Friday, October 31, 2008

Leeds travels to Cheltenham

Following the mid-week loss to Southend, Leeds needs a wake-up call as they go forward against Cheltenham. Three points out of first they have dropped points they should have won and niceties aside, that is not the mark of the team headed towards promotion. My tally has ten points dropped that poor focus has caused and in a year where League One is bunched-up, that will come back to haunt them. Gary McAllister's task is a tough one because Leeds has by-far the best talent in the League but must play as such and attack with ruthless intent each week without fail. Their weaknesses to date have been a lacking of urgency as well as literally slowing the match down and allowing the opposition to catch-up. The reigns must be lifted and Fabian Delph and Jonny Howson must push the ball forward for Robert Snodgrass, Jermaine Beckford and Luciano Becchio without allowing the match to slow even the slightest.

In discussing the Cheltenham match assistant manager Steve Staunton:

"It will be their cup final but every game we play is a cup final for our players. The good thing is that they know that. They are well used to being the favourites and it is a case now of going there, rolling up their sleeves, getting playing as quickly as possible and trying to score a few goals.

"It is always important to win whether it is home or away but after a couple of away league defeats I think it is important that we don't lose the game tomorrow. Then we can look forward to a couple of home games."

Paul Huntington, Paul Telfer and Alan Sheehan are all questionable for Leeds and will be a match-time decision. Cheltenham is limping into the match with David Bird, Alex Russell, Shane Duff, Ashley Vincent, Damian Spencer and John Finnigan out and Lloyd Owusu suspended.

I will report on the match once it concludes and as always we're Marching on Together.

Caley Thistle comes to Ibrox

Caley Thistle visit Ibrox Saturday morning to face the Rangers in a match that could mark the return of Gers captain Barry Ferguson to the lineup. Out due to an off-season ankle surgery, his recovery has went well and he will provide the club a major boost in a tough match.

As always Craig Brewster can expect inspired performances by Ross Tokely, Russell Duncan and Roy McBain as they wear the crest with pride and regardless of your allegiance they are impossible not to appreciate. In a sport where crests are traded as quickly as the bank-transfer clears, these men stand tall for Caley Thistle and will push them forward.

Both clubs are fully-fit with Rangers Steven Whittaker the only exception.

I will report on the match as it concludes.

One positive from Rangers fall-out

Rangers fall from European competition to FBK Kaunas has at least one positive outcome as today UEFA announced that SPL runners-up who lose in the Champions League qualifier will now drop in the new the Europa League. This summer the Rangers were upset by Lithuania unit FBK Kaunas which subsequently pushed them out of all European competition. The new league will also allow for the SPL's fourth-placed club a spot in the second qualifying round with the third-place club in the next round.

Everton to keep streak going

Following Wednesday's 1-0 victory over Bolton, Roy Hodgson and company are welcomed to Goodison with David Moyes looking for his one-hundredth victory stewarding Everton. The Toffees are in a peculiar situation at present as the normal strong record at home has evaporated this year as they are winless in five matches.

After returning from suspension, Tim Cahill may miss the match due an injury and along with Leon Osman, will face a pre-match fitness test. Nuno Valente is a definite "no-show" with minor knee problems. Fulham are relatively healthy with only Toni Kallio and Seol Ki-Hyeon out. Marouane Fellaini is anxious to continue his heroic efforts and per the club web-site, he said how pleased he was with life in the Merseyside and giving his best for the fans. That will be needed tomorrow as through the course of the season this is one of "those" matches which you need maximal points on if you are to move into the top of the table.

Schalke to dominate die Lausitzer

Schalke and Energie Cottbus matches last year were completely "night and day" with both clubs winning at home. Lausitzer were not very friendly winning 1-0 at Stadion der Freundschaft but in May die Königsblauen demolished them 5-0 with Kevin Kurányi netting the final four goals.

Although Energie sits at the bottom of the Bundesliga table, their performances haven't been as bad as their record suggests and just keep finding themselves on the wrong end of the score by a goal. Bojan Prašnikar's club is deserving of respect and Schalke must proceed with caution. This past weekend this secured a difficult point against Arminia Bielefeld even though they were constantly under seige and playing a man down for half the match. They play a tough challenge-heavy brand of Football that supporters can be proud-of and make use of good scouting contacts through the broadly defined Balkan region. Unfortunately for Die Lausitzer their relegation fight starts sometime near the first Löwenbräu being served at Oktoberfest so that toughness is called upon early. Ivan Radeljić will miss the match due to suspension and late fitness tests will decide whether
Branko Jelić or Ivica Iliev will replace him or Stiven Rivić will be brought up from the wing to work alongside Dennis Sørensen. Igor Mitreski and Stanislav Angelov are still out of the defending group.

Fred Rutten knows die Königsblauen are heading into a tough run, fully-fit and will look to kill this match off in an efficient manner. Following this match they face a nine-day stretch with Racing Santander in the UEFA Cup followed up by Bayern München and Bayer Leverkusen.

to overcome Werkself you must defend

As Wolfsburg gets set to play Bruno Labbadia's Bayer Leverkusen they will need to adopt a defensive strong-hold if they are to succeed. Whilst Wölfe supporters rose with this Tuesdays 3-0 victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach the match prior to Bayern München saw them cast aside fundamentals as they were embarrassed with four unanswered goals after taking a 2-0 lead. Although a loss to Bayern in Allianz Arena isn't a sin, to ignore classic strategies when you have such a strong lead lays an enormous specter of doubt regarding Wolfsburg's hopes for a Champions League bid.

Bruno Labbadia has Werkself playing intelligent Football and are in the midst of a three match winning streak whilst holding the opposition off the score-sheet in the last two-hundred seventy minutes. Their lone stumble in October was at the hands of Hertha BSC when Andriy Voronin scored for the Berliners as time was running out. They boast a young die Mannschaft capped striking duo of Patrick Helmes and Stefan Kießling that will create havoc and will require the utmost attention for the Wolfsburg back-line. To add to Wolfsburg's concerns, Swiss international Tranquillo Barnetta has returned from injury, thus jettisoning Werkself attacking at even a faster clip. Felix Magath has indicated that this match will be a full blown end-to-end attacking affair, which indicates Cristian Zaccardo is likely to start on the bench which is unfortunate as Wolfsburg would be best served to have him in the back-line with Andrea Barzagli and dictate Bayer Leverkusen's attack due to defensive maneuvering. This in-essence would create the "chess play" that would increase the countering ability of Grafite and the brilliant Bosnia and Herzegovina connection of Zvjezdan Misimović and Edin Džeko.

I will report on the match as it concludes

can anyone stop Dynamo Kyiv?

Can anyone stop Dynamo Kyiv this year?

Twelve matches into the season and ex-Locomotiv Moscow manager Yuri Semin has Dynamo Kyiv not "just winning" but dominating in every facet of the game. With only two slip-ups, they are scoring at a five-fold clip to what they allow. Dynamo Kyiv faces Karpaty Lviv on Saturday in a match that should be no problem and they will likely rest players ahead of next weeks return to the Champions League against Porto.

The biggest match of the weekend is Metalurh Donetsk's visit to Vorskla Poltava. Both clubs have pulled away from the balance of the table and this match-up of the second and third position of the table could prove to be very important later-on as European spots are won.

