UEFA Cup: Everton, Tottenham have the heroics but forget the fundamentals

Everton 2, Fiorentina 0  (Fiorentina wins 4-2 on penalties)

The curse of the 12-yard kick. Yakubu faked out Fiorentina’s keeper, but hit the post. Jagielka tried to sky it top left corner, but he missed down the middle instead. Despite Everton’s dominance at home in regulation time, you could sort of tell it was still Fiorentina’s game. Andy Johnson put the first one in, earning vocal support from the crowd for the rest of the game. Mikel Arteta provided the shock, however, ripping a shot from 30 yards out which caught the Italians off guard. This loss stings, but it doesn’t take away from the fact Everton have found consistency in play and a confidence that they belong in the top five. Timmy Howard was in net, but couldn’t get a jump on any of the penalties including Mario Santana’s which sent Fiorentina onto the quarterfinals. With 9 games left in the EPL, the Toffees can now concentrate on finding their way to higher ground – a place they might even deserve to be – the UCL.

Tottenham 1, PSV Eindhoven 0 (PSV wins 6-5 on penalties)

Who else but Dimitar Berbatov to score the equalizer away from home? It was Jermaine Jenas and Pascal Chimbonda, however, who couldn’t hit the crucial penalties that a young PSV seemed to ease through. Berbatov was kept quiet for 80 minutes until – as if not to be shown up by Arteta’s long range bomb – the Bulgarian unleashed a ferocious volley that blew by PSV’s keeper Gomes. The Hotspur were resilient, but one can certainly question Juande Ramos’ need to alter the formations and tactics on the fly – his insertion of Lee Young-Pyo for his first appearance in 2 months, Zokora at holding mid (which I liked actually), etc. They equalized away from home, however, and got the result they needed until the end. Ramos summed it up nicely to ESPN Soccernet…”You can’t train for penalty pressure”. Sounds like another post in the making…

Other Results:

Zenit St. Petersburg 2, Marseille 0 (Zenit win on away goals, 3-3) – it’s not that Marseille didn’t have their chances, but the away goal they let up in France came back to bite them in the ass; Djibril Cisse was kept quiet, while no one had an answer for Pavel Pogrebniak who struck for a brace and put the Russians through

Hamburg SV 3, Bayer Leverkusen 2 (Leverkusen wins on away goals, 3-3) – HSV had the attacking edge, but Leverkusen converted first. Rafael Van der Vaart led a potent attack, however, that mustered three in a decent effort that unfortunately need 4 goals to go through. Theofanis Gekas was again the decider in the issue scoring Leverkusen’s push through goal. Jose Paolo Guerrero and Trochowski also scored for HSV, while Sergei Barbarez found the first goal for Leverkusen.

Getafe 1, Benfica 0 (Getafe won 3-1 on aggregate) – Benfica sputtered to another loss this one coming several days after their now former boss Jose Antonio Camacho left his post (i.e. was sacked). There was no real urgency coming from the Portuguese and Getafe used that to extend their ‘cinderella run’ into the UEFA Cup quarterfinals. Apparently, Manchester United assistant Carlos Quieroz is in Benfica’s sights for the manager’s position – and that would be great news for Freddy Adu.

Anderlecht 2, Bayern Munich 1 (Bayern won 6-2 on aggregate) – Bayern lost the game but won the war and also gave some invaluable experience to some of their younger players in the process. Young Brazilian central defender Breno has a bright future in Munich and he got his first run-out in the UEFA Round of 16. Highly-touted prospect Toni Kroos also played the first half and left seemingly with a knock. Both 18 year olds were a bit outplayed by Anderlecht’s 20-year old Ukranian Aleksandr Yakovenko, but they didn’t need to shine – they just needed to win.

Action Continues…

Werder Bremen vs. Glasgow Rangers (Rangers hold 2-0 lead) – Rangers firmly hold the lead in this one and if they don’t blow up should find themselves in the quarterfinals.

