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Live - Uefa Cup

Thursday, 16 April 2009




UEFA CUP FIRST ROUND RESULTS:

AS Nancy 1-0 Motherwell Match report
Everton 2-2 Standard Liege Match report
Litex Lovech 1-3 Aston Villa Match report
Omonia Nicosia 1-2 Man City Match report
Portsmouth 2-0 Guimaraes Match report
Tottenham 2-1 Wisla Krakow Match report

GOALFLASHES AND MAJOR INCIDENTS (all times BST)

606: DEBATE
To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111. (Not all contributions can be used)

By Paul Fletcher

2210: "Jog on, Fletch"
gomesthegoal on 606
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Is that an insult? Not sure. Any road, it brings to a close the live text for today's Uefa Cup coverage. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have and will return on Saturday for some more fun footy action. Crazy times these, aren't they?

2204: "A win is a win is a win. We'll take it gladly thanks very much. First one of the season."
bigtel60 on 606
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Hmm, tumbling expectations at White Hart Lane already eh?

2159: Full-time Tottenham 2-1 Wisla Krakow
Advantage Tottenham, though they made heavy weather of it at times. Indeed, looking at the form of the British teams during a busy day of Uefa Cup action I would have to say that the finishing could have been better.

2157: Full-time Everton 2-2 Standard Liege
No goals after the break at Goodison, which is disappointing. But an amazing first half and surely an entertaining second leg lies in store. Liege has shown once again that they have a lot about them.

2155: A massive penalty shout for Liege as Wilfried Dalmat goes down under a challenge by Joleon Lescott. Everton are perhaps fortunate not to have been penalised.

2154: Everton boss David Moyes is sat in his seat in the dug-out with his legs crossed. He is brooding, like Al Pacino at the end of Godfather II. he does not look overly pleased.

2152: A devastating through ball sends a Wisla player through on goal but Woodgate makes a brilliant covering tackle. Had that been mistimed it would have been penalty time and no doubt.

2150: Liege make a change at Goodison. Their fans look pretty happy. And why wouldn't they be?

Fraizer Campbell is offside and shoots wide. Two excellent reasons why he did not just score for Tottenham.

2148: OK, about 10 minutes left at Everton, slightly more at Spurs. Goals please.

2146: A comfortable looking win for Sevilla, who beat Red Bull Salzburg 2-0 in the end thanks to Claro Adriano Correia's last-minute goal. Elsewhere, Sampdoria flatten Rangers' conquerors Kaunas 5-0. And it is not so good for Steve McClaren's FC Twente who lose 2-1 away at Rennes. Still in the tie though, Steve. Still in the tie. For shhuuuure.

2145: The ball is delivered by Arteta and Vaughan has a great chance to head Everton in front but he cannot keep his effort on target.

2142: James Vaughan is fouled on the edge of the Liege area. Arteta's subsequent free-kick hits the wall, much to the frustration of the Everton faithful.

Meanwhile, at White Hart Lane a left-foot strike from Gareth Bale is well saved.

2139: GOAL Tottenham 2-1 Wisla Krakow
Fraizer Campbell delivers a superb cross that Darren Bent converts with a header from the edge of the six-yard box. Was Bent all over a Wisla defender as he climbed to head the ball? Irrelevant, the goal stands.

2137: Darren Bent is inches away from connecting with a teasing cross. Spurs have made another change - Giovani off and Benoit Assou-Ekotto on.

2135: Darren Bent shoots towards goal for Tottenham but his effort is deflected out for a corner.

2133: More men behind the ball at both Goodison and White Hart Lane, which is perhaps impacting on entertainment levels and goals. That said, Everton put together a sweet move, during the construction of which the merry whistleblower (credit - Mike Stephenson) is knocked to the floor.

2130: "Every time I see Lennon play I wonder what Spurs are doing wrong with him. The lad has got buckets of pace."
ElSquirrel on 606
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Is he happy at Spurs? Does he have an attitude problem? Is he being played out of position?

2128: James Vaughan into the action at Goodison. Something irritates David Moyes, who throws his arms in the air.

2126: Anichebe is stretchered off. I hate to be so vague but he clearly has some kind of injury to the lower part of his right foot.

2125: Victor Anichebe goes down after challenging with Dante for the ball. The Everton striker looks to be in a lot of pain.

2123: Fraizer Campbell comes on for Spurs. Last season he was playing for Hull, helping them win promotion to the Premier League. Jamie O'Hara is also into the action. Chris Gunter and Aaron Lennon make way.

2122: Tottenham striker Darren Bent sticks the ball in the net from six yards but the goal is ruled out for offside. A harsh decision.

2121: Kaunas knocked out Rangers in Champions League qualifying. They are currently losing 4-0 to Sampdoria.

2119: Giovani bursts inside the Wisla box, but his cross fails to find a white-shirted team-mate, much to the frustration of the home fans, whose will to live is slowly being zapped by the minute.

2115: Everton appeal for a penalty after Victor Anichebe and Oguchi Onyewu tangle legs. Anichebe was running away from goal when contact occurred. Nothing doing.

