Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Goals fly in as ‘Serie A’ is back with a bang

Posted in European Football by peterbein on January 7, 2010
Marco Borriello

Marco Borriello scored twice in a 5-2 rout of former club Genoa

Thirty-three goals were scored in nine games upon the resumption of Italy’s Serie A yesterday. The big three of Inter, AC Milan and Juventus all secured three points as they tightened their grip on the top three places in the table. Napoli overtook southern neighbours AS Roma into fourth place whilst at the bottom of the table Siena were heavily defeated and relegation threatened Bologna and Atalanta fared no better.

Champions Inter (42 points from 18 games) got the ball rolling with an early kick-off away in Verona against mid-table Chievo. An early goal from Mario Balotelli was enough to seperate the sides as Inter temporarily increased their lead at the top to eleven points before the day’s other games began. Juventus (33 points, 18 games) kept up the chase as they scrapped to a 2-1 win away at Parma. The ‘Old Lady’ took the lead after just three minutes through a Hasan Salihamidzic header but Parma equalised mid-way through the first half courtesy of a Juve old boy Nicola Amoruso. Parma were unfortunate to concede an own goal though six minutes before the break as Paolo Castellini put through his own net. Juventus held on to the lead during the second half despite having Martin Cáceres sent off for a second bookable offence on 73 minutes. In the late kick-off at the San Siro stadium AC Milan’s Marco Borriello (pictured) overshadowed the returning David Beckham by scoring twice in a 5-2 win against his former club Genoa. Things initially seemed to go against the ‘Rossoneri’ (red and blacks) as an early Ronaldinho penalty save was compounded further by Giuseppe Sculli giving Genoa the lead after 25 minutes. Despite the early setbacks Milan (34 points, 17 games) upped the pace and were rewarded by Ronaldinho tucking away a second penalty followed by a Thiago Silva strike to give Milan a 2-1 lead at the break. The game was over as a contest eary in the second half as Borriello scored his two goals before the hour mark and his replacement as substitute Klass-Jan Huntelaar converted the game’s third penalty before David Suazo scored a consolation strike late on for Genoa reducing the arrears to 5-2.

In the rest of the league Napoli climbed up to fourth in the table as they beat struggling Atalanta 2-0 thanks to goals from Fabio Quagliarella and Michele Pazienza. Alberto Gilardino scored twice as AC Fiorentina crushed bottom side Siena (12 points from 18 games) 5-1 in the Tuscan derby. Sergio Flocaari also bagged a brace as Lazio easily overcame Livorno 4-1 while their local rivals AS Roma let slip a 2-0 lead in stoppage time as Lopez and Daniele Conti scored the goals that gave Cagliari a 2-2 draw and an unlikely point. Catania beat Bologna 1-0 thanks to a late Nicolas Spolli goal which now has Bologna looking over their shoulder at Catania who are just a point behind them in 18th place. Bari beat Udinese 2-0 while Sampdoria and Palermo shared the spoils after a 1-1 draw in Genoa.

Champions League – Group Stage Round-Up: Part Two

Posted in European Football by peterbein on December 10, 2009
Fiorentina v Liverpool

Gamberini (left) competes with Liverpool's Fernando Torres in Fiorentina's 2-0 win on Matchday 2

In the second half of our look at the Champions League group stage “Stoppage Time” focuses on groups E-H:

GROUP E (OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS, FIORENTINA, LIVERPOOL FC, DEBRECENI)

The biggest disappointment in this year’s competition, without any doubt, was five-time European champions Liverpool. After the opening group match against Hungarian champions Debreceni the Reds were caught short against group rivals Lyon and Fiorentina. Too many mistakes at crucial times proved Liverpool’s undoing and this was emphasized in the last minute of Matchday 6 where Alberto Gilardino was able to capitalize on a defensive error to give Fiorentina the three points needed to top the group. Lyon were impressive throughout especially in their games against Debreceni, against whom they scored eight goals without reply in two matches. Fiorentina finished top on fifteen points, two more than Lyon, whilst Liverpool have to be content with a Europa League place finishing on a dismal seven points in a group they were widely expected to qualify from. Debreceni’s maiden Champions League finished, as expected, in last place but no doubt their team would’ve enjoyed the experience.

GROUP F (FC BARCELONA, INTERNAZIONALE, RUBIN KAZAN, DYNAMO KYIV)

This was the most open group in the Champions League. All four teams harboured hopes of qualification to the Round of 16 prior to Matchday 6. In the end the big boys, FC Barcelona and Internazionale, managed to qualify but they were made to work hard for their place. Jose Mourinho’s Inter had the upper hand in their final game at home against Russian champions Rubin Kazan thanks to goals from Samuel Eto’o and Mario Balotelli whilst European champions FC Barcelona had to come from behind to beat Dynamo Kyiv in Ukraine 2-1. Goals from Xavi and Lionel Messi were sufficient for the Catalans to finish top of the group, two points clear of Inter. Rubin Kazan’s first season in the Champions League provided much drama, the 2-1 win against Barcelona in the Camp Nou was one of the highlights of the tournament so far. However they just didn’t have enough killer instinct to put the group to bed but at least they can be content with a Europa League place. For Andriy Shevchenko and his Dynamo side it’s another disappointing exit from a European campaign but they should be back next year barring a dismal second half to the domestic season in Ukraine.

GROUP G (SEVILLA CF, VfB STUTTGART, UNIREA URZICENI, GLASGOW RANGERS)

Sevilla were the clear winners of the group remaining undefeated through the campaign. Their 4-1 win over Rangers at Ibrox Park on Matchday 2 was their most convincing of the tournament thus far. The chase for second became a Matchday 6 “cup final” between VfB Stuttgart (who fired coach Markus Babbel and replaced him with Christian Gross in the weekend prior to the game) and Unirea Urziceni (coached by Chelsea legend Dan Petrescu). The German side started like a train and were 3-0 up inside eleven minutes. Despite Unirea pulling a goal back early in the second half the Germans managed to preserve their lead and the three points allowed them to overtake the Romanians into second place. Unirea go into the Europa League whilst Glasgow Rangers must swallow their pride and be hopeful that they can be back next season.

GROUP H (ARSENAL, OLYMPIAKOS, STANDARD LIEGE, AZ ALKMAAR)

Arsenal were comfortably the best team in the group and had already qualified for the Round of 16 when they went to Greece to play Olympiakos on Matchday 6. They played a young team with an average age of 21 but Arsene Wenger’s men couldn’t maintain their unbeaten record in Athens going down 1-0. Zico’s Olympiakos finished second thanks to some good results earlier in the tournament against Standard Liege and AZ Alkmaar. The third and fourth placed teams came up with some drama of their own on Matchday 6 in Belgium. Dutch champions AZ took the lead in the first half through Jeremain Lens and they held on to their advantage until five minutes into stoppage time. A free-kick was whipped in at pace and among the crowd of players in the penalty box was Standard’s goalkeeper Sinan Bolat who headed home to gain the ‘Liegeois’ a precious point and a place in the Europa League.