UEFA Cup Match Day 3
Manchester City started early in Group A with a fantastic 2-0 away win in Germany beating group leaders Schalke to maintain their 100% record. Stephen Ireland’s 66th minute strike doubled the first half lead given to them by Benjani.
PSG entertained Racing Club in the other fixture and entertainment was what the fans got. Kezman’s opener for the home team gave them a great start and when Luyindula doubled the lead on 32minutes Racing looked a beaten side. Yet the visitors pulled one back through the unfortunate Traore who put through his own net and a 55th minute Colsa equaliser set up a tremendous last 30 minutes.
Group B leaders Galatasaray suffered a shock 1-0 home defeat to unfancied Metalist thanks to an 81st minute Edmar strike. Olympiacos produced a similar shock performance with an amazing 5-1 demolition of Benfica. Goals were shared between Galletti, Patsatzoglou, Belluschi and Diogo who grabbed a brace. A sole David Luiz strike midway through the first half was all Benfica could take away from an otherwise miserable night.
Group C leaders Sampdoria saw Stuttgart travel to Italy whilst Partizan played Standard Liege in Belgrade. Stuttgart took a surprise lead through Marica but it lasted only half an hour as Sammarco brought the home team level. However, they couldn’t break the fierce resistance of the German defence and had to settle for what would have been a disappointing draw for the home fans. A De Camargo goal separated the sides in the second match as the Belgian visitors played themselves into a great position in the group.
Tottenham continued their revival with a 1-0 victory over NEC in Group D. Jamie O’Hara gave Spurs their second group stage win with a 14th minute header. Moscow outfit Spartak gained a valuable away win against Dinamo Zagreb after Saenki struck late in the second half.
UEFA Cup finally arrived for English FA Cup winners Portsmouth as Italian giants AC Milan came to Fratton Park. After a goalless first half which saw Inzaghi waste a couple of golden opportunities to send Milan clear, it was Pompey who grabbed the initiative as Kaboul headed home. Even better followed as great work down the wing from Glenn Johnson saw his cross blasted high into the roof of the net by former Inter player Kanu. Portsmouth looked on their way to a famous victory despite the late introduction of Ronaldinho and the fans even resorted to typical humour although the chant of ‘are you Bournemouth in disguise?‘ may have been wasted on their visitors. Yet it was the brilliant Brazilian whose superb 84th minute free kick gave Milan hope and Inzaghi, questionable outside the box but deadly inside, finally got it right with a wonderful first touch and instinctive second touch strike that broke Pompey hearts and gave the Italians a late, late equaliser.
Braga against Wolfsburg seemed tame by comparison but their 1-1 draw, through goals from Meyong and Dzeko respectively, leaves both teams well placed to grab qualifying places ahead of Portsmouth at present.
The four teams in Group F managed a single goal between them. Santiago’s 77th minute strike was enough to give Ajax all 3 points in Hamburg while Zilnia and Prague fought out a goalless draw that assisted neither side, both pointless until now. Most happy from tonight’s results would be leaders at the opening of the evening, Aston Villa, who now look certain to qualify.
Group G leaders St Etienne were looking to ensure qualification with their visit to Brugge and Gigliotti’s late first half goal put them on their way. But the home side still have a good chance of progression themselves and a Vargas equaliser on 50 minutes was enough to keep those hopes alive. Second placed Valencia enjoyed a 4-0 win in Rosenburg with goals from Mata, Pablo, Baraja and Joaquin putting them firmly into the qualifying picture.
Group H leaders CSKA made it 3 wins out of 3 albeit with a not so comfortable 2-1 win against Lech in Moscow. First half goals from Dzagoev and Zhirkov took them into the break but a 66th minute reply from Stilic left the Russian side to hang on for the final half hour. The other match saw the bottom two sides clash in Spain. Deportivo triumphed courtesy of strikes from Lopo and Guardado split by a Hofland own goal and must have been relieved to see their road to qualification from the group stage made a little easier as a result.
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