AC Milan winning 3-0. Fernando Morientes has just netted for Valencia, who are winning 1-0 against Maritimo.

2113: Arteta narrowly misses with a well-taken free-kick. I think there could well be more goals at Goodison.

2112: The match resumes at Tottenham.

2110: Back under way at Goodison Park. How long before the game opens up once more? Or will it be a touch cagey after some half-time reorganisation?

2109: "I'm an Everton fan, stuck on holiday with the family in Brittany, playing scrabble without a TV or radio in sight. I can't believe I'm missing this game!"
Matty G via text on 81111

Sorry Matty, you're missing one of the best European games I have seen in a long time.

2105: "Isn't Segundo Castillo Spanish for second castle? And I'm not joking either, I really think it is..."
jimboclarke on 606
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Incredible, I had that self same conversation not two minutes ago.

2103: PLAYER RATER
Low scores for the Everton men over on Player Rater. A round 7.00 for Mikel Arteta is as good as it gets, with the likes of Tim Howard (4.17), Phil Neville (4.29) and Joseph Yobo (3.71) hunting for scraps. Meanwhile, at Spurs, Darren Bent's currently got 8.85. With respect - you what?
Hero or zero?

2101: "What is with this new fad of swapping shirts at half time? Just noticed two players doing it in the Everton game. Fear of substitution?"
Simes, Middlesbrough, via text on 81111

I believe it was Dante and Castillo. I have absolutely no idea why they did that. Strange.

2100: AC Milan are winning 2-0. Pato on the mark. A lot of people seem to think they are nailed on. I'm not so sure.

2057: Half-time Tottenham 1-1 Wisla Krakow
Plenty for the Tottenham management staff to think about. Juan-day they'll get it right. (sorry).

2057: The Spurs backline is about as solid as the US money market right now, Heurelho Gomes makes a full-length dive to his left to prevent Argentine Mauro Cantoro from putting the Poles in front. Pranav Soneji, who is writing the match report, fed me that line.

2055: Seeing as we've inadvertently turned into some sort of Bellinzona v Galatasaray information service, it seems only fair to say that the home side equalised in the final minute - only for Cassio Lincoln to net in injury time to give the Turkish side a 4-3 win. What a match, to be fair.

2054: Half-time Everton 2-2 Standard Liege
A cracking, energetic and thrilling half of football draws to a close at Goodison. My fingers rejoice, sort of.

2053: "Come on Paul, cant you touch type? I've got to find some way of taking my mind off the 1,000 word English essay due in tomorrow, I'm counting on you now!"
Dan via text on 81111

I have been battered on 606 and the text for not being able to describe four goals in about two minutes. Harsh, I feel. Spurs led for 67 seconds.

2051: Liege on the attack - they really do look like a decent side. Igor De Camargo almost makes it three for his side with a very cheeky and inventive backheel that Tim Howard saves.

2048: The Premier League is proving to be a fine training ground for Galatasaray strikers. Milan Baros has scored again - his second - and they're 3-2 up.

2047: Help, I cannot type fast enough.

2047: GOAL Everton 2-2 Standard Liege
Everton debutant Segundo Castillo unleashes a 25-yard thunderbolt which Liege keeper Rorys Aragon Espinoza gets a hand to but cannot stop going in. It's 2-2 and a great game.

2046: GOAL Tottenham 1-1 Wisla Krakow
Just when Juande Ramos was about to loosen his tie a notch, up pops Czech striker Tomas Jirsak to dink the ball past Heurelho Gomes with a sumptuous chip, courtesy of some fine work by Pawel Brozek. Silence at White Hart Lane. You can hardly blame the fans.

2044: GOAL Tottenham 1-0 Wisla Krakow
Geovani breaks from the centre spot and releases Aaron Lennon, in an unaccustomed left-flank role this evening. The winger's cross finds David Bentley, whose left-footed finish beats the sprawling Pawalek.

2043: Darren Bent latches on to a through ball from Chris Gunter courtesy of an embarrassing slip by centre-back Kleber, but keeper Mariusz Pawelek thwarts the striker's goal ambitions by charging out and averting the danger - taking a boot to the face in the process.

2042: GOAL Everton 1-2 Standard Liege
Marcos Camozzato drills a low cross into the Everton box from the right and Joseph Yobo stabs the ball into his own net at full stretch. Everton are making this hard work for themselves.

2039: Liege on the attack once again. They look so mobile going forward. And with Dante in the side they cannot be short of comedy at half-time. Surely.

2036: A quick word on AC Milan. Marek Jankulovski has given them the lead against FC Zurich.

2035: Jonathan Woodgate's far post header from David Bentley is just about saved by Mariusz Pawe?ek. The long-haired centre-back couldn't quite get sufficient purchase to beat the Polish keeper.

2031: The atmosphere has cranked up a notch or two. Mikel Arteta tries his luck from distance but his effort lacks power and is comfortably saved.