Elsewhere in the Ukrainian Premier League:

Zorya Luhansk at Shakhtar Donetsk
Metalurh Donetsk at Vorskla Poltava
Arsenal at Metalurh Zaporizhya
Kharkiv at Illichivets
Karpaty Lviv at Dynamo Kyiv
Chornomorets at Metalist Kharkiv
Tavriya Simferopol at Lviv
Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih at Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk

Drop by on Monday for a summary of all Ukrainian Premier League matches

Romania Liga 1 week 13 ahead

In last weekend in Liga 1 was without many surprises or lacked suspense this weekend makes up for it with one important match after another.

With week 12 Timişoara continued its climb up the table and are only five points behind Dinamo after dealing with a six point deduction to start the season. Facing Oţelul Galaţi they should be able to make up ground because the big match of the weekend is the classic Bucureşti derby; Dinamo Bucureşti vs Steaua Bucureşti at Dinamo Stadion with it Dorinel Munteanu's first true match leading Roş-Albaştrii. Dinamo's striking combination of Florin Bratu and Ionel Dănciulescu are scoring at a stunning pace that Victor Piţurcă must take notice.

In the rest of the league action:

CFR Cluj - Unirea Voluntari Urziceni
Oţelul Galaţi - FC Timişoara
Gloria Bistriţa - Argeş Piteşti
Universitatea Craiova - CS Otopeni
Rapid Bucureşti - Gloria Buzau
FC Vaslui - Gaz Metan Mediaş
Farul Constanţa - FC Braşov
Politehnica Iaşi - CS Pandurii Târgu Jiu

Drop by on Monday for a summary of all Liga 1 matches

SPL week 11

Leading into week eleven of the Scottish Premier League, Celtic has a firm three-point lead over the Rangers with the balance of the table packed firmly within only six points.

Of the many great story-lines this campaign the rise of Kilmarnock is one of the most exciting. Last year Jim Jefferies Killie stood only above Gretna, yet this year they have turned it around and now sit in third-place. This weekend they travel to to Aberdeen to face Jimmy Calderwood's Dons in a critically important match for both clubs. In the past Pittodrie Stadium has been a fortress for them but this year their normal stingy record at home has fallen.

Elsewhere on Saturday the Hamilton Accies visit Motherwell. The great start of Billy Reid's Accies' in a distant memory as they have dropped five straight matches and their promising offensive attack has lost pace and confidence. The 'Well are coming off a tough win over Caley Thistle and showing signs of returning to last years form. Young striker David Clarkson screams promise and looks capable of becoming a fixture for Scotland.

Don't miss out on these other exciting SPL matches this weekend:

Dundee Utd @ Falkirk
Inverness Caley Thistle @ Rangers
Hibernian @ St Mirren
Celtic @ Hearts

Celtic 10 8 1 1 27 13 25
Rangers 9 7 1 1 18 7 22
Kilmarnock 10 5 1 4 11 11 16
Dundee Utd 9 4 2 3 12 10 14
Hearts 10 4 2 4 12 15 14
Hibernian 10 4 2 4 12 15 14
Motherwell 10 4 1 5 14 16 13
Aberdeen 10 3 2 5 9 12 11
St Mirren 10 3 2 5 8 11 11
Inverness Caley Thistle 10 3 1 6 12 13 10
Falkirk 10 3 1 6 14 17 10
Hamilton 10 3 0 7 10 19 9

Green-Whites fight back

With the Green-Whites recent stumble journalists have circled around throwing out ideas of a "crisis" in Bremen. Obviously most of these journalist types have never stepped out on the pitch because what they haven't said is that although the team is stricken with a string of injuries they have had the fortitude to gut-out draws. However as those injury situations are solved, the Green Whites will respond and with a tough match against Hertha BSC on Saturday, the call to arms has been made.

Todays practice featured the return of Claudio Pizarro, Torsten Frings and Diego. Along with Per Mertesacker who returns from suspension the club has a lot to say about the "crisis" this weekend against the Berliners.

In "coach-speak" Thomas Schaaf said:

"I hope that they’ll be fit for Saturday."

Which for those unaccustomed to "coach-speak" it means it's time to tighten your boots a bit and defend Weserstadion.

He went on to further note that Daniel Jensen, Peter Niemeyer, Martin Harnik and Hugo Almeida are definitely out with Clemens Fritz is questionable.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Russian Women advance to Euro 2009

Russia's Women's team advance to the UEFA Women'S EURO 2009 after getting by a hearty group from Scotland. Following a 3-2 victory over Scotland in Edinburgh the second leg returned to Nalchik and although Scotland put up a great front winning 2-1, Russia advances per the "away goal" rule.

Unfortunately for the Scots they fell victim to an unfortunate own goal of Ifeoma Dieke's twenty minutes after the opening whistle as she was trying to clear a Olga Petrova cross. The Tartan charge was lead by none other than Pauline Hamill. The great Hibernian striker dug-in and pulled a goal back twenty minutes after the break and a further with five minutes remaining, however Russia was able to hold on and now advances to Finland next summer.

Results from Spain - Netherlands and Iceland - Republic of Ireland are yet to be completed, however Ukraine and Italy have made it through to the finals as well.

Ukrainian Cup showdown on the horizon!

After Dynamo Kyiv had won the Ukrainian Cup three years in a row Shakhtar Donetsk was able to wrestle the trophy from them last year. In the round of sixteen complete, favoured clubs advanced with the exception of Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and Lviv who fell to Stal Alchevsk. With this round you saw most Premier League clubs focus more on upcoming league matches and use substitutes. However all that will change in the next round with it looking like another Dynamo Kyiv - Shakhtar Donetsk final is in the making and Yuri Semin is anxious to bring the hardware back to Kyiv

Results from the day:

Obolon Kiev 1
Vorskla Poltava 4

Fenix-İllichovets - 0
Tavriya Simferopol - 2

Zakarpattia Uzhgorod 1
Shakhtar Donetsk 4

PFC Olexandria Olexandria 1 (6-5)
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 1

Stal Alchevsk 2
Lviv 0

Kharkiv 0
Metalurh Donetsk 2

Dynamo Kyiv 2
Zorya Luhansk 0

Metalist Kharkiv 3
Arsenal 1

Rosgosstrakh Championship of Russia gets more complicated

The mid-week catch-up matches in Russia made the race for UEFA Cup spots quite a bit more complicated.

Without fail, Lokomotiv Moscow defeated Shinnik Yaroslav 3-0 on the strength of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's brace. However it wasn't easy for Lokomotiv as Shinnik fought hard and it wasn't till twenty minutes remained that the Russian capped attacker opened the scoring. With Shinnik pouring forward to equalize Peter Odemwingie doubled the score with three minutes remaining only for Diniyar to add the third two minutes later.

However the big surprise of the day was once again Zenit Saint Petersburg's lack of conviction. In front of a disappointed crowd at Petrovski, Zenit played Saturn Moscow Oblast meekly to a 2-2 draw and put their UEFA Cup bid in serious jeopardy. Viktor Faitzulin got the home squad off right only eight minutes after the start but veteran Andrei Karyaka leveled the match two minutes later. Incredibly Saturn Moscow took the lead five minutes before the half with Marko Topić netting the lead goal. Fatih Tekke came to the rescue for Zenit to salvage a point with eight minutes remaining but it is anything but clearly sailing for the defending champions and they are locked in a tie with surging Spartak Moscow in the final spot for the UEFA Cup. To add to the suspense, these two giants face each other at Luzhniki on November 22.

