Monday, December 19, 2005 

Werder Bremen 1 - 1 Hamburg SV

HSV remains the only unbeaten side away from home in the Bundesliga, following their creditable 1-1 draw away to Werder Bremen on Sunday evening (18.12.05). It was a game of two halves, with the home side totally dominant during the first 45 minutes and HSV on top for the rest of the match. Frenchman Joe Micoud put the home ´side ahead during injury time in the first half, before second half substitute Mustafa Kucukovic equalised for the visitors on 67 minutes, it was his first goal for the HSV first team.

Key players missing
HSV coach Thomas Doll was without the long term injured Bastian Reinhardt and Collin Benjamin, as well as Rafael van der Vaart, Khalid Boulahrouz and Emile Mpenza. Despite those key omissions, HSV’s game plan was clear: To maintain their unbeaten run away from home in the Bundesliga. Bremen also had set their sights high; after all, they were unbeaten at home before HSV came to town. Influential midfielder Tim Borowski was missing from coach Thomas Schaaf’s side after undergoing recent surgery on a groin problem.

Werder dominate HSV
The best strike force against the best defence in the Bundesliga, was the name of the game in front of a sell out crowd in the Weserstadion ahead of the 83rd meeting between the two sides. Werder turned on the style during the first half making HSV look second class for long periods. The visitors hardly had a chance to play in the Bremen half; such was the early pressure from the home side. Breman created chance on chance and the HSV keeper Kirschstein made a couple of fine saves to deny the home side what would have been a deserved lead.

HSV under the cosh
On 25 minutes, Frings curled in a free kick from the right hand touchline, and the HSV keeper looked out of sorts as the ball came back off his right hand post, onto his head and away from the danger zone. On 39 minutes the referee gave a penalty after Kirschstein messed up what looked to be an easy back pass. The HSV keeper gently touched the Polish-born German international striker as he went for the ball near the goal line. The resulting spot kick was well saved by Kirschstein, although it must be said that he moved off his line too early and couldn’t have complained had the referee ordered the kick to be taken again.

Werder takes the lead
It wasn’t as if HSV didn’t threaten at all during the first half. Indeed, the home keeper Reinke had to be on his guard as Piotr Trochowski tried two long distance efforts (22., 23.). In injury time of the first half, Micoud went one better as he fired the home side into the lead. The frenchman fired in a free kick into the HSV area and although the shot looked as if it could have been saved, Werder took a deserved lead seconds before the referee blew for half time.

HSV on top
The second half saw the visitors get a grip on the game from the off. Benny Lauth missed a half chance two minutes after the re-start, and 4 minutes later Mahdavikia tried a cross cum shot which went wide of the mark. On 55 minutes, Jarolim lost the ball in midfielder and Frings found himself one on one with Kirschstein. The HSV keeper stood his ground and denied the former Bayern midfielder. Kirschstein was also at hand to deny a fierce shot fired in by Valdez on 61 minutes. On the other hand, Sergej Barbarez should have equalised as he met a pinpoint cross by Mahdavikia. The Bosnian striker could only head straight at Werder keeper Reinke while unmarked (63.).

Dolly throws caution to the wind
On 65 minutes the HSV coach Thomas Doll brought on Takahara and Kucukovic in the hope of forcing a win in the Weserstadoin. It was to be a move which would soon bear fruits. On 67 minutes, HSV was level after Takahara fed Kucukovic in the Werder area, from where he turned well and thanks to a deflection by a Werder defender, equalised for HSV from 8 metres out. The visitors could have snatches all three points at the death as Wicky (against his former club) raced forward to the Bremen area from where he was foiled by Reinke. It was to be the last chance of what turned out to be a pulsating game, especially in the second half. HSV remains in second place in the Bundesliga table, some 6 points behind Bayern and 2 points ahead of Werder Bremen.

Werder Bremen: Reinke - Owomoyela, Naldo, Pasanen, Andreasen - Baumann, Vranjes (80.Jensen), Frings, Micoud - Valdez (70.Klasnic), Klose

HSV: Kirschstein - Mahdavikia, Demel, van Buyten, Atouba - Wicky, Jarolim (87.Klingbeil), Beinlich, Trochowski (65.Kucukovic) - Barbarez, Lauth (65.Takahara)

Goals: 1:0 Micoud (45+1.), 1:1 Kucukovic (67.)



Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Bayern Munchen 17 44
2. Hamburg 17 38
3. Bremen 17 36
4. Schalke 17 31
5. Hertha 17 26


Empoli 1-1 Fiorentina

Exciting draw at the Castellani between Empoli and Fiorentina. The Viola controlled the match and were unlucky in front of goal until the 70th minute when Pazzini opened the score following a shot by Toni which hit the bar. Two minutes later Empoli drew level with Vannucchi who took advantage of a rebound by the defence from an Almiron shot. Towards the end, big chance for Fiore, while Empoli hit the crossbar with Tavano.

Goals: 25’sh Pazzini, 27’sh Vannucchi

Empoli: Berti, Lucchini, Coda, Pratali (7’sh Vannucchi), Bonetto, Almiron, Buscè, Moro, Zanetti (40’sh Vanigli), Riganò, Tavano. Coach Somma (Balli, Pozzi, Gasparetto, Vanigli, Serafini, Lodi, Vannucchi).

Fiorentina: Frey, Ujfalusi, Gamberini, Dainelli, Pasqual, Donadel, Brocchi, Fiore, Jogensen, Pazzini (35’sh Bojinov), Toni. Coach Prandelli (Cejas, Bojinov, Maggio, Pazienza, Montolivo, Pancaro, Di Loreto)


Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Juventus 16 43
2. Inter 16 35
3. Milan 16 34
4. Fiorentina 16 33
5. Livorno 16 31



PSV 4 - 1 Willem II

For the first time this season PSV conceded a goal in the Eindhoven Philips Stadium, but when they had come from 0-1 down, they coasted to a comfortable 4-1 win over Willem II.

Mika Väyrynen
It was not an equally balanced game at all, although Willem II took an early lead from a counter attack. PSV soon put things straight, netted four goals and noticed that the Tilburg outfit never threatened. Several PSV players, who had returned from injury, were brought on and Mika Väyrynen even scored a goal on his home debut. The Fin tapped home the fourth goal of the night in injury time.

Vennegoor of Hesselink
PSV earned some chances in the initial stages and Vennegoor of Hesselink rattled the bar with a glancing header. But ten seconds later the visitors had broken the deadlock at the other end. Willem II started a counter attack and Jatto Ceesay was on the right place to finish; 0-1. It was the very first goal PSV conceded in their own stadium this season, both in the domestic league and in the Champions League tournament. Alex scored an own goal in the opening match of the season against Vitesse, though. It did not take long before PSV had cancelled out the deficit. Jason Culina took a trademark free kick and Vennegoor of Hesselink rose high to head home; 1-1. On the stroke of half time Vennegoor of Hesselink doubled the advantage when he superbly controlled a Farfán cross with his chest, before blasting home at the far post; 2-1.

Red card
Willem II did not take any initiatives to change the score. The game was virtually wrapped up on 63 minutes, when Cocu’s perfect cross found Farfán and the Peruvian unleashed a left footed shot that beat keeper Zois; 3-1. PSV head coach Guus Hiddink then thought it was time to give three players an opportunity to gain some match rhythm. Beasley came on for Addo, Väyrynen left the bench to replace Aissati and Michael Ball filled in for Lamey. All three of them made a comeback on the pitch. Väyrynen was handed his debut in Eindhoven in an official game. He scored his first goal for his new club in injury time. Willem II were down to ten men the final fifteen minutes, after Wau had been dismissed for a late tackle on Beasley, who was put clear.

Goals: 15´ Ceesay (0-1); 19´ Vennegoor of Hesselink (1-1); 42´ Vennegoor of Hesselink (2-1); 63´ Farfán (3-1), 90´ Väyrynen (4-1)


Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. PSV 16 38
2. AZ 16 38
3. Feyenoord 16 35
4. Ajax 16 27
5. NEC 16 27


Friday, December 16, 2005 

Hamburg 2 - 0 Slavia Prague (Uefa Cup)

HSV coach Thomas Doll was without his classy Dutch international defefender Khalid Boulahrouz through suspension, he was also without the services of the long term injured duo of Bastian Reinhardt and Collin Benjamin, both of whom are back in training. Dutch master Rafael van der Vaart was also missing, after undergoing recent surgery. On the good news side, the slightly injured Guy Demel and Thimothee Atouba were fit in time to face Slavia Prague. For HSV’s Czech-born midfielder David Jarolim, the clash on Thursday evening was anything but just another game. Slavia is coached by his father Karel and his brother Lukas plays for them too.