2030: Pretty football at times from Spurs, but the final pass is severely lacking, with Geovani not doing himself any favours at the byeline. The first decent cross in to the Wisla box from Gareth Bale is cleared with Darren Bent sniffing for an opening.

2030: GOAL Everton 1-1 Standard Liege
Back on terms. A real striker's instinct from Yakubu who sidefoots home from close range after Leon Osman puts the ball into the box.

2026: Should be 2-0 at Goodison Park. Milan Jovanovic has what appears to be a simple sidefoot home as the Toffees are once again ripped open. But the ball hits his team-mate Igor De Camargo and goes wide, much to the visitors' horror.

2025: "The last thing Everton wanted to do was to give Liege a reason to build confidence as we know how dangerous they can be. Actually make that the second last thing, obviously conceding would be the last."
Anonymous via text on 81111

Excellent correcting of yourself there. Although you might have wanted to think it through before you started to text.

2022: Decent chance for Everton. Tim Cahill connects with Mikel Arteta's cross from left, but the Australian cannot direct his header and it loops over.

2021: "Some player that Graeme Smith, Fletch. If he is not scoring hundreds at Lord's he is saving penalties for Motherwell. Go on my son..."
Anonymous via text on 81111

2020: A lively start in north London, but no breakthrough as yet. But the Polish side look willing to attack.

2017: GOAL Everton 0-1 Standard Liege
Disastrous start for the Toffees. Wilfried Dalmat races down the right hand side and beats Joleon Lescott to the ball to fire in a fantastic low cross which Deiudonne Mbokani hits home.

2015: Galatasaray is the place for former Premier League stalwarts finding the net. Now ex-Villa, Portsmouth and Liverpool man Milan Baros has joined Harry Kewell in notching. They're 2-2 against Bellinzona by the way.

2013: Everton's Victor Anichebe has his head in his hands. He gets a shooting opportunity inside the box, but it goes just wide and brushes the side netting.

2010: And it is game on at White Hart Lane.

2010: Not a great start for Liege defender Marcos Camozzato. He's yellow-carded for a foul.

2008: A few minutes late, but we're under way at Goodison Park.

2007: Hold on to your hats, here's that Danny the Stat again...

PLAYER RATER
One of the higher scores we've ever seen on Player Rater goes to Motherwell keeper Graeme Smith - but boy was it deserved. The super stopper has notched a 10-bothering 9.71 for his penalty save (among several others). Robinho is Man City's top man with 7.95 and Lassana Diarra has the honours for Pompey with 8.35. But Smith is the king. The king.
Rate the players

2003: Red Star Salzburg? What was I talking about. I must have been over heating. Sevilla are, of course, leading Red Bull Salzburg. Crazy scenes.

1957: Sevilla are leading 1-0 against Red Bull Salzburg. Why am I telling you this? Someone asked if we could keep across the score and we do like to oblige when possible.

1954: Full-time Omonia Nicosia 1-2 Man City
A rollercoaster night for City in Cyprus, carving out chance after chance but spurning them all before falling behind. Jo then finally found his range and turned defeat into victory.

1951: Full-time Portsmouth 2-0 Guimaraes
A successful first European night for Pompey but I wouldn't say this tie is done and dusted. The Portuguese side showed they have a bit about them and will be looking to make the most of home advantage next time out.

1950: Full-time Nancy 1-0 Motherwell
The Steelmen have some work to do in the return leg but it could have been a lot worse had it not been for the heroics of keeper Graeme Smith.

1948: TEAM NEWS Tottenham make five changes from the side that lost 2-1 to Aston Villa on Monday - three of them enforced. New signings Vedran Corluka and Roman Pavlyuchenko are both cup-tied, while Luka Modric is ruled out with a knee injury.

In come Ledley King and Chris Gunter in defence, Jermaine Jenas replaces Tom Huddlestone in the centre of midfield while David Bentley slots in on the right flank. Giovanni Dos Santos will provide support for Darren Bent up front.

1945: A name familiar and respected by all has found the net. Harry Kewell has notched for Galatasaray, who are now locked at 1-1 with Bellinzona.

1944: Five minutes left in north-east France and Motherwell don't particularly look like finding a way through. 1-0 defeat away from home? It's not game over, but it's not a great result. They'll rue that lack of away goal.

1942: "They might as well engrave Pompey's name on the cup. Keep it on the island!"
Andy, Sienna, via text on 81111

Name on the cup - are you sure?

1940: "Fletch. Are you on commission for using the word "cracking" tonight?"
Anonymous via text on 81111

No. Hadn't noticed that I was making such cracking use of a cracking word on what is turning out to be a cracking night's football in what I think is a cracking competition. I'll tone it down from now on though.

1936: Jermain Defoe crosses the ball across the face of the Guimaraes goal. Armand Traore makes an excellent connection but is denied by a superb save. Even so, he should have scored.

Omonia come agonisingly close to equalising but Klodian Duro's long-range dipping strike hits the crossbar with the keeper beaten.

