v. Standard Liege
Fiorentina v. Ajax
Marseille v. FC Twente
NEC Nijmegen v. Hamburger SV
FC Copenhagen v. Man City
Sampdoria v. FC Metalist Kharkiv
AaB Aalborg v. Deportivo La Coruña
Paris Saint-Germain v. VfL Wolfsburg
Werder Bremen v. AC Milan
Bordeaux v. Galatasaray
Lech Poznan v. Udinese
Olympiakos v. St. Etienne
Dynamo Kiev v. Valencia
Shaktar Donetsk v. Tottenham


First Half UEFA Cup Update

December 18, 2008

deportivo

Not too much movement yesterday as the majority of spots were already filled for advancement in the UEFA Cup. However, Deportivo La Coruña‘s 1-0 home victory over Nancy propelled them into the next round in Group H after Lech Poznan won 1-0 away at Feyenoord. Feyenoord was one of only three clubs to not earn a single point. Also, Copenhagen jumped Club Brugge with a 1-0 win over the Belgian side for the final spot in Group G. Here are the bottom four groups and their entrants in the next round. Group’s A-D play today to round it out.

Group E – VfL Wolfsburg, AC Milan, Braga
Group F – Hamburger SV, Ajax, Aston Villa
Group G – St. Etienne, Valencia, FC Copenhagen
Group H – CSKA Moscow, Deportivo La Coruña, Lech Poznan


Spurs Face Important Test v. Spartak

December 17, 2008

Tottenham can advance through the group stage of the UEFA Cup if they can earn a win or a draw against visiting Spartak Moscow tomorrow at White Hart Lane. A win pushes Spurs through in second place most likely, assuming Udinese wins or draws at the top. A loss however puts Tottenham in peril of missing the cut as either Spartak, if they win by three goals, or NEC Nijmegen (same differential issues) could slip past.

So, Spurs simply need to take care of business at home as they’ve done very well so far this year in non-domestic league play. Between UEFA Cup and the Carling Cup, Spurs have managed to survive further than many expected, especially considering how terribly the start to the Premier League season was.

Other clubs who have clinched are will clinch, in all likelihood (in other words, the goal differentials are so different, even if they don’t win their last match, will advance anyway) will move on are:

Group A – Manchester City, FC Twente
Group B – Galatasaray, FC Metalist Kharkiv
Group C – Standard Liege
Group D – Udinese
Group E – VfL Wolfsburg, AC Milan, Braga
Group F – Hamburger SV, Aston Villa, Ajax
Group G – St. Etienne, Valencia
Group H – CSKA Moscow

A final post for the group play will come tomorrow showing those moving on and those dropping down from the Champions League.


The Forgotten Match

December 1, 2008

oharaWith Thursday being Thanksgiving here in the States (and with me on the golf course for over eight hours between Thursday and Friday) I completely missed covering Spurs’ UEFA Cup tie with NEC Nijmegen in Holland. Behind Jamie O’Hara’s 14th minute header was enough to push Tottenham to six points in Group D and inch them ever closer to advancing from the group stage. With Udinese and Spartak Moscow having still played only two matches, Spurs’ second position cannot be guaranteed going forward, but earning three away points put Tottenham in a nice position.

Spurs will host Spartak on December 18 at White Hart Lane in their last UEFA Cup group match.


Spurs Destroy Dinamo

November 6, 2008

bentSpurs are taking part in one hell of an about face with today’s UEFA Cup match with Dinamo Zagreb further showing the change in direction at White Hart Lane. Behind a Darren Bent hat trick and Tom Huddlestone’s second half goal, Tottenham whipped Dinamo Zaberb 4-0 at the Lane. Having fallen in a sorry way to Udinese just a fortnight ago, Spurs have reversed their fortunes in the UEFA Cup and now sit comfortably in second position behind the Italian club (who today beat Spartak Moscow, 2-1).

Other English clubs were also successful in their second UEFA Cup matches as Aston Villa defeated Slavia Prague 1-0 and Manchester City held of FC Twente 3-2. Other big clubs playing today included AC Milan defeating Braga 1-0 on Ronaldinho’s 90th minute winner and Ajax winning at home against MSK Zilina, 1-0.