Early breakthough
The home side took the game by the scruff of the neck from the off. Their early dominance was soon to be turned into goals, even though Sergej Barbarez missed the first chance of the match on 7 minutes. Two minutes later though, the Bosnian went one better as he gave HSV a deserved lead as he powered in a bullet-like header following a superbly accurate cross from the right by Stefan Beinlich. Mpenza could have doubled the home side’s lead moments later, but the Belgian striker pushed the ball wide after finding himself one on one with the Slavia keeper Kozacik. The Czech side found their way into the game after the early setback and Suchy missed their first chance on 17 minutes.

On 27 minutes HSV should have gone further ahead, as Mpenza was brought down in the Prague area by keeper Kozacik who was promptly sent off. The Belgian took the penalty himself but was denied by the newly brought on keeper Seliga, who guessed the right corner and superbly pushed the ball around his post. HSV took a one goal lead with them into the half time break.

Mpenza at last
Mpenza,down on his luck during the first half, saw his fortunes change on 57 minutes, as a wonderful through ball by Barbarez allowed the Belgian striker to lob the out-rushing keeper Seliga for a superb and well deserved goal. Five minutes later, Mpenza was forced to go off after tearing a muscle. He was replaced by Benny Lauth, who almost scored with a header moments after coming on, his well timed effort on 66 minutes went agonisingly wide.

Cruise control
Ten-man Prague tried hard but was unable to break down the well organised home defence. Two minutes from time, skipper Daniel van Buyten surged forward only to put his shot wide of the mark. HSV easily played out time, and deserved their convincing win which sends them through to the knock out stages of the UEFA Cup. The draw fort he next stage will take place on Friday.

HSV: Kirschstein - Mahdavikia, Demel, van Buyten, Atouba - Wicky (61.Laas), Beinlich, Jarolim, Trochowski - Barbarez (70.Takahara), Mpenza (64.Lauth)

Slavia Prague: Kozacik - Krajcik, Latka, Suchy, Holenak - Vlcek (80.Pesir), Gedeon, L. Jarolim, Hrdlicka (86.Svec), Svento - Fort (29.Seliga)

Goals: 1:0 Barbarez (09.), 2:0 Mpenza (57.)


Monday, December 12, 2005 

Hamburg 2 - 1 Hertha

HSV’s superb run of form continued on Saturday afternoon, as coach Thomas Doll’s side beat fifth placed Hertha in front of 54,129 inside the AOL Arena. The home side goals came by way of an own goal by the Hertha defender van Burik, and a penalty by Mehdi Mahdavikia six minutes later. Bastürk replied for the visitors on 76 minutes but by that time it was simply too little too late.

Dream start for HSV!
Hertha, without Joe Simunic (toe injury) and Malik Fathi (foot problem), had big plans for their top five visit to the AOL Arena in round 16 of the Bundesliga. Those plans were dealt a bitter blow after only two minutes, as a corner taken on the right by the former Hertha midfielder Stefan Beinlich was back headed by Marko Pantelic onto the body of Dick van Burik, who could not prevent the ball going into his own net.

Van Burik concedes penalty
It was a cruel blow for the capital city club, but things got worse only four minutes later, and van Burik was involved again. The veteran Dutch defender fouled Emile Mpenza inside the area, and the match referee Dr. Markus Merk pointed straight to the spot. As if that wasn’t bad enough for Hertha, van Burik tore a muscle as he fouled the Belgian striker and was replaced by Sofian Chahed in defence. Up stepped HSV’s Iranian international Mehdi Mahdavikia to slot the ball past Christian Fiedler flach into the bottom left hand corner, 2-0 to HSV!

Double chance for Mpenza
With an early two goal advantage in their favour, second placed HSV began to dominate the match. On 16 minutes, the home side (without Rafael van der Vaart and David Jarolim) should have gone further ahead as Beinlich struck the inside of Fiedler’s left hand post with a curling free kick. The rebound was taken on the volley by Mpenza, who could only fire the ball at the Hertha keeper who punched the ball, of his line and back to Mpenza, who blasted his second chance wide. Hertha tried to grab a goal back, but met their match in the superb home defence which has only conceded a miserly 8 goals in 16 Bundesliga matches so far this season.

Pantelic can't score away
Typical for Hertha’s performance in Hamburg were the chances missed by their Serbian striker Marko Pantelic. On 32 minutes, Berlin created their first chance of the match as Pantelic could only fire a free kick into the wall. Pantelic had a much better opportunity just before the break. This time, Pantelic headed over an Arne Friedrich cross from 5 metres out. What a chance! HSV went into the break two goals ahead.