1934: GOAL Omonia Nicosia 1-2 Man City
A genuinely tidy finish from Jo, who shows great technique in controlling a cross from Pablo Zabaleta before drilling the ball low and hard into the net. The Brazilian has had a very mixed evening but eventually shown his class.

1931: TEAM NEWS
Everton midfielder Leon Osman returns to the starting line-up to replace ex-Standard Liege player Marouane Fellaini, who is cup-tied. It is the only change manager David Moyes makes from the team that beat Stoke 3-2 at the weekend.

Central defender Oguchi Onyewu, once on loan at Newcastle, is in the Liege line-up. Liege, of course, have already been on Merseyside this season. They were beaten by a late extra-time goal against Liverpool in a Champions League qualifier.

1930: PENALTY SAVE
Well keeper Graeme Smith makes a brilliant low save to deny Dia. He has made three top saves in 10 minutes.

1930: PENALTY
Mark Reynolds fouls Feret inside the box and it's a penalty to Nancy.

1930: Guimaraes have been unlucky not to at least score tonight. A superb ball across the face of the Pompey goal eludes everyone.

1928: Well keeper Graeme Smith is earning his salary tonight. A fantastic dipping strike from Pascal Berenguer looks to be heading in - but Smith at full stretch tips it on to the crossbar.

1926: "Has anyone else realised that these games are in fact pointless? They should skip all this, give the cup to AC Milan, and the rest of the teams could perhaps play for something plastic."
thick-as-a-brick on 606
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Who, exactly, is thick as a brick?

1923: Motherwell still in it at Nancy - just. Lovely move across the box sets up Dia, but his low shot is saved by the legs of keeper Graeme Smith.

Jermain Defoe forces a save at the near post for Pompey and in Cyprus, Omonia are inches away from taking the lead again.

1922: Purposeful attack from Motherwell, David Clarkson finds space and surges into the box. He collides with Dia and goes to ground but referee Vladimir Hrinak is having none of it. No penalty.

1920: GOAL Omonia Nicosia 1-1 Man City
Cracking finish from Jo, as he slots home into an empty net from all of four yards after a low ball across goal from Shaun Wright-Phillips. Well, he did miss one like that in the first half.

1918: GOAL Portsmouth 2-0 Guimaraes
A cracking cross from Nadir Belhadj is given the finish that it massively deserves when Jermain Defoe volleys home unmarked at the far stick.

1917: Will Man City ever score? Robinho to Jo, who is through on goal. he lets rip with a fierce, fierce strike that seems certain to hit the net but instead crashes into the crossbar.

1916: (See 1850) "Pah - call that a tune. How about: Robin ho robin ho with his box of tricks, robin ho robin ho makes you look like nix, feared by the red loved by the blue, robin ho robin ho robin ho."
Richard via text on 81111

Keep on running. Music from your mind, if you see where I'm going?

1915: Man City should be level but Stephen Ireland fails to convert a one-on-one chance, shooting straight at the keeper.

1914: Plenty of endeavour from Motherwell as they look for the away goal which would put a very different complexion on the match. But Nancy look comfortable.

1911: Guimaraes look like a pretty decent side and Felix Roberto goes close with a low strike across goal.

1910: GOAL Omonia Nicosia 1-0 Man City
Having wasted plenty of chances, City only go and concede. Joe Hart can manages to get his finger-tips to a cracking free-kick from Klodian Duro as the ball arrows its way into the top corner of the net.

1908: PENALTY MISS
Jermain Defoe strikes his penalty kick low and into the corner but it lacks power and, having guessed the correct way, keeper Correa Nilson makes a good save.

1907: PENALTY To Pompey after a foul by Joao Moreno on Jermain Defoe. It very much was a foul as well. No question.

1906: 'Arry Redknapp and Tony Adams don't exactly look thrilled as they watch the action.

1905: Back under way at Pompey and Nancy. Moments away from the resumption in Cyprus.

1902: (See 1832) "Fletch, Germans around me are amazed at the power of the beeb. I ask for German scores and you deliver. Getting a bit rowdy in the train bistro/pub as I try to teach them to sing 'Feed the Fletch and he will score'. The Yak would be proud. In Moyes We Trust!"
Steve via text on 81111

You want to watch out for those rowdy Germans. Though I love the fact they are getting rowdy in the bistro car of a train. Moyes is apparently close to penning a new deal.

1857: I have just watched a replay of the miss by Man City striker Jo. More of that and he will have to put ke on the end of his name.

1855: "Nothing like a former housemate telling me about a cracking goal scored by Portsmouth in the Uefa Cup. All a bit surreal."
andypenders on 606
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Especially when the last time I saw that former housemate I was minding my business watching in Sri Lanka - and there he was presenting a TV programme in Singapore and had turned into some mega star of football coverage in South Asia. Crazy.

1850: Brace yourself for some Manc musical genius.

"There's only one Abu Dhabi- One Abu Dhabi- fill up your car and well buy Kaka. Walkin in a city wonderland!"
Thorny. Herts, via text on 81111

Noel, Stephen Patrick, Mark E, Shaun, Bernard eat your heart out. Though Thorny is from Herts.