With four weeks remaining on the books the title is Kurban Berdyev's Rubin Kazan and the race for the European spots are as follows:

Rosgosstrakh Championship of Russia
Rubin Kazan 26 17 6 3 40 16 57
CSKA Moscow 26 14 8 4 45 21 50
Dynamo Moscow 26 12 8 6 35 28 44
Amkar Perm' 26 11 8 7 25 20 41
Zenit St Petersburg 26 10 10 6 53 34 40
Spartak Moscow 26 10 10 6 39 33 40
Lokomotiv Moscow 26 10 8 8 31 28 38
Samara Kryliya Sovetov 26 9 11 6 36 25 38

no crisis with the Green Whites

The "crisis" of the early Green-White season has many notably concerned. However found on the clubs web-site is an interview of management that not only addresses the problem but it represents the granite-solid leadership of the club.

The article is "just words" in some regards to me but the intent is the true point. Through the fog of a tough winless streak, the club didn't shy away from the problem but instead pushed the pedal down and went straight at.

Quoting Klaus Allofs:

"Ich habe keine Angst vor dem Wort Krise"

Spoken like a true leader, Herr Allofs comments, loosely translated as "I have no fear at all of the word crisis", addresses the problem the club is having right now.

As a player and as a supporter, this is what you want to hear from leaders. Admission of the problems but a firm statement that their is no crisis.

Paraphrasing his comments he simply states that presently we haven't met our goals and are in negative trend. He adds thats passing lacks comprehension and defensive movement is not killing off the oppositions attacking forays. Noting further that there many aspects of play that people are used to seeing are absent but hopefully they will rise to the surface shortly.

There is no crisis in Werder Bremen. It is a difficult slump during a portion of the season when the team is weighted down with injuries. The competitive nature of the Bundesliga is such that even the slightest flaw in your performance will be preyed upon, which is precisely what clubs have been doing this month. However with the clubs leadership you can count on this problem being rectified shortly.

Rossoblu continue to climb with victory over Cagliari

Genoa continues to climb up the Serie A table with a 2-1 victory over Cagliari at Stadio Luigi Ferraris. Following the victory the Rossoblu sit only four points behind co-leaders Udinese and Napoli and sets up an enormous battle against Pasquale Marino's Bianconeri this Sunday.

Spirits were high in Genoa but to the surprise of the home fans, it was Cagliari threatening first. The visitors nearly got the first off the mark first with Diego López only minutes after the match began and later at the twenty minute mark when Andrea Parola narrowly missed a volley from a corner. However mid the first half Giandomenico Mesto threaded a pass to Sokratis Papastrathopoulos in-close and the young Greek international did not fail with the finish. With a few squandered opportunities behind them, Genoa doubled the margin when Diego Milito linked a perfect set-up to Thiago Motta eleven minutes after the break. However an easy finish for the home squad was not in the offing as Paolo Bianco poached a rebound of Michele Fini's free-kick. With the score now 2-1, Cagliari was controlling play but were reduced to ten-men with thirteen minutes remaining when Michele Fini was excused with his second yellow card in six minutes. Gian Piero Gasperini called upon Gian Piero Gasperini at the eight-second minute to successfully kill the match off and Genoa continued their home streak of five wins this campaign.

PSG loses to Toulouse in dreary affair

Following the great victory over l'OM this weekend, PSG lost 1-0 to Toulouse at Parc de Princes in front of 42,000+. Alain Casanova’s le Téfécé played a flawless match and nullified the striking trident of Pegguy Luyindula,Guillaume Hoarau and Fabrice Pancrate / Ludovic Giuly. The few attempts towards Toulouse 'keeper Cédric Carrasso were all long range attempts with low probabilities. The lone goal of the match was unfortunate lone-goal by Zoumana Camara with twenty-five minutes remaining and following it, PSG was unable to generate a serious attempt to level the match.

Beyond the loss PSG loss Fabrice Pancrate fifteen minutes in. Once the club reveals the extent of the injury I will post.

PSG travels to the Côte d'Azur to face Nice this Saturday.

Mickaël Landreau,Zoumana Camara,Grégory Bourillon (Mateja Kežman 71'),Sylvain Armand,Ceará, Claude Makélélé, Jérôme Rothen,Stephane Sessegnon (Clément Chantôme 60)
Péguy Luyindula,Guillaume Hoarau,Fabrice Pancrate(Ludovic Giuly 15')

Cédric Carrasso,Mohamed Fofana,Mauro Cetto,Cheikh M'Bengue,Daniel Congre,Etienne Didot,Francois Sirieix(Ahmed Soukouna 45'),Etienne Capoue,Jérémy Mathieu,Moussa Sissoko,André-Pierre Gignac

Gareth Southgate wants to play Man City every week

Following the celebratory Stoke City victory Gareth Southgate's Middlesbrough brought Man City back to reality with a 2-0 loss. The story of the match could easily be said to be the 'Boro back-line of Chris Riggott, Andrew Taylor, David Wheater and skipper Emanuel Pogatetz holding the City attack and skewing sight-lines. Whilst City were able to generate a number of attempts, they weren't high percentage attempts and largely due in part to the classic work on Boro's back-line and stellar goalkeeping by Ross Turnbull. Scoreless to the break, Afonso Alves scored from the spot at the fifty-third minute after Daniel Sturridge was adjudged to fouling David Wheater in the area. Man City seemed to lack urgency and attempts to level were few and far between. Deep into added-time Gary O'Neil doubled the final score with Middlesbrough defeating Man City 2-0.

Mark Hughes has his forces back on the pitch this Sunday against Bolton.

its hard not to be a supporter of Köln

Die Schwarzgelben overcame an near-perfect defensive plan by FC Köln to win 1-0 in a packed RheinEnergieStadion. While BVB controlled possession of the ball, Christoph Daum's 4-2-3-1 drained the life from the attack and limited scoring chances. After ten matches die Geißböcke are mid-table and playing at a level that makes it easy to forget that they were in the second division last year. Of course, that could be said for TSG Hoffenheim as well and maybe it's about time that upper-tier clubs take notice of their tactical approach.

The out-matched Köln threw a blanket on the BVB attack with Tinga and Tamás Hajnal swarmed by Petit and the die Mannschaft destined Kevin Pezzoni. Jakub Błaszczykowski, who yes wouldn't be left out regardless of having surgery this week on his broken nose was marked tight by Pierre Wome but managed to stir-up trouble as he came close with a header just before the break. However with twenty-five minutes left, BVB finally broke down their defense as Tinga's pass to Tamás Hajnal was linked to Florian Kringe for a efficient finish and the 1-0 lead. FC Köln was unable to launch an effective attack and BVB goes home with the victory and gets ready to face VfL Bochum Sunday evening.

Everton crushes Bolton in last minute

When he came from Standard Liège the phrases used by the media to describe Marouane Fellaini was a "box to box" midfielder although anyone who saw him in Belgium knew he was so much more. Maybe the time has change the description because his goal scoring prowess is quickly making a powerful statement.