Marcelinho off !
HSV began the second half in patient mood, allowing Hertha to take the initiative. Although they had more possession, the capital city side was harmless in front of goal. On 51 minutes, disaster struck again for the Hertha coach Falko Götz, who could only watch as his star midfielder Marcelinho was sent off for over reacting to a challenge by HSV’s striker Benny Lauth. Strangely, Hertha appeared to improve after going a man down.

Kirschstein gives away a goal
A mistake by the HSV stand in keeper Sascha Kirschstein gave Hertha a goal, as the keeper allowed a weak shot by Bastürk to squirm under his body on 76 minutes. From then on it was all Hertha, as HSV struggled to loosen the grip that the capital city side had on them at that point in time. HSV however, managed to hold on to their lead until the end and on the balance of play deserved their victory which has brought them to within one point of Bayern Munich at the top of the table. The Munich side play bottom placed Kaiserslautern on Sunday.

HSV: Kirschstein - Demel (72. Takyi), Boulahrouz, van Buyten, Atouba - Mahdavikia, Trochowski, Beinlich - Barbarez - Lauth (59. Ziegler), Mpenza (90. Takahara)

Hertha: Fiedler - Friedrich, van Burik (9. Chahed), Madlung, Marx (57. Zecke) - Kovac - Boateng (88. Samba), Bastürk, Gilberto - Marcelinho - Pantelic

Goals: 1:0 van Burik (2., o.g), 2:0 Mahdavikia (8., pen.), 2:1 Bastürk (76.)



Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Bayern Munchen 16 41
2. Hamburg 16 37
3. Bremen 16 35
4. Schalke 16 31
5. Hertha 16 25

Friday, December 09, 2005 

SL Benfica 2 - 1 Manchester United (CL)

Goals from Geovanni and Beto stunned Manchester United FC and enabled SL Benfica to reach the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds for the first time since 1994/95.

No consolation
It meant United, who threw away an early lead achieved through Paul Scholes, failed to advance from the group stage for the first time in ten years, and by finishing bottom of Group D have not even a UEFA Cup place for consolation.

Neville role
In Simão's continued absence, one of a number of Benfica injuries, Ronald Koeman deployed Geovanni in the left-sided attacking role. In direct opposition was the man appointed United captain in Roy Keane's stead, Gary Neville. Keane's departure has also led Sir Alex Ferguson to give the 4-4-2 formation primacy, though from the start it was clear that local prodigy, and target for the Benfica fans' ire, Cristiano Ronaldo, had freedom to roam.

Scholes scores
Barely six minutes had elapsed when Neville performed wing duties to perfection. He darted free on the right following a clever Ryan Giggs ball and the skipper's cross was forced in by Scholes virtually on the line. It was a blow that stunned the home supporters, who had been in lusty voice long before kick-off, though Beto did immediately force Edwin van der Sar to save.

All square
Attack remained the watchword for both teams, and soon it was Benfica's turn to celebrate. Nélson swung in a centre from the right and, spotting a gap, Geovanni produced a far-post diving header of geometric precision. Even these sides could not keep up the pace of that breathless start, and it was some 13 minutes before the next real opportunity, a looping Scholes effort tipped over by Quim. The resulting Giggs corner also caused Benfica momentary concern, but the overriding emotion was joy not long after.

Benfica ahead
A home attack was looking tentative when Beto opted to let fly from outside the area. The deflection off Scholes meant Van der Sar did not stand a chance, and the Luz stands shook with delight. Bottom of the provisional standings, United now required another goal, but it was Benfica who dominated until the break, revelling in their swift turnaround and counterattacking at speed.

Historic resonance
Half-time brought a presentation reuniting the stars of these clubs' famous 1960s meetings, including Eusébio and Sir Bobby Charlton, and the event was given poignancy by George Best's recent death. The 5-1 United victory on their visit here in that era may have been on Benfica's minds when they emerged from the break; they began the second period determined not to allow their visitors to make the Luz their own again.

Ronaldo miss
Luisão in particular was a rock in defence, making a crucial saving tackle on Wayne Rooney and looking commanding in the air. Even when United did find an opening just before the hour thanks to a four-man passing move, Ronaldo slid the ball just past the far post. The introduction of Louis Saha and then Ji-Sung Park showed United's need to find new sources of attack, though a Rooney free-kick went close.