1848: Half-time
In Portsmouth, Nicosia and Nancy. So far, so good for Pompey on their European debut. Man City must be wondering about missed chances while the Steelmen have some work to do.

1846: Man City come agonisingly close again. Stephan Ireland starts the move by dispossessing an Omonia player and finishes it when his effort from a remarkably acute angle clips the post.

1845: Man City have started to open Omonia up now and, seconds after Pablo Zabaleta makes a dangerous burst into the area that comes to nothing, Robinho feeds Jo on the edge of the box and he turns and unleashes a fierce shot that cannons off the foot of the post.

1844: GOAL Nancy 1-0 Motherwell
Just four minutes to go to half-time and Motherwell's hopes of going in all-square are dashed. It's a top-drawer header to be fair, Pascal Berenguer guiding the ball past Graeme Smith and into the corner.

1842: PENALTY MISS Sol Campbell is penalised for pulling down Felix Roberto but Pompey escape when the spot kick from Joao Paulo Fagardo clips the crossbar and flies into the crowd.

1842: PENALTY To Guimaraes.

1839: GOAL Portsmouth 1-0 Guimaraes
An absolutely cracking goal from Lassana Diarra, who beats a couple of Guimaraes players and plays a one-two with Jermain Defoe before volleying home.

1838: "Omonia are one of two main Nicosia teams with a left/right political based rivalry. Referring to them as Nicosia is like calling Celtic, Glasgow, and can only heighten your chance of a dodgy kebab when next in north London."
Stavros606 via text on 606

I'll bear that very much in mind.

1837: A cracking turn by Pompey's Jermain Defoe creates a shooting chance. The striker drills the ball low and towards goal but the keeper makes a decent save.

1832: "Evertonian on the train from Frankfurt to Brussels, hoping to catch second half in pub. The Germans around me wanting to know the German scores. Any chance? You haven't let me down yet!"
Steve via text on 81111

You're a long way from Goodison. Stuttgart have beaten Cherno More 2-1, the matches involving Hamburg and Wolfsburg are goalless at the moment.

1830: Nancy certainly enjoying more of the play at the Stade Marcel-Picot, but no real alarms for Mark McGhee's men as of yet.

1828: What a chance! Stephen Ireland squares the ball across goal to Jo, who simply has to tuck the ball into an empty net from inside the six yard box. Alas, the Man City striker fails to his the target. A terrible miss.

1826: "I bet the vet with the pet will have their expectations met.

"It's set, no Thaksin debt, when Robinho hits the net

"Better yet, Brazilians we get gives an offense like Tet.

"Or am I just all wet?"
yaronian on 606
Join the debate on 606

Genius or utter tosh? Or the next Mike Skinner (and I'm not talking rugby union)? I can imagine someone making that up in their bedroom, rapping in front of the mirror.

1825: (See 1813) "My wife just said to me "I think I'm going to leave you for Danny the Stat. Danny my friend, please take her!"
Michael_Essien on 606
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1823: A bit of aggro in Nancy. Motherwell's Keith Lasley gets a yellow card after his loose arm hits Jonathan Brison. Clearly no intent - but it's just as well the referee didn't think it was deliberate as it could have been a red.

1821: Portsmouth go close again, John Utaka striking the ball from 20 yards on the half volley only for his effort to strike the post and rebound to safety.

1820: A cracking chance at Pompey. Peter Crouch slips the ball to Jermain Defoe, who is unmarked 16 yards from goal. The striker hits it first time but the keeper makes a decent finger-tip save. Correa Nilson injures his finger making the save.

1819: (See 1801) "Pompey are kicking off early because the match is being shown live in Europe. Harry Redknapp didn't want an early start."
Peter via text on 81111

1815: Motherwell are holding their own in France. A cagey start, no real chances to speak of as yet.

1814: Stephen Ireland cannot round off a delicious move for City with the necessary finish, drilling his strike well over. Shame. Nicosia then threaten, with Richard Dunne making an important defensive header.

1813: "Fletch is Danny the Stat somehow related to the vampire Le Stat?"
redandblackT1899 on 606
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No, but trust me he looks a lot like Tom Cruise.

1811: Robinho cuts in from the left for City, dribbling his way from one side of the field to the other. He looks extremely dangerous.

1809: Not much to report at Fratton Park. A cagey start with Pompey enjoying more of the ball but nothing much to report so far.

1808: "I am at work at a vets at the moment checking on Man City's progress, I am hiding my screen with the BBC website behind a clients rabbit, that's dedication!"
Anonymous vet worker via text on 8111

Dedication, that's what you need. If you want to be the best...

1804: Man City are all over Omonia Nicosia and Robinho almost opens the scoring with a strike across goal that Antonis Georgallides saves.

1802: So all of the games starting at 1800 BST are now under way. To be fair, they all more or less started at the scheduled time, unlike in Bulgaria earlier in the afternoon.

