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Pattaya Daily News

15 November 2009 :: 12:11:11 pm 5897

European World Cup Qualifier Playoffs; First Leg Review

The first leg of the European World Cup Qualifier Playoffs was contested on Saturday the 14th of November with the follow-up due to be held on Wednesday the 18th of November. At the conclusion of the second leg the winning 4 teams will progress through to the finals in 2010 held in South Africa. The following is a brief review of events from the 4 matches that were played out overnight.
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Portugal v Bosnia Herzegovina (1-0)

An uneventful match was decided by a first half header from Porto defender Bruno Alves. The Bosnia manager will be a little bemused as to how they were not able to get something out of the match after having several brilliant chances denied by the Portugal keeper and frustratingly the woodwork. It must also be noted that Portugal were playing the match without their world-class winger Cristiano Ronaldo, and as a result lacked in creativity in their final third plays.

In the end a superb cross by Chelsea midfielder Deco found Bruno Alves at the far post in the Bosnian area, who did not fail to make the defence pay for their lax in concentration (38th min). Several more chances were produced by both teams in a match where neither produced their best football; ultimately it was Portugal who took a narrow lead into the second leg. Bosnia must now attempt to overturn the deficit if they hope to reach their first ever World Cup Finals campaign.

Greece v Ukraine (0-0)

Greece was held goalless at home by a very effective counter attacking Ukrainian side. The Ukrainian national team has made the Olimpiysky stadium somewhat of a graveyard for visiting teams, as a result they are now outright favorites to progress through to the finals in South Africa following the conclusion of the second leg proceedings.

Despite the scoreless result, the match contained a concerted amount of shots and attacking play from both teams. The Ukrainians perhaps had the lions share of chances on goal, but ultimately both teams were let down by their final plays. Quite remarkable in such an important match with the scores level, only the one card was issued in the 60th minute to Greece defender Socratis Papaststhopoulos for dissent.

Republic of Ireland v France (0-1)

In a fiery match that saw both sets of players clash in the center circle after the match, France grabbed the honours through a second half goal from Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka. A very vocal crowd in Dublin did everything they could to steal their troops on the field, but in the end it was not enough as France managed to contain the feisty Irish attacks down to the whistle.

The only goal of the match came through a Nicolas Anelka strike that wickedly deflected into the goal off of Ireland defender Sean St Ledger, leaving keeper Shay Given wrong footed and no chance of saving the shot. Both teams had various opportunities to score but ultimately both defences were up to the task. Ireland were unlucky however not to go into the break infront after an open goal shot by Liam Lawrence was cruelly deflected on its way to the net. The negative result at home means Ireland have a mountain to climb in order to reach the finals.

Russia v Slovenia (2-1)

A double by Everton midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov ensured that Russia will take a slim lead into the second leg of what is now a finely balanced fixture. With the second leg to be played in Maribor, Slovenia go into the home tie with every chance of overturning the deficit.

Bilyaletdinov’s 40th minute strike from outside the area gave Russia the lead going into the break, before he subsequently doubled their lead on 51 minutes after a deflected ball come into his path, where he coolly slotted home the winner. Slovenia managed to grab what could prove to be a vital away goal, when substitute Nejc Pecnik headed home a free ball in the Russian penalty area following a save made by Russian keeper Akinfeev.

Reporter : Harry Roberts   Photo : Internet   Category : Sports News

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