Swift counter
A crossed Rooney set-piece then troubled Benfica, before Koeman introduced João Pereira, whose first act was to turn a Nuno Gomes pass wide. Geovanni then made Van der Sar save in another swift counter, but of more importance was that Benfica repelled all a frustrated United had to offer and made it through on a night which started so unpromisingly for them.

Goals: 6´ Scholes (0-1); 16´ Geovanni (1-1); 34´ Beto (2-1)



PSV 2 - 0 Fenerbahçe (CL)

PSV progress to the Champions League knockout stages for the second year in succession. PSV head coach Guus Hiddink guided his team to a 2-0 win over Fenerbahçe SK, thanks to goals scored by Phillip Cocu and Jefferson Farfán on either side of the break.

Not dependent
One day after the death of Frits Philips, a capacity crowd in the Eindhoven Philips Stadium respectfully observed a minute’s silence to this devoted PSV fan. But then the players were made to work hard for the full 90 minutes and when the final whistle went, the celebrations were started. PSV did what they had to do on matchday six. They recorded their third group stage home won and were therefore not dependent on the result of the other group tie (AC Milan-Schalke). PSV have now booked a place in the last sixteen of the most prestigious tournament in Europe. The Italians claimed a 3-2 win over Schalke, which means that AC Milan as well as PSV are through to the next round. This is a fantastic achievement, the more so as the group E rivals were all formidable opponents and as PSV had to field quite a few new players, following the summer’s exodus of some regulars.

Cocu opener
It was an equally contested game during the first fifteen minutes. PSV had a good organization as their first priority and did not start too many moves. Fenerbahçe had most possession, but PSV did not take any risks and kept battling. PSV created the first danger on thirteen minutes from a set piece and were immediately rewarded. Jefferson Farfán struck a free kick and captain Phillip Cocu cleverly headed the ball home; 1-0.

Ismail Aissati
Ibrahim Afellay, who seemed to have made a timely recovery from his groin injury for this crucial game, had to be taken off after all and was replaced by Ismail Aissati. PSV created their second chance of the night on the half hour mark, when Farfán’s effort took a nasty bounce and Fenerbahçe keeper Volkan did well to push it away for a corner at the near post. PSV were shown one yellow card during the first period: Robert was cautioned when Fenerbahçe player Alex had gone down readily. The Brazilian played on the left flank, where he performed both his offensive and defensive duties convincingly. He threatened soon after the restart, but his cross went just over the bar.

Farfán goal
PSV did not get any clear-cut chances after the restart. Farfán and Simons rifled shots that lacked strength and precision. PSV refused to take any risks: Robert was taken off and defender Michael Reiziger came on to strengthen the defensive options. Fenerbahçe kept up the pressure, but they were not able to produce any really dangerous moments. PSV continued to watch for an opportunity to start a lethal counter attack and their patience was rewarded five minutes from final time. Vennegoor of Hesselink superbly headed on a long ball from Cocu. Farfán coolly turned the ball in over Volkan: 2-0. Game, set and match and time for great celebrations in Eindhoven.

Impressive homage
The evening had an impressive start when the crowd paid an impressive homage to Frits Philips, who had died at the age of 100. As a Philips top manager, as a lifelong devoted PSV fan and as an exemplary citizen of Eindhoven, he had been a club hero and a town icon. A sell out crowd, there were 35, 000 spectators, raised their white and red match programmes, when Guus Meeuwis performed a modest and subdued song as well as when a minute’s silence was observed. Guus Meeuwis put an end to the party for all the fans in the way ‘Mister Frits’ would have liked.

Goals: 14 Cocu, 85 Farfán


Thursday, December 08, 2005 

Liverpool draw to finish top (Chelsea 0 - Liverpool 0)

Liverpool finished top of Champions League Group G on Tuesday after a tough 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Despite dominating the second-half, Chelsea could not find a way past Sami Hyypia and his Liverpool cohorts as the defending champions denied the Blues in a hotly contested affair.

Even though both teams were already through to the next round, both managers named virtually full strength teams for this game, as they looked to win the group and stay away from some of this season's form teams.

In a game notable for its full-blooded nature, there were a number of robust challenges with William Gallas and Momo Sissoko in particular leaving their mark on their opposite numbers. However, the moment that perhaps this game will be best remembered for involved a Mickael Essien challenge in the 22nd minute.

With the referee distracted by a foul on Damien Duff on the left touchline, the ball ran loose and Essien and Dietmar Hamann rightly attempted to win the ball while the crowd waited for the whistle. While Hamann slid in for the ball, the Ghanaian stepped over the ball and appeared to stamp on the German's knee, leaving the door open for UEFA's disciplinary panel to get involved.