1801: "Why are Pompey kicking off at six? Don't people work down there?"
Chris, Leeds fan in London, via text on 81111

Good point.

1756: "Man City will lose this game 2-1. I've noticed teams in Cyprus have improved by a margin and there will be a great deal of complacency in this match."
Eduardo = Vela on 606
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1752: Portsmouth make two changes from the weekend's line-up with winger John Utaka shaking off a knee injury to take his place in starting line-up and left-back Nadir Belhadj also brought into the side. Papa Bouba Diop and Younes Kaboul drop to the bench.

This is Pompey's first European tie. Come on Pompey.

1750: TEAM NEWS
Motherwell bring holding midfielder Bob Malcolm in for their first European game for 13 years.

Chris Porter, last season's top scorer, drops to the bench while Marc Fitzpatrick comes in to bolster the midfield with Steven McGarry dropping out. Stephen Hughes has recovered from a knock and will start.

1746: Don't forget, for UK users only you can watch the Motherwell game on this website and on BBC Scotland. T'riffic.

1745: "I'm in two minds, what do you think I should do? Go to my local which is a five minute walk and watch the Tottenham game or stay in and watch the match on TV. Its just I always enjoy watching Spurs games as they are always entertaining (unlike my team Newcastle) but at the same time the Everton game on paper looks like a belter too."
kyleleeds on 606
Join the debate on 606

Pub - no question.

1741: "Fletch, have you got any fletcho predos for the games tonight? You won't have to try hard to beat Stevo!"
Sam, Birkenhead, via text on 81111

Don't say that, Stevo will get upset. Then again, he probably won't. Anyhow, I'm not very good at predictions. I reckon all our brave boys have a very decent shout - and I imagine Everton would love nothing more than to make short work of Standard Liege given how Liverpool so laboured against the Belgian outfit.

1737: TEAM NEWS
Manchester City boss Mark Hughes makes two changes from the side that lost to Chelsea on Saturday. Javier Garrido comes in at left-back for Michael Ball and Elano replaces Dietmar Hamann, joining fellow Brazilians Jo and Robinho in the starting line-up in Cyprus.

1730: "Aston Villa playing in Europe is good for them. Them winning games away without shining is certainly good too. I don't get what the discussion about it. Results count!"
Thanks A lot BBC7 on 606
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1721: "It was poor but at the end of the day, Villa could have won by four or five goals. I don't think we were outplayed but, because this team are 'minnows' and matched us for a good 40 minutes, then people have the view we were dominated."
jazza0707
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1717: PLAYER RATER
Not long to go now until those 6pm kick-offs - in the meantime, here is our old friend Danny the Stat with more player rater chat from the Villa game.

"The now-infamous "Rater Lag" (it'll catch on) is in full effect. Only Nigel Reo-Coker and Gareth Barry have more than six, fives and fours elsewhere. Lovech's players are all sixes and sevens - rather like their defending for that final goal. It all seems rather harsh, people. Villa did win 3-1 you know! Get involved to change it..."
Aston Villa Player Rater

1711: "Too bad for Litex, but again it just comes to show that, in modern football, playing better doesn't mean a thing."
acmilanfan on 606
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1708: FULL-TIME Litex Lovech 1-3 Aston Villa
In a game where they were outplayed for almost the entire first-half, Villa see their opponents get two men sent off and come away from the first leg of a tricky Uefa Cup tie with a 3-1 lead to take back to Villa Park. Martin O'Neill salutes the travelling fans at the final whistle and he will be delighted with this result.

1706: GOAL Litex Lovech 1-3 Aston Villa
Stiliyan Petrov picks up a ball from Marlon Harewood and although Uros Golubovic saves his first effort, the Bulgarian is first to the rebound and slots home.

1704: Ah, apologies for saying it should be 3-0 to Villa. That would be harsh on Litex, especially since they scored first.

1701: Another Villa chance goes begging. Gabriel Agbonlahor breaks into the box and flashes the ball across goal. It eludes Marlon Harewood though, who has not had a great time since coming on.

1700: "I hope Villa are this sloppy on Sunday! We will tear them to pieces!"
Ashley, West Brom fan, via text on 81111

1658: Still some defending to do for Martin O'Neill's side too though - Litex's goalscorer Ivelin Popov floats a free-kick into the box and it needs a decent header by Martin Laursen at the far post for Villa to clear their lines.

1656: It should really be 3-1 to Villa. Sandrinho gives the ball away again and Villa suddenly have men over with Stiliyan Petrov in possession on the edge of the box. He elects to feed Marlon Harewood on the right but Harewood makes a right old mess of his shot, scuffing it badly and the ball is hacked clear. That would have wrapped it up too.

1654: I've lost count of the number of times Gabriel Agbonlahor has been hauled down or tripped in this game. Again, he does well to turn his man but gets a face full of soggy Bulgarian turf for his trouble.

1651: Litex are still throwing men forward though - and all of a sudden they have three men in the Villa box when Nicky Shorey slips while trying to clear. A nervous moment for Villa but the loose ball eludes Sandrinho and the chance is gone.