Following the difficult loss against Man Utd, marked with Wayne Rooney's ramble-rousing, the Toffees were in a sticky situation. Winless since the fourth week of the season, the bottom of the table was starting to wake-up and a victory was desperately needed.

The last few weeks, we've seen a glimmer of hope raise to a chest thumping roar. The loss to Arsenal stirred that glimmer and against Man Utd with all their awards and gleaming trophy cases, we stood up and we're counted. We rose in strength and found a way to fight and challenge our way to a tough draw. Today that glimmer resounded as once again with their backs against the wall David Moyes' forces dug-in and as time ran-out Steven Pienaar's cross was headed-in by Marouane Fellaini to give them a 1-0 victory over Bolton.

It was not a "classic" victory and if I am to be truthful, Bolton outplayed Everton for the most part. However through a hard-nosed work ethic and never back-down mentality the Toffees head home with three points and await Fulham this Saturday.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wolfsburg defeats Borussia Mönchengladbach

Borussia Mönchengladbach visit to Volkswagen Arena ended with a rousing 3-0 victory for Wolfsburg which positions them, albeit temporarily, in fifth place, five points behind league-leader Bayer Leverkusen.

Borussia manager Hans Meyer in a surprise move, baptized twenty-year old 'keeper Frederic Löhe for his first duty. The young 'keeper stood his ground and wasn't afraid to bark orders to the charges in front of him. Ten minutes after the opening whistle Makoto Hasebe cross to Bosnia and Herzegovina international Edin Džeko narrowly missed giving die Wölfe the lead but bounced off crossbar to safety. Wolfsburg continued to pressure but couldn't find the right finishing touch until five minutes before the half when Grafite converted on the penalty after he had been pulled down in the area by the young 'keeper. The lead was doubled ten minutes after the break when Zvjezdan Misimović's free-kick was headed-in by Alexander Madlung. Felix Magath wisely introduced a fit Cristian Zaccardo into a line-up to lock-down the match with Andrea Barzagli. While Borussia poured forward looking to draw back into the match, the back-line now anchored with the Azzurri duo was impenetrable. With fifteen minutes remaining Gal Alberman was adjudged to fouling Christian Gentner and the spot was pointed to. Zvjezdan Misimović calmly converted giving Wolfsburg the 3-0 lead.

Wolfsburg faces an enormous test this Friday as they face Bayer Leverkusen.

As a final note after reviewing a number of primarily media reports I have to say I am appalled with the lack of respect towards Borussia Mönchengladbach. I am annoyed to no-end that those without a sense of history or knowledge of what the club has meant to Football in Germany are provided the pulpit to write about the sport. Borussia is one of the most important institutions in German Football and their turnaround is something that all true fans of Football in the region should hope for. The survival Die Fohlen of not in question and their success inevitable but more importantly it is time to embrace the sports heritage with respect.

mid-week match-ups in Russia could have a big impact

Two very important match-ups could decide the UEFA Cup selections in the Russia today. Playing catchup with the schedule, relegation condemned Shinnik Yaroslav visit Lokomotiv Moscow while Saturn Moscow Oblast comes to Petrovski to face Zenit St Petersburg. Both Lokomotiv and Zenit are heavily favoured but after each played to a draw their European efforts are in jeopardy.

I will report on the matches as they conclude as well as update the table.

Die Schwarzgelben take on Köln

Die Schwarzgelben take on Köln in match that will see BVB climb into the upper tier of the Bundesliga race. After three consecutive draws they are anxious to get in the win column but will need to get past a physical Köln squad.

BVB's manager Jürgen Klopp will have to shift his lineup around as Dedê's replacement Marcel Schmelzer is out with a muscle strain and unlikely to return to the Hamburger SV match at the earliest. Marc Kruska will also miss the match with a a broken toe and Jakub Błaszczykowski might be pulled-back after breaking his nose against Hertha Berlin. The only way Kuba is ready-to-go but might be held back for his own good considering his injuries are mounting up and BVB has a tough schedule ahead. Diego Klimowicz, Mohamed Zidan and Alexander Frei are likely to team-up in the front line if he is sat.

Köln's return to the top flight of the Bundesliga has been seamless and Christoph Daum has them playing tough football and although they haven't been able to produce a lot of goals, they will not make many errors. They are likely to use a 4-2-3-1, which poses a lot of new tests for BVB as they die Geißböcke with provide plenty of support for the rear-guard and won't be had in the channels. Attacking midfielders Roda Antar, Fabrice Ehret and Nemanja Vučićević will look to free-up lone striker Milivoje Novakovič. Petit and Kevin Pezzoni will supply central defense and will provide plenty of cover for the back-line of Mišo Brečko, Pedro Geromel, Youssef Mohamad and Pierre Wome.

PSV rebounds against ADO Den Haag

After a very difficult series of losses, PSV rebounded with a 2-0 victory over ADO Den Haag. It was by no-means a brilliant victory but after demoralizing losses it was an important statement. Additionally Hubb Stevens switch-up of the lineup was an important statement that positions are earned and not a given. While that shouldn't be the case for professionals much less defending champions, it was an intelligent managerial approach.

After the match, Hubb Stevens commented:
“I feel my side deserved to win the match."

"I am happy with the three points but I realise we did not put in a particularly sparkling performance. There is still ample room for improvement and we will keep working hard to make progress.”

ADO Den Haag manager André Wetzel rightfully noted his support:

“We went into the game with the intention to give our all. We wanted to put pressure on their defence and that’s what we did. I am proud of my players.”

PSV returns to play against Willem II Tilburg this Saturday.

Simons,Zonneveld (Pieters 46'),Eric Addo,Marcellis
Lazovic (Koevermans 87'),Afellay (Nijland 90'),Dzsudzsák

ADO Den Haag
Bosschaart,Ammi,Horváth (Teixeira 46'),Rankovic
Knopper,Verhoek,Schwiebbe (Meric 69'),Immers,Resodihardjo (De Geer 46')

Newcastle finally wins

West Brom was the perfect anecdote for Newcastle's long winless streak as the Magpies went on to a 2-1 victory in front of 45,000 at St James' Park. Newcastle manager Joe Kinnear gave the start to the convicted violent offender Joey Barton and was rewarded with his goal from the spot nine minutes after the start when Ryan Donk was adjudged to fouling Shola Ameobi in the area. The lead boosted Newcastle's confidence and at the forty-second minute, Habib Beye's cross was headed in by Obefami Martins to double the lead. West Brom showed some fight and twenty minutes after the break Robert Koren played a through ball for Ishmael Miller, who out maneuvered Fabricio Coloccini and then finished beautifully to make it a one goal deficit. West Brow continued to threaten with young Mr. Miller making the case to West Brom manager Tony Mowbray that he needs to be in the starting grid but the leveling goal was not to be and Newcastle took the important win.

Newcastle returns to pitch next Monday against Aston Villa.

Cagliari visits Stadio Luigi Ferraris

In a mid-week Serie A match Cagliari travels to Stadio Luigi Ferraris riding a three match unbeaten streak that includes successive victories against Torino and Chievo Verona. Within this streak Massimiliano Allegri has guided his club to a brilliant display of fundamental Football, notable for clinical marking and the absence of mental errors.