The German midfielder refused to critisize the referee after the match, but certainly knew he had received a heavy knock: "It was the worst tackle I have ever received. I thought my leg was broken."

With the game being played in such a hi-octane atmosphere it was predictable that there would be few clear-cut chances. Something made all the more likely given the aggregate of just one goal in the last three European matches between these teams.

In a first-half that was edged by Liverpool in terms of quality of possession there was just a single decent chance for both teams.

Frank Lampard seized on a casual Jose Reina clearance to hit a powerful shot on goal in the opening minutes that the Liverpool stopper did well to parry after regaining his ground.

At the other end, John Arne Riise had the best chance on the half hour when he was released on the left by Steven Gerrard after one of his trademark driving runs. The Norwegian midfielder seemed in a great position to score from the left-hand edge of the box, but his low shot was too close to the imperious Petr Cech who did well to turn the ball away.

After a stern team-talk, Chelsea emerged after the break with greater purpose about their play and went on to dominate the second-half while never really testing Reina in the Liverpool goal.

Frank Lampard, runner-up in the recent Ballon d'Or awards, was guilty of missing the target with a couple of long-range shots that he has become so accustomed to getting on target and this lack of edge seemed to effect the rest of his team.

Arjen Robben was also guilty of missing the goal with a golden chance that has the Stamford Bridge crowd on their feet after the ball became tangled up in the side-netting.

Chelsea attempted to lay siege to the Liverpool to the Liverpool box in the final stages of the game, but with Sami Hyypia in superb form there was no way through and Liverpool hung on to claim some sort of revenge after their 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Mourinho's side in their previous league game.

Liverpool can now look forward to the draw for the last-16 knowing that having won Group G, they will now definitely avoid both Milan based clubs, French champions Lyon and the might of Barcelona.

"We have more points than the others so we have done a good job," Benitez said. "Normally it's better to finish first but it depends on the draw."

Mourinho will continue to insist that he does not care who his team faces in the next round, but I'm sure he would prefer the likes of Glasgow Rangers or PSV Eindhoven if given the choice.

Both teams will have a clearer idea of what awaits them in the next round when UEFA meets in Nyon on the 16th December to hold the draw.

Man-of-the-Match: Sami Hyypia for an outstanding display of defensive prowess.

Turning Point: Whatever Jose Mourinho said during the break clearly had an effect on his players, but in the end it was not quite enough.

Talking Point: The horror challenge from Michael Essien that was lucky not to bring Dietmar Hamann's night to a premature end.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005 

Lovenkrands edges Rangers through (Rangers 1 - Inter 1)

Rangers squeezed into the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday as they battled to a 1-1 draw with Inter. The Gers claimed second in Group H - behind the Italians - to become the first side from Scotland to reach the knockout stages of the competition.

Inter, who were already qualified before this match, took the opportunity to bring in a few young players, notably Marco Andreolli who gained his first Champions League start. Roberto Mancini did bring out the big guns as well, giving both Adriano and Obafemi Martins starting berths.

The first minutes of the match were dominated by Rangers although they did not really create much in the way of clear scoring opportunities. Inter were content to sit back and wait out the storm. Once the pressure from Alex McLeish's men let up, Inter started putting their game into place.

It was not Inter at their best but a series of corner kicks taken by Sinisa Mihajlovic eventually paid off. The corner came in and Adriano sent a header into the back of the net. Round about a half of an hour gone and Inter were 1-0 up.

Inter looked to be in control of the match going towards half time but in the 38th minute Lovenkrands beat the offside trap and went one on one with Inter keeper; Francesco Toldo. He took the goal well to put Inter back on level terms.

1-1 was the score at the break. The second half was nothing to write home about. Neither side seemed particularly inclined to look for a winning goal. Things turned scrappy, with some heavy challenges going in.


Both sides had a few half chances, but really neither keeper was tested during the second 45 minutes of the match. Going up towards the 70 minute mark there was a bit of a bust up between the two sets of players.

At the heart of it was, according to the Inter players, a foul on Andreolli. The youngster looked to be in considerable pain and had to be replaced by Javier Zanetti. The referee, Mr. Plautz, was slow in getting the match back under control.