1648: I think that goal, not to mention having their second player sent off, has ended Litex's hopes - and their fans seem to know it. Strange game this though - the Bulgarians have been much the better side for most of it.

1645: GOAL Litex Lovech 1-2 Aston Villa
Gareth Barry slots the penalty home. Never in doubt. A remarkable handball that led to the penalty, must mention that again.

1644: RED CARD PENALTY Remarkable. A Milner cross comes in from the left and causes chaos inside the Litex box. Mihail Venkov shows amazing handball skills to smash the ball off the line. Red follows.

1643: "Is Reo-Coker the only one who cares about this? Everyone else seems lethargic and off the pace as well having no desire to close down and win the ball. Its not good enough, I feel sorry for the fans who've flown over to support the team and are being treated to this."
jazza0707 on 606
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1642: Craig Gardner has had a mixed afternoon at best and makes way for the aforementioned Harewood.

1640: James Milner shoots from 20 yards. His strike is blocked. Villa are about to bring on Marlon Harewood.

1637: They might be down to 10 men but Litex are on the attack and a ball across goal demands a strong hand from Friedel to clear the danger.

1635: (See 1543) "I think we can safely assume that as Paul Fletcher doesn't recognise the importance of Lenya Lovech, he must be under 30!"
Blue Baby 40 on 606Join the debate on 606

Oh dear, if only you were right. I did a survey the other day and, for the first time, was in the 35-44 age group. Very bad chat. However, as several people have pointed out, perhaps I should know a little more about American pop music from the 1970s. Or maybe not.

1632: RED CARD
Cedric Cambon goes down and spends a long time on the turf. This is because he has just committed another bookable foul. When he eventually climbs to his feet he is greeted with the second yellow and then, inevitably, the red. No Graham Poll out here.

1628: Villa threaten for the first time in this half when James Milner's free-kick curls over a crowd of players but the ball bounces straight into the hands of Uros Golubovic. Nigel Reo-Coker gets a sight of goal soon after but his shot is a tame one - low and straight at the keeper.

1624: Oh dear. Gareth Barry collects the ball from Gabriel Agbonlahor, then hits the ball straight at his team-mate's head when he tries to release Stiliyan Petrov. The rebound lands at Barry's feet but he proceeds to give the ball away again with a lazy cross-field pass. It is still not happening for Villa at the moment.

1620: Litex pick up where they left off before the break - piling on the pressure. Ivelin Popov is still causing the Villa defence problems with his neat lay-offs but they hold out for now.

1618: Villa get the second half under way.

1615: "The pitch isn't great but Villa seem to be suffering from a dearth of ideas. Not sure they are fielding the right side."
Football-mad-dion on 606
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1612: "Nobody seems to have mentioned the pitch yet. It seems a bit sticky and causing both sides a bit of a problem. Martin Laursen's mistake just before the ball sat up for Villa to take advantage of for the equaliser."
Anon via text on 81111

1610: PLAYER RATER
Here's Danny the Stat with a bit of half-time chat. That rhymes - it could catch on?

"Some pretty dismal marks for the Villa men on our Player Rater with barely a soul reaching five-and-a-half. But the famous "Rater Lag" (not much of a catchphrase, but people will grow to love it) is in effect. So, goalscorer Nigel Reo-Coker has just 5.21, but that's likely to rise soon enough. Get involved."
Aston Villa Player Rater

1608: "Great time to score for Villa. They need to come out pumped up for the second half now to take the game away from Litex. Sorry for all the cliches!"
Pritchard7 on 606
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Definitely some work to do for Martin O'Neill at the interval. The scoreline is flattering Villa at the moment.

1603: HALF-TIME Litex Lovech 1-1 Aston Villa
Villa have been under the cosh - and pretty poor - for almost the entire half. They trailed to Ivelin Popov's goal but Nigel Reo-Coker's opportunist strike means they are not only all-square at the interval, they have a lovely away goal in the bag too.

1602: GOAL Litex Lovech 1-1 Aston Villa
The Bulgarians waste a golden opportunity to go 2-0 up when Wilfried Niflore rounds Brad Friedel but fires into the side-netting. They live to regret it too as a disastrous mix-up between Litex keeper Uros Golubovic and Cedric Cambon lets in Nigel Reo-Coker to roll the ball into an empty net. Thoroughly undeserved by Villa but will Martin O'Neill care? No.

1600: Gabriel Agbonlahor has been working hard without much joy so far but he at last manages to turn on the ball and run at the home defence. He gets to the byeline too but his cross is pretty disappointing to be honest.

1557: One of Litex's Brazilian contingent, Wellington, tries his luck with a curling right-footed free-kick from 30 yards out but the ball flies just over Brad Friedel's crossbar.

1554: More danger for Villa but a decent ball in from Mihail Venkov on the left drifts out of play. The problem for the visitors is that, even when they do clear their lines, Gabriel Agbonlahor is on his own up front and the Bulgarians are winning the ball back very quickly.