Federico Marchetti has been one of the great stories of Serie A as he has accepted the challenge as 'keeper and has kept his goal empty in the previous three matches. In front of this the duty of defending as been accepted admirably by the likes of Francesco Pisano, Diego López, Paolo Bianco, Andrea Cossu and Alessandro Agostini. They are most likely to come out later today in a 4-3-1-2 with the attacking duo of Jeda and the brilliant ex-Torino man Robert Acquafresca being served-up by Andrea Lazzari, who has shown brilliant maturity this campaign. Andrea Parola returns to the lineup but Andrea Cossu will miss to a suspension

Gian Piero Gasperini will face the match without Raffaele Palladino and Omar Milanetto to injury as well as Ivan Jurić who is in the sin-bin. With the injury situation and his continued commitment and high work-rate ex-Crvena Zvezda man Boško Janković will join the striking trident of Giuseppe Sculli and Diego Milito. With full knowledge of Cagliari's tactical efforts he is likely to employ the following lineup:

Sokratis Papastrathopoulos, Matteo Ferrari, Giuseppe Biava
Marco Rossi,Thiago Motta,Anthony Vanden Borre,Giandomenico Mesto/
Giuseppe Sculli ,Diego Milito, Boško Janković

I will report on the match as it concludes.

Rangers advance in League Cup

Rangers advanced to the semi-finals of the League Cup with an very easy 2-0 stroll against the Hamilton Accies at Ibrox. Embattled striker Kris Boyd continued his goal scoring spree as he netted the opening goal five minutes before the half-hour mark, off a Jean-Claude Darcheville pass. The Gers doubled the margin five minutes after the break when a Steven Davis cross was headed in by Kyle Lafferty.

Without a single effort on Allan McGregor, the Rangers collected a easy victory and advance to the next round.

The Rangers return to SPL action this Saturday against Inverness Caley Thistle.

Toulouse visits Parc des Princes

Following this Sunday's tremendous victory over l'OM, PSG has been working hard to stay grounded and immediately turn its direction towards Toulouse's visit to Parc des Princes. Alain Casanova's le Téfécé are a very high quality club that have made massive strides from last campaign where they perilously came close to relegation to Ligue 2. They play a very tight defensive style and are unlikely to provide unforced errors. Since settling-in to play after a poor start against Olympique Lyonnais they have continued to frustrate all attacks and will be patient looking for the counter. The are most likely to stack the midfield in a 4-5-1 and rely upon Jérémy Mathieu, André-Pierre Gignac and long-time Stade Rennais man, Étienne Didot in the attack. They will be without Mathieu Berson, who is suspended and Norwegian international Daniel Braaten and Paulo César are doubtful.

Paul Le Guen has a fully fit squad and has given no indication of lineup changes.

I will report on the match as it concludes.

City travels to Middlesbrough

After this weekends tremendous victory Mark Hughes Man City makes the short-trip to Middlesbrough.

The only omission from City's squad is Jô with Wales international Ched Evans and Richard Dunne expected to be healthy from injuries sustained against Stoke City.

Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate will likely be without Egyptian international Mido with Robert Huth and Justin Hoyte definitely out.

How much of Middlesbrough 8-1 thrashing of Man City remains to be seen but it certainly is fresh in minds of true City supporters.

I will report on the match as it concludes.

Leeds suffer a costly loss against Southend

The midweek match-up against Southend ended in disappointment as Leeds lost 1-0 with the lone goal off Dan Harding's free-kick eighteen minutes into the match. The loss sends Leeds to third-place, three points behind Scunthorpe and Millwall who are locked in a tie for first.

Southend played a brilliant fundamental scheme against Leeds before the break although their definitely wasn't the same bounce in Gary McAllister's squad. After the break Leeds produced a number of solid scoring chances and but were unable to finish. As with other losses this campaign, they fell into the bad habit of slowing to the oppositions base and being predictable.

Leeds returns to League One action on Saturday against Cheltenham

Leeds: Ankergren, Richardson, Michalik, Telfer, Parker, Kilkenny (Robinson 67), Howson, Douglas, Delph (Snodgrass 67), Beckford, Becchio.

Southend: Federici, Francis, Clarke, Barrett, Harding, Betsy, Christophe, Sawyer (Grant 81), Robson-Kanu, Revell (McCormack 83), Laurent (Scannell 76)

Bayer Leverkusen over Werder Bremen

The Green Whites will be pleased to see October end as the month was an absolute disaster. Coupled with the 2-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen, they were only able to earn two points in four matches and have crashed to tenth in the table.

Today's loss will not be any easier because of the clubs injury problems as they allowed two goals in the final nineteen minutes. In the attacking-end excluding Torsten Frings, Mesut Özil and Hugo Almeida's early chances the offense was lacking intensity and confidence without Diego and Claudio Pizarro and was more inclined to wait for a counter-attack. With nineteen minutes remaining a Patrick Helmes header was saved by Christian Vander but Arturo Vidal snapped-up the rebound and didn't hesitate making it 1-0. With ten minutes remaining Stefan Kießling's shot cracked off the post and came to Manuel Friedrich, who then drove the ball into the net and made it 2-0.

After the match Thomas Schaaf, in response to questions of championships:

"We must work now on playing better again."

With a tough match coming up this weekend against Hertha Berlin he added:

"My thoughts are absolutely directed toward the portion against Hertha BSC."

Schalke 04 dominates KSC

Die Königsblauen answered Fred Rutten's call to arms with a definitive 3-0 defeat of Karlsruher SC. The victory ends a twelve year winless streak at Wildparkstadion keeps Schalke four points behind Bayer Leverkusen (who coincidently maintained the Werder Bremen "new blogger curse").

Schalke came out looking like a completely different squad from the weekend and were motivated to impress from the start. Kevin Kurányi and Halil Altintop nearly scored within the first few minutes minute with KSC 'keeper Markus Miller doing everything he could to keep the net free of goals. However die Königsblauen broke through with Levan Kobiashvili's cross re-directed by Kevin Kurányi to Marcelo Bordon and into the goal fifteen minutes after the start. Four minutes later Kevin Kurányi re-directed Mladen Krstajić's perfect cross to make in 2-0. KSC didn't lay down and started to affirm better defending although they were not able to launch a significant attack. The match took at turn for the worse after the break when a altercation with Maik Franz got him an early shower and KSC was playing a man-down. With twenty-two minutes remaining Kevin Kurányi's to Jefferson Farfán was headed home for the third and final goal.

With the short week of preparation Schalke faces Energie Cottbus on Saturday.

Everton at Reebok Stadium

All of a sudden with Tottenham serving notice they are not going to be a pushover with Harry Redknapp in-charge and Newcastle ending its victory drought, the bottom of race is packed with seven clubs within two points. While no additional motivation was needed, it looks like the early season race is on.

Everton travels to Reebok Stadium to face Bolton, who are only a single point behind the Toffees. After squeezing by relegation last year they got off to a respectable start this year with four points in the opening three matches. However this situation has taken a turn for the worse recently as they have been held off the score-sheet the last three of four matches. Recent slumps aside Kevin Davies and Johan Elmander can be a very dangerous scoring combination and the only absentee from Gary Megson's lineup is Gavin McCann who is serving a suspension.

Everton welcomes back Timmy Cahill from his three-match suspension and David Moyes will immediately move him and Marouane Fellaini into the lineup.