Tensions were clearly running high towards the end of the match with Rangers' players not knowing if they were through to the next round or not. In the 87th minute, Cristiano Zanetti picked up a second yellow card and was sent off. It was a silly sending off and Zanetti will now be unavailable for the first leg of the next round.

The final whistle went and an entire stadium held its breath, waiting for confirmation of the 0-0 score in Bratislava between Artmedia Bratislava and Porto. Confirmation came and Ibrox exploded in joy.

The Champions League is the only thing saving Rangers' season at the moment and for now at least they continue on in Europe's premier competition.

Man of the Match: Peter Lovenkrands - He took his goal well and set the stage for a historic moment of Rangers history.


Monday, December 05, 2005 

Hamburg 3 - 1 Cologne

HSV grabbed a deserved 3-1 home win over Cologne on Saturday afternoon (3.12.05), in front of a 55,800 sell out crowd in the AOL Arena. Thimothee Atouba put the home side ahead two minutes before half time scoring his first ever goal for the club. Benny Lauth scored HSV’s second on 54 minutes. Former HSV defender Björn Schlicke pulled one back fort he visitors only 4 minutes later, before Sergej Barbarez put the game beyond Cologne with a headed goal on 74 minutes.

Full strength HSV
Thomas Doll mighty relieved that the flu bug which had depleted his squad at the start of the week had vanished at the right time, allowing the HSV coach the rare luxury of picking the same side which won 1-0 away to Leverkusen in round 14.

Rapolder chops and changes
Cologne missed round 14 as the weather put paid to their away match against Duisburg. Their coach Uwe Rapolder made 3 changes to his side which drew 2-2 with Schalke in round 13. Matip, Epstein and Szabics (making his debut for Cologne) replaced Lell, Mokhtari and Scherz in his starting line-up in Hamburg.

Lively visitors
Cologne surprised the capacity crowd by beginning the game in aggressive mood. They didn’t allow HSV to settle and the home side was bogged down in its own half for the opening minutes. HSV made a cautious start to the round 15 clash. Their opening warning shot came on 11 minutes as the Cologne keeper Wessels easily dealt with a van der Vaart free kick from an acute angle.

van der Vaart off injured
The game was over for HSV’s Dutch master on 17 minutes. Doll replaced the playmaker with the youngster Laas, after van der Vaart limped of with what looked like an ankle injury. Trochowski took over as playmaker, and had a chance to put his side in front on 25 minutes as he was put through by a superb pass by Sergej Barbarez. Sinkiewicz however, was able to clear his lines in the nick of time. David Jarolim picked up his fifth yellow card and will miss the visit of Hertha to Hamburg in round 16.

Atouba’s first Bundesliga goal!
HSV finally woke up and began to exert some pressure, while the visitors waited fort he chance to counter attack. Niggly fouls interrupted the flow of the game, and the home side was unable to breach the massed Cologne defence at first. Barbarez had the ball on the edge of the area following an Atouba throw in on 43 minutes. Alpay tried to clear but could only put the ball at the feet of Atouba, who blasted home a left foot shot from inside the area, his first ever Bundesliga goal.

Half time scuffle
HSV went into the half time break with a one goal advantage. During half time there was apparently a scuffle on the way to the changing rooms involving Alpay, one of the players who had to answer to FIFA after the scandalous World Cup play off match between Turkey and Switzerland.

Lauth scores, Laas bleeds…
Both sides emerged for the second half unchanged. On 54 minutes, Barbarez back headed a Beinlich corner to Benny Lauth, who scored his second goal of the season from 2 metres out. As HSV was celebrating that goal, missiles were thrown at the HSV players from the Cologne fan block. One of those objects was a wooden drumstick which hit Laas on the head causing a nasty head wound. The youngster went off for treatment but returned to the field of play shortly afterwards

Schlicke scores against his former club
Cologne to their credit, refused to lie down, and pulled a goal back on 58 minutes as Björn Schlicke got to a Podolski free kick before van Buyten and head home against his former club. After that goal the game improved in quality, mainly because Cologne went in search of an equaliser, which allowed HSV more room.

Game over
A mistake by Alpay led to HSV’s third goal. Under no pressure whatsoever, the Turk passed the ball to Beinlich, who played a high hopeful ball into the box. Wessels came off his line for the ball, but Barbarez reached it first, heading over the advancing keeper and into the net on73 minutes. It was game over for Cologne after that, and there were no further goals from either side.