Sporting Lisbon vs. Bolton (Tied 1-1) – Bolton’s Gary Megson has opted for a second-tier line-up in this one as he wants to rest Diouf, Nolan, Jaaskaleinen, McCann, O’Brien, Campo, and Ricardo Gardner for a relegation battle vs. Wigan this coming weekend. Staving off relegation over European glory? Bold, but smart. Still no Johann Smith for this one though.

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England’s UEFA teams in trouble, Scots sit pretty

Fiorentina 2, Everton 0

Fiorentina kept Everton to 1 shot on goal…1 measly shot. The chaos started early for the Toffees as the Italians were relentless, attacking from the get-go. Tim Howard was the only thing keeping Everton in the game as Tim Cahill couldn’t get anything working past the midfield, Yakubu was border-line non-existent as well. David Moyes kept pressing onwards though, determined to leave Florence with an away goal. He inserted Arteta and Andy Johnson in an attempt to wake up the offense. No dice. Howard wasn’t beaten until the 70th minute when Zdravko Kuzmanovic rocketed a shot right outside the penalty box. Ricardo Montolivo – a wing midfielder heavily touted in the Serie A – got the second ten minutes later after a nice exchange left him open to bury a first-time volley past Howard. The American goalkeeper was probably man of the match as a rout looked possible from the beginning.

PSV Eindhoven 1, Tottenham 0

The Spurs had their chances, but ultimately it was young Jefferson Farfan’s day. The Peruvian youngster – although it seems like he’s been in PSV’s set-up for the longest time – hit the only goal of the game in the 34th minute. Tottenham has cooled down considerably since their Carling Cup victory a couple weeks ago, but with Woodgate and King returning in the back, you would expect a different score-line. In fact, the two veterans weren’t at fault for Farfan’s goal. Gilberto, who had a pretty terrible European-debut for Juande Ramos, toyed with the ball in the back and Farfan made him pay. He stripped the Brazilian and proceeded to give PSV the 1-0 advantage. Both Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov were firing, but nothing was finding the target and the result stuck. The Spurs now face a tough away leg in Eindhoven come next week – by then, they could be up to the challenge.

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TRANSFERS: Klinsmann to Bayern, Anelka signs for Chelsea

JURGEN KLINSMANN: The former German national team coach has come out of hiding and spurned speculation that he would take over for Rafa Benitez at Liverpool. Instead, starting in July – Klinsmann will focus his efforts on returning Bayern Munich to dominance in the Bundesliga and Europe. Ottmar Hitzfeld is set to step down at season’s end.  Munich is at the top with company – Werder Bremen keeping pace and HSV 4 points behind.

NICOLAS ANELKA: $30 million is what it took in the end as Bolton’s French striker and leading scorer is out the door to Stamford Bridge. It is Avram Grant’s first signing in charge of Chelsea and there’s no doubt this will be a good one – Anelka seems to have found his old stride (Arsenal days) after bouncing about for a good 10 years. Maybe the years have tempered him. Either way, Anelka should provide support for Shevchenko in the goalscoring department and his signing was almost a necessity for Grant as Chelsea are nursing stars John Terry and Frank Lampard, missing four in Kalou, Drogba, Mikel and Essien to the African Nations Cup, and dealing with a somewhat suspect backline. Anelka’s department of scoring goals – if efficient – could jumpstart Chelsea to a second-half run. Chelsea currently sit in 3rd – six points behind the leaders.

Other key transfers so far today: Liverpool finalized the signing of Slovakian defender Martin Skrtel for $9 million; Derby captured it’s fourth in Tottenham wantaway midfielder Hossam Ghaly (on loan)

And yes, we have heard that Clint Mathis is on his way to Ergotelis of the Greek SuperLeague on top of Clarence Goodson to IK Start in the Norwegian second division (Adeccoligean). I’m sure my colleague Jeff will have something to say about that. Eddie Johnson’s transfer prospects have taken a hit as well with Peter Vermes saying that no new bids have been tabled for the striker since Derby last summer.