Commenting on the Bolton match, David Moyes said:

"There’s never an easy game in the Premier League and never an easy game at Bolton. It is always a hard game and we know that’s what we get."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

summary of week 12 in Romania Liga 1

Week 12 of the Romanian Liga 1 concluded with few surprises but with Timişoara continuing to climb up the table.

Dinamo Bucureşti 1
Oţelul Galaţi 0
'Câinii Roşii opened the scoring with under-21 Tricolorii Gabriel Torje scoring on the hour. Galaţi had a great chance to win it with a penalty call late in the match but Zhivko Zhelev's effort wasn't up to the occasion and Dinamo had the victory.

Timişoara 2
CFR Cluj 1
The Alb-Violeţii benefited from Slovakian international Marián Čišovský two goals at twenty-seven and thirty-two minutes before for Didi brought one back for the defending champions. However they were unable to break through again and Timişoara's climb up the table continued.

Unirea Voluntari Urziceni 1
Farul Constanţa 0
Marius Onofraş scored at the half-hour mark to give Urziceni the victory.

Gaz Metan Mediaş 2
Universitatea Craiova 5
Romanian capped Florin Costea gave Craiova four minutes after the start with Michael Baird of the Australian contingency doubling the margin twenty-four minutes later. After a break a flurry of goals were scored starting eight minutes into the half as fellow 'Roo Joshua Rose made it 3-0 before Ovidiu Hoban drew one back for Mediaş a minutes later. Skipper Dorel Stoica made it 4-1 from the spot at the fifty-eighth minute with Joshua Rose adding the second of the day with seventeen minutes remaining. Mircea Voicu added a consolation goal three minutes into added time to bring the match to its final score.

Steaua Bucureşti 1
Gloria Buzau 1
The horrible string for the Roş-Albaştrii continued with a draw against bottom of the table Gloria Buzau. Tricolorii Bănel Nicoliţă scored five minutes after the break but Cătălin Vlaicu punished the lack-luster effort of Steaua Bucureşti leveling it eight minutes later. Agonizingly for the Roş-Albaştrii fans Bănel Nicoliţă was unable to convert from the spot as time expired.

Pandurii Târgu Jiu 1
FC Vaslui 0
The son of Tricolorii manager Victor Piţurcă, Alexandru, scored for Minerii with fifteen minutes remaining.

Argeş Piteşti 3
Politehnica Iaşi - 0
Youssouf Kamara opened the scoring for the Alb-Violeţii thirteen minutes after the start with nineteen year-old Cătălin Doman adding the second. Adrian Iordache added the third, deep into added time.

CS Otopeni 1
Rapid Bucureşti 2
Rapid Bucureşti came from behind for an important victory. Liviu Ganea opened the scoring eight minutes before the break to give Otopeni the lead. João Paulo Andrade leveled the match after the break before Juliano Spadacio gave Rapid the lead with twenty six minutes remaining.

CS Otopeni: Cristi Munteanu - Scarlatache, Nibombe, Diogo, C. Dumitrescu - Fl. Pârvu, V. Negru (77, O. Chihaia) - Chiacu (70, Predescu ), Jaime (67, Balauru ), Cr. Constantin - L. Ganea.

Rapid Bucureşti: Andrade - Maftei, R. Fernandes, J.P. Andrade, Mardare (88, Bozovici) - Lazăr, Adefemi, Spadacio - Herea (63, J. Cesar), Boya, Cesinha (90, N. Grigore)

Braşov 0
Gloria Bistriţa 0

Romania Liga 1 week 11
FC Dinamo Bucureşti 12
Unirea Voluntari Urziceni 12
FC Timişoara 12
FC Steaua Bucureşti 12
FC Argeş Piteşti 12
FC Universitatea Craiova 12
CFR Cluj 12
FC Rapid Bucureşti 12
F.C. Oţelul Galaţi 12
FC Braşov 12
FC Vaslui 12
CS Pandurii Târgu Jiu 12
F. C. Farul Constanţa 12
CS Gaz Metan Mediaş 12
FC Politehnica Iaşi 12
C.F. Gloria 1922 Bistriţa 12
CS Otopeni 12
Gloria Buzau 12

Russian internationals shine in Moscow showdown

The showdown between CSKA Moscow and Dynamo Moscow for second-place in the Rosgosstrakh Championship of Russia featured a bevy of players internationally capped for Russia.

Lead by Valery Gazzaev, CSKA Moscow put forth a brilliant effort in-route to a 3-1 victory over Dynamo Moscow.

Sergei Ignashevich with forty-five caps on his resume opened the scoring for Koni only seven minutes into the match pouncing on the rebound of his own penalty kick.

CSKA doubled it's lead thirteen minutes after the break with a eighteen year-old phenom Alan Dzagoev being the playmaker, linking up with Miloš Krasić before Vágner Love scoring.

Finally with ten minutes remaining Yuri Zhirkov, who has been rewarded with twenty-eight caps, scored off a perfect pass by Vágner Love to make it 3-0.

For all the details on this great match, please visit "CSKA Moscow defeats Dynamo Moscow 3-1"

if only it was snowing in Karlsruhe

Half a days drive south from Gelsenkirchen is one of French Alps best resorts, Courchevel and with die Königsblauen traveling to Karlsruher to face KSC, the match would have been a perfect stop in a road-trip. However it's not snowing so it looks like my quaint segue will go nowhere and I'll have to use it another time.

After a disheartening draw last weekend against Arminia Bielefeld manager Fred Rutten and is demanding results against Karlsruher SC today and Energie Cottbus this Saturday. KSC is in the midst of a three-match losing streak that started with a well-played loss to Bayern at the Wildparkstadion and followed up with away losses to Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Mönchengladbach who thankfully returned to the Bundesliga this year.

Over the last twelve years trips to Karlsruher, Schalke has been unable to produce a victory. While upset with the outcome of the last match, Fred Ruten is optimistic:

"The players are in excellent mental and physical shape. We're top fit. Though we were held to a 0-0 draw by Bielefeld around 44 hours after the final whistle of our UEFA Cup tie against PSG, that had nothing to do with our fitness. We just lacked a bit of luck."

Heiko Westermann will return for die Königsblauen but with the exception of Christian Pander and of-course Gustavo Varela and Carlos Grossmüller relegated to the reserves the full squad is available. The only deletion of KSC's lineup is Michael Mutzel.

Green-Whites face huge test against Bayer Leverkusen

Chewing and spitting out their Bundesliga competition, Bayer Leverkusen visits Bremen today in a mid-week match-up. Following the recent disappointing performances the Green-Whites need to summon up their best as Leverkusen is playing an without fear. This past week in the Köln - Düsseldorf derby they dispatched FC Köln 2-0 and a victory at the Weserstadion would raise them to first in the Bundesliga.

Bayer Leverkusen has shown to be the most balanced team in the Bundesliga and Bruno Labbadia is a tactician who after the Köln victory reaffirmed this commitment:

"The win was very significant from my point of view because we played intelligently, kept our shape and won the trial of strengths."

Adding to this, he is confident of victory:

“We are Bayer Leverkusen. We can expect to want to win even against a top side like Bremen. We’ll have to be on our toes though as Bremen have a lot of talented players in their side.”