600th win for HSV!
The victory over Cologne was HSV’s 600th in their long Bundesliga history. After an average first 45 minutes, the game improved in the second half. Thomas Doll’s side deserved to win on the balance of play. Cologne fought hard, but was somehow missing the class needed to win such a match.The win moves HSV two points closer to Bayern Munich, who only drew 0-0 away to Stuttgart after having Sebastian Deisler sent off during the first half.

HSV: 12 Kirschstein - 7 Mahdavikia, 20 Demel, 5 van Buyten, 3 Atouba - 14 Jarolim, 22 Beinlich, 15 Trochowski (75.Ziegler), 23 van der Vaart (17.Laas) - 10 Barbarez, 11 Lauth (89.Takahara)

Cologne: 33 Wessels - 22 Schlicke, 20 Sinkiewicz, 27 Alpay (75.Mokhtari), 4 Benschneider - 21 Schindzielorz, 25 Matip - 7 A. Streit, 10 Podolski (75.Scherz), 39 Epstein - 19 Szabics (85.Lell)

Goals: 1-0 Atouba (43.), 2-0 Lauth (54.), 2-1 Schlicke (58.), 3-1 Barbarez (74.)



Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Bayern Munchen 15 38
2. Hamburg 15 34
3. Bremen 15 32
4. Schalke 15 28
5. Hertha 15 25


Maritimo 0 - 1 Benfica

Benfica ended a six-game winless streak in all competitions on Saturday with a 1-0 victory at CS Marítimo. Mantorras scored the only goal of the game in the second half of a tight contest after coming on as a substitute for Andrei Kariaka. The Angolan international had an effort disallowed shortly after the break before claiming the winner on 65 minutes. The victory was enough to move Benfica up to sixth in the Portuguese Liga standings, still six points adrift of leaders FC Porto.

Going into the game, Benfica coach Ronald Koeman was without Simão, Fabrizio Miccoli (both thigh), Manuel Fernandes (groin), Giorgios Karagounis (foot) and goalkeeper José Moreira (knee). Faced with these problems the Dutch coach handed Alcides a rare start at right-back, while there was also room for centre-back Ricardo Rocha, who replaced Anderson in the lineup.

Koeman later revealed: "It was very hard for us. We started well but after ten minutes we faced difficulties. However, we deserved to win because we had several chances to score, while Marítimo didn't enjoy any. This result is very important for us because it allows us to go into the match against Manchester United in a better frame of mind".


Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Porto 13 28
2. Nacional 13 27
3. Setubal 13 26
4. Braga 13 26
5. Sporting 13 24
6. Benfica 13 22



Fiorentina 1 - 2 Juventus

Fiorentina generous and unlucky, Juventus ruthless. The Bianconeri took the lead with Trezeguet, but Pazzini equalized with a great header. The Viola hit the wood three times, incredible the last one of Toni with Abbiati already defeated. Two minutes from the end, Camoranesi took advantage of a defensive mistake and scored the match winner. The Franchi applauded a beautiful match.

Goals: 7’fh Trezeguet, 39’fh Pazzini, 43’sh Camoranesi

Fiorentina: Frey, Ujfalusi, Di Loreto, Gamberini, Pasqual, Brocchi (42’sh Brocchi), Donadel, Pazienza, Fiore (16’sh Maggio), Jorgensen (20’sh Pazzini), Toni. (Cejas, Dainelli, Maggio, Montolivo, Pancaro, Pazzini, Bojnov). Coach: Prandelli

Juventus: Abbiati, Zambrotta, Thuram, Cannavaro, Chiellini, Camoranesi, Emerson (46’sh Kovac), Vieira, Nedved, Trezeguet (46’sh Mutu), Ibrahimovic. ( Buffon, Kovac, Del Piero, Balzaretti, Mutu, Blasi, Giannichedda). Coach: Capello


Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Juventus 14 39
2. Milan 14 31
3. Fiorentina 14 29
4. Inter 14 29
5. Livorno 14 25



PSV 3 - 0 NAC Breda

Apart from an own goal by Alex, PSV have still not conceded a goal in the Eindhoven Philips Stadium so far this season yet. Ruling Dutch champions PSV maintained their leading position on top of the Dutch table by a convincing 3-0 win over NAC Breda (3-0) on Saturday night and as Feyenoord and RBC Roosendaal shared honours, the Eindhoven outfit have extended their lead by two points.

Goals: 53 Vennegoor of Hesselink, 78 Farfán, 88 Koné


Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. PSV 14 35
2. Feyenoord 14 32
3. AZ 14 32
4. NEC 14 24
5. Vitesse 14 23



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