Date:Monday October 23 2006
Whilst Rovers were defying the age old scripture of law of averages and contriving to lose a game that they should have won our Group E UEFA Cup opponents shared a mixed bag of results.
It is perhaps fair to begin with our next opponents F C Basel.
They have been stuttering of late in their league but have shown a marked improvement in their last two games.
Whilst Rovers were leaving it late against Wisla, Basel suffered from an undignified late equaliser at home to Feyenoord. They were rampant and should have had the game sewed up by half-time.
That form inspired their commanding victory against Switzerland`s oldest club, St Gallen (who you may recall beat Chelsea in this competition a few years ago) at the weekend. They were 2-0 up thanks to goals from midfielder Ivan Ratitic and Serbian, Ivan Ergic. St Gallen pulled one back with 18 minutes remaining but Basel held on.
This victory leaves them fifth in the league with 16 points from 11 games; 11 points behind leaders Grasshoppers Zurich.
Moving on; we thought our result was tough to take? Well at least we aren`t Feyenoord fans. They were destroyed by a buoyant Ajax side 4-0 at home. It was billed the game of the weekend and it didn`t disappoint for action.
Ajax took a 2-0 half-time lead thanks to two goals from 2006 signing Klass van Huntelaar. The exciting young Dutchman has been performing well since his transfer from Heerenveen and you may recall he was the first person to score in Arsenal`s new Emirates Stadium.
The rout was completed in the second half thanks to two goals from recent acquisition Kenneth Perez. However, the drama wasn`t over.
Frustration got the better of the Feyenoord players as Pierre van Hooijdonk and Sebastian Pardo were both sent off.
Nancy Lorraine kept up their promising early season form but, like Feyenoord they finished the game with a deficit of men.
A 1-0 over bottom club Nantes, thanks to a goal from Michael Chretien ensured they kept the pressure on Lique 1`s top two, Lyon and Marseilles. Pape Diakhate was sent off late on for Nancy.
Nancy have now only conceded a single goal in their last five games and have lost only once in their 10 league fixtures. They are third with 19 points.
Finally, Rovers` victory over Wisla seemed to take a knock-on effect.
They could only manage a goalless draw at the weekend away against 6th placed Zaglebie. They are still top with 21 points from 11 games but their manager, Dragomir Okuka, is obviouls concerned. He is quoted on uefa.com saying:
"We are in a tough position after losing our first match at home in the UEFA Cup, but we`ll do our best. We have a tough run in front of us, with many hard matches, but I believe my team will show our strength. I can`t promise anything, only our best possible performance. We will also need a little bit of luck, as always in football."
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Date:Monday October 23 2006
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