Renato Augusto and Swiss international Tranquillo Barnetta are questionable to return for the Werkself.

"Intelligent" is what should be stressed as to produce against Leverkusen you must "create" as they are unlikely to commit unforced errors. Green-White manager Thomas Schaaf has not been impressed with play this month which has seen them earn only two points in three matches. Following the victories over TSG Hoffenheim and München, they fell considerably in the table and now face critical matches against Bayer Leverkusen today and Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

However the situation for Bremen is not getting easier as Clemens Fritz adds his name to injury list that now includes Diego, Martin Harnik, Daniel Jensen, Peter Niemeyer Claudio Pizarro and Tim Wiese. Per Mertesacker returns from suspension and his leadership will be needed. Markus Rosenberg will need to produce for the Green-Whites and Mesut Özil must capitalize on scoring chances.

Marching on Together: Leeds travels to Southend

Leeds travels to Southend sitting second in the League One table, three points behind Scunthorpe. With the singular goal of earning promotion to the Championship League, each match is crucial and with Scunthorpe facing a tough Oldham, a victory could find Leeds at the top of the table. Southend is quite a capable club and after coming off a tough loss to the Bristol Rovers will be looking to impress their loyal supporters. Equally it should be noted that they are a tough at home, having built Roots Hall into somewhat of fortress, for which Leeds fell last year 1-0. However if Gary McAllister is to lead Leeds to promotion this type of match is a "must-win."

The only absence of Leeds is Alan Sheehan whilst the only guaranteed omission from the lineup is none other than Dougie Freedman, who served Leeds so brilliantly last year. Southend sniper Lee Barnard is expected to return along with Dan Harding who returns from suspension.

I report on the match once it concludes but until then we're Marching on Together.

Rangers face Hamilton Accies in League Cup

After defeating Hamilton in league action 3-1 this Saturday, the Accies have a chance for pay-back as they head to Ibrox in the Scottish League Cup later today.

Maurice Edu is expect to take the place of Kevin Thomson who is doubtful with an ankle problem whilst the skipper Barry Ferguson will be held back till the weekend. The Accies will be without Mark McLaughlin to injury, with Martin Canning and Simon Mensing who is in the sin-bin.

In facing the Gers at Ibrox, Accie boss Billy Reid noted:

"We'll look forward to going to Ibrox for the first occasion for many a year and meet the challenge head on."

I will report on the match as it concludes.

West Brom visits St James' Park

Following Saturday's historic loss to Sunderland, Newcastle welcomes West Brom to St James' Park. The Magpie's sit second from the table bottom with five points and are in desperate need of their second win of the campaign. Tony Mowbray's West Brom have made a strong return to the Premier League, sitting mid-table but will be looking to reverse the trend of their last two matches which have seen them out-scored seven to none.

Newcastle will be without Michael Owen and Nicky Butt for the match with Filipe Teixeira, Abdoulaye Meite and Kim Do-Heon out for West Brom.

I will report on the match as it concludes.

Borussia Mönchengladbach comes to Volkswagen

Less than forty-eight hours after facing Bayern München, Wolfsburg welcomes Borussia Mönchengladbach. After being promoted from the second division of the Bundesliga Hans Meyer's club they sit second from the table bottom but have shown recent improvement and are unbeaten in their last two matches. After retuning from the international break they fought VfL Bochum to a tough 2-2 draw and this Saturday they won their second match of the year, defeating Karlsruher SC 1-0.

Wolfsburg manager Felix Magath notes a fully fit sqaud while die Fohlen will be without Sebastian Schachten, Steve Gohouri and Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker.

I will report on the match as it concludes.

injury report for ADO Den Haag

PSV faces ADO Den Haag in a mid-week match-up later today that defies all scheduling logic and quite obviously there is little that either club can do in preparation or rejuvenation from the prior match. In his pre-match press conference Hubb Stevens noted that for the match in The Hague, Nordin Amrabat, Ibrahim Afellay, Jan Kromkamp are doubtful and Jérémie Bréchet will be out for a number of weeks.

CSKA Moscow defeats Dynamo Moscow 3-1

The heavyweight battle between CSKA Moscow and Dynamo Moscow with a sure Champions League bid on the line produced a stunning performance by Koni resulting in the 3-1 victory. The victory extends their unbeaten streak to twelve matches, stretching back to July when manager Valery Gazzaev had announced he would step-down after the season and gives them a firm six point lead on second-place with four matches to go.

The match started with quick as both clubs were playing with heart. Six minutes after the opening a touch challenge on Vágner Love earns a penalty. Russian capped Sergei Ignashevich steps up to take the kick and thunders a rock that strikes national teammate Igor Semshov but the rebound returns towards Sergei who crisply angles the ball into the back of the net. With tough mid-field the play neither club can breakthrough and the match goes to the break with Koni maintaining their one goal advantage.

CSKA doubles the lead thirteen minutes after the break with a brilliant flanking run between the eighteen year-old phenom Alan Dzagoev and Miloš Krasić. Coming down the right channel, defenders are draw-out only to have the eased ball back to center with Vágner Love crashing to the back-post. With defenders now converging on the ball, a perfectly weighted ball find Vágner, who makes no mistake giving CSKA the 2-0 advantage.

With ten minutes remaining, heroics are in-store for another Russian international as
Yuri Zhirkov receives a perfect pass by Vágner Love and neatly puts the ball behind Dynamo 'keeper Zhidrunas Karchemarskas. Dynamo added a consolation goal to spoil Igor Akinfeev's clean sheet as Austrailian Luke Wilkshire scores with three minutes remaining but CSKA Moscow comes away with a great 3-1 victory.

CSKA Moscow
Igor Akinfeev,Sergei Ignashevich,Deividas Semberas,Alexei Berezutsky,Vasili Berezutsky,Anton Grigoriev (Pavel Mamaev 66'),Eugeni Aldonin,Miloš Krasić,Yuri Zhirkov (Caner Erkin 83'),Alan Dzagoev (Elvir Rahimic 72'),Vágner Love

Dynamo Moscow
Zhidrunas Karchemarskas,Leandro Fernandez,Marcin Kowalcyzk,Luke Wilkshire,Dmitri Khokhlov,Igor Semshov,Dmitri Kombarov,Kirill Kombarov,Andrei Karpovich (Tsvetan Genkov 64'),Alexander Kerzhakov,Aleksandr Kokorin

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ukrainian Premier League week 12 summary

It seems almost impossible but after week twelve match, the table remained with each team in precisely the same position as it started. However the class the league is definitely Dynamo Kyiv as it defeated Tavriya Simferopol 3-1 on the work of Ukraine's great young striker Artem Milevskiy.

While of course it is remarkable that the tables were left the same it is due to something not-so "exciting" as with the exception of one match all were draws with four scoreless. That must be some sort of record however in the "other" decision of the weekend Metalist Kharkiv defeated Metalurh Donetsk 2-0. Zhovto-Syni left the scoring till the final four minutes of time with Serbian international Aleksandar Trišović (Тришович) being the benificiary of a defensive mishap as he pulled in a long ball near the box and quickly scored. Two minutes later a beautiful crossing pass Andriy Koniushenko found on the back post for a clinical finish.