1552: "Craig Gardner has been very poor so far. He's given it away more than once, got in Luke Young's way, broken down several of our own attacks and is now at fault for us having a goal disallowed!"
jazza0707 on 606
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1550: A better effort on goal this time from the Bulgarians and Brad Friedel has to get down smartly to collect Dudu's low shot. These are worrying times for Martin O'Neill - Villa just not in it at the moment.

1545: More pressure from Litex and they are still having a lot of joy down their left flank - Luke Young is probably the busiest player on the pitch at the moment. But the end result for the home side is a long-range shot from Dzemal Berberovic that is horribly high and wide.

1543: There have been a few texts and 606s talking about Litex Lovech and a song from the 1970s called Lucky Number. I don't really understand what these people are on about.

1542: Gareth Barry heads an 'equaliser' for Villa from James Milner's excellent cross. But the goal is ruled out for offside. Replays show that Barry himself is not offside when the ball comes in but rather Craig Gardner. Harsh.

1540: "Brad Friedel! I may be jumping the gun here (I've been a Villa fan since I was 10 and I am 42 now) but this keeper has been described as one of the most solid performers ever. In my humble opinion, he hasn't really brought any stability to Villa's occasional shaky defence and he's let in quite a few goals already! I hope he lives up to his reputation and eventually come good."
PaulMad7 on 606
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1535: A looping header from Gareth Barry into the six-yard box causes problems but Litex keeper Uros Golubovic manages to punch the ball clear. Villa are finally enjoying some time on the ball.

1532: A Litex player goes down in the box under a heavy challenge and the crowd roars for a penalty. Nothing doing but Villa need to keep possession for a while.

1530: Litex switch play beautifully and Villa need a few minutes to settle down and play their way into the contest.

1527: GOAL Litex Lovech 1-0 Aston Villa
The Bulgarians win a free-kick out wide and Ivelin Popov swings the ball into the box. It eludes the wall and several players looking to head the ball either towards goal or away to safety. Crucially, it also eludes a stationary Brad Friedel.

1523: Popov tries his luck from distance, shooting across goal but wide as Litex continue to push forward.

Villa are looking to break forward quickly and use their width and pace.

1519: Litex play in an extremely modest stadium, the sort where you could probably climb a surrounding hill and watch for free.

The Bulgarians have made a pretty solid start, looking to push forward. Litex have several Brazilians in their side, including Wellington and Dudu.

1515: What? The match has started in Bulgaria, somewhat ahead of schedule.

1514: "I'm worried! I've got Ashley Young in my dream team, when you say the injured John Carew and Ashley Young are absent do you mean AY is injured too."
Sean via text on 81111

Sean, Young has a knee injury, though I have been told that it isn't too serious. As Corporal Jones would have said "don't panic".

1512: "Litex sounds like a brand of tissue. The Uefa Cup could be the cure for your cold. Though I hope Villa give the Bulgarian outfit more than a few headaches."
Carl, Birmingham, via text on 81111

Carl, you really should be writing comedy scripts. Cheered me up, a touch.

1508: "I personally reckon the Uefa Cup is the most entertaining competition of the lot. You get hatfuls of goals, big teams rubbing shoulders with no-hopers, genuine shocks and some brilliant football. Watching Zenit pass their way to glory was much more fun than United's series of tight 1-0s in the Champions League last season. As a Boro fan, I have memories of those 4-3 comebacks and going through against Roma in the Olympic Stadium. I really hope we get into Europe again this season.

"Only trouble for you, Fletch, is that most of the action only starts after the group stages."
SYSTEM-J on 606
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You might call that cold comfort - gedditt?

1455: "I am stuck at work, is the Villa game on or has bad weather ruined everything?"
Scubar2k8 on 606
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Villa have four matches in nine days so maybe they wouldn't have been too bothered if this was postponed. That said, having done all the travelling to get there they might as well play. Anyhow, there has been a lot of rain in Bulgaria but the match does go ahead.

1450: TEAM NEWS
Aston Villa central defender Carlos Cuellar and midfielder James Milner make their full debuts, while Craig Gardner is also in the side. Curtis Davies makes way in defence, while the injured John Carew and Ashley Young are the other absentees.

And yes, that will be Milner's second full debut for the club after joining permanently from Newcastle.

1445 BST: I am absolutely full of a cold, below the weather, runny of nose - and all manner of other related ailments that have so far drawn absolutely no sympathy from my wife.

What could possibly cheer me up? Uefa Cup football, that's what. Hours and hours of it.

Some say the Uefa Cup is very much the second tier of European competition these days but it has not really been a classic week of Champions League football and I'm hoping for some seriously entertaining action today.

Villa at Litex Lovech, Motherwell visting Nancy, cash rich Man City at Omonia Nicosia, Portsmouth entertaining Guimaraes, Everton hosting Standard Liege (remember them Liverpool?) and, finally, Tottenham play Wisla Krakow.

What more could you want?


see also
O'Neill admits to 'sloppy start'
18 Sep 08 |  Football


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