Possibly the biggest piece of news is that Shakhtar Donetsk, after a horribly lethargic 0-0 draw to Kharkiv is said to have offered a managerial position to Juande Ramos, recently let-go by Tottenham of England's Premier League.

Elsewhere in the Ukrainian Premier League Chornomorets played Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk to a 1-1 draw with international capped veteran scoring. Andriy Vorobei opened the scoring at the seven minute mark for Dnipriany before Oleksandr Kosyrin tied it seven minutes later.

Kryvbas - 0
Illichivets - 0

Arsenal Kyiv - 0
Vorskla Poltava - 0

Karpaty - 0
Metalurh Zaporizhya - 0

Zorya Luhansk - 1
Lviv - 1

Ukrainian Premier League
Dynamo Kyiv 12101131631
Metalurh Donetsk 1282217726
Metalist Kharkiv 1273220924
Vorskla Poltava 1255213920
Metalurh Zaporizhya 1255211820
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 1245310917
Zorya Luhansk 12453131617
Shakhtar Donetsk 12372161117
Chornomorets Odessa 12426131514
Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih 12354121614
Karpaty Lviv 1226481112
Arsenal Kyiv 1225581411
Illichivets 1231871810
Lviv 122375139
Tavriya Simferopol 1214711237
Kharkiv 120757177

Blue Samurai lead the way in the J-League

Blue Samurai dominated play in the J-League this week:

Júbilo Iwata held Nagoya Grampus Eight to a surprising scoreless draw with Nippon Daihyo tandem of Yūichi Komano 駒野 友 and ‘keeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi 川口 能活 lead Júbilo.

Shinzo Koroki 興梠 慎三 scored for the Kashima Antlers in their 3-2 loss to FC Tokyo.

Shimizu S-Pulse soundly beat Gamba Osaka 3 - 1. Twenty-two year-old Shinji Okazaki 岡崎 慎司 scored on the hour mark to make it 3-0 for S-Pa

Yoshito Okubo 大久保嘉人 scored the lone goal of the match to lead Vissel Kobe to a 1-0 victory over Oita Trinita.

In Kawasaki Frontale's 3-1 victory over Consadole Sapporo, Kengo Nakamura 中村 憲剛 opened the scoring after twenty minutes

Hajime Hosogai 細貝 萌 of the Olympic team for with ten minutes remaining to give the Urawa Red Diamonds a 1-0 victory over Albirex Niigata.

Make sure you visit the full wrap-up of week 30 of the J-League

J-League week 30 summary

It appears that the J-League championship race is going to go down to the final week with four matches to go there are seven clubs within six points. Fulfilling the promise that we would see a number of surprises FC Tokyo snatched victory from table leaders Kashima Antlers 3-2 in a shocking defeat. After a scoreless first half the Gas Men took the lead in front of over 33,000 at Ajinomoto with Cabore's effort eleven minutes after the break. Only three minutes later Nippon Daihyo 日本代表 Shinzo Koroki drew the match level for the Kashima Antlers. However Yuto Nagatomo and Yohei Otake gave FC Tokyo the commanding 3-1 lead scoring at seventy-seventh and eighty-first minute. Late attacking substitutes for Kashima, Blue Samurai Yūzō Tashiro and Chikashi Masuda pushed forward for the Antlers but they could not break through. The defeat was very costly for the Antlers as it allows to table to creep up towards them.

After the match Gas Man manager Hiroshi Jofuku commented:

"We lost two games in a row and we almost lost the intention to remain among the top teams, but we came into the game with a strong intention not to give up. We scored three goals against such a strong team like Kashima. It give us strong motivation to do well further after beating the champions."

Shocking result number two saw relegation threatened Júbilo Iwata hold Nagoya Grampus Eight to a surprising scoreless draw. Packing the midfield in a 3-5-2 that included Japan international Yūichi Komano, Júbilo frustrated Grampus to no-end with great veteran 'keeper and fellow Blue Samurai Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi once again rising to the occasion.

While not a shocking decision, with a chance to climb right back in the race and after a glorious victory in semi-finals of the AFC Champions League Shimizu S-Pulse soundly beat Gamba Osaka 3 - 1. Gamba Manager Akira Nishino went into the match without Yasuhito Endo and the attack sputtered to a halt. S-Pa academy product Takuma Edamura opened the scoring seven minutes before the break and quickly doubled the margin two minutes after. Twenty-two year-old Nippon Daihyo Shinji Okazaki delivered the knockout punch only three minutes later to make it 3-0, effectively ending the match with Roni adding a consolation goal for Gamba with fifteen minutes remaining.

Vissel Kobe after defeating the Red Diamonds last week, added Oita Trinita to their victims defeating them 1-0 and once again a member of Takeshi Okada's squad orchestrated the result, this time with Yoshito Okubo scoring the lone goal of the match with eleven minutes remaining. The loss is costly for Ōita as a victory would have seem them rise to the top of the table.

Kawasaki Frontale predictably dealt with Consadole Sapporo in a 3- 1 victory and stand only two points from the top. Kengo Nakumura opened the scoring after twenty minutes and Hiroyuki Taniguchi doubled it eight minutes later. Sapporo would not give in though and Davi drew one back with eighteen minutes remaining. Searching for the equalizer, Juninho capitalized on good fortune to make it 3-1 for Frontale.

Urawa Red Diamonds rebounded from their disappointing loss in the semi-finals of the AFC Champions league to defeat Albirex Niigata 1-0. Hajime Hosogai returned from suspension in front of 40,000 at the Big Swan, he gave the Red Diamonds the victory scoring with ten minutes remaining.

Elsewhere in the J-League:

Yokohama F. Marinos - 3
Kashiwa Reysol - 1

Kyoto Purple Sanga - 0
Tokyo Verdy 1969 - 0

Omiya Ardija - 2
JEF United Ichihara-Chiba - 1

J-League week 28GPWDLGSGAP
Kashima Antlers 鹿島アントラーズ 30 15 8 7 53 30 53
Nagoya Grampus 名古屋グランパス 30 15 7 8 41 30 52
Kawasaki Frontale 川崎フロンターレ 30 15 6 9 54 40 51
Oita Trinita 大分トリニータ 30 15 6 9 31 23 51
Urawa Red Diamonds 浦和レッズ 30 14 8 8 46 32 50
FC Tokyo FC東京 30 14 6 10 43 40 48
Gamba Osaka ガンバ大阪 30 13 8 9 42 39 47
Shimizu S-Pulse 清水エスパルス 30 13 7 10 42 37 46
Vissel Kobe ヴィッセル神戸 30 11 10 9 36 31 43
Yokohama F Marinos 横浜F・マリノス 30 10 9 11 31 28 39
Kashiwa Reysol 柏レイソル 30 11 6 13 41 39 39
Kyoto Purple Sanga 京都サンガF.C. 30 10 7 13 30 38 37
Albirex Niigata アルビレックス新潟 30 10 7 13 27 41 37
Tokyo Verdy 1969 東京ヴェルディ 30 10 6 14 37 43 36
Omiya Ardija 大宮アルディージャ 30 10 5 15 30 41 35
JEF United Ichihara-Chiba ジェフユナイテッド千葉 30 9 7 14 30 45 34
Jubilo Iwata ジュビロ磐田 30 9 6 15 36 43 33
Consadole Sapporo コンサドーレ札幌 30 4 5 21 33 63 17