Friday, October 22, 2004

No Greek tragedy

A Chelsea-esque performance saw us snatch a useful 1-0 victory over Panionios in Athens and get our participation in the group stage of the UEFA Cup off to a good start.

Chances were at a premium, but three minutes from time substitute Ameobi, who'd made a nuisance of himself ever since coming on, unsettled two Panionios defenders into sandwiching him in the box. Not the most blatant penalty, but we weren't about to quibble. Shearer duly crashed the ball into the top corner and the points were ours.

We had looked the more threatening side all night, bossing the game and controlling possession, but were unable to turn our superiority into goals - mainly because our shooting was abysmal, several different players guilty of launching the ball into orbit when well-placed. Before the penalty winner, the closest we'd come was Robert's well-saved shot, Ameobi's poor far-post header when unmarked and Shearer's second half header which was acrobatically tipped over the bar by the keeper. Panionios battled manfully, but as an attacking force they were weak, only troubling our usually brittle defence on a couple of occasions.

Though the result was pleasing, the performances of Milner and particularly Robert were not. Granted the places in the starting line-up they've been pressing for, neither did themselves justice or pushed their claims to be included for Sunday's visit of Man City to St James's. Milner didn't seem to have the zip and zest of recent substitute appearances, whilst Robert's contribution consisted of a few decent set-piece deliveries. Surely our errant Frenchman must be aware that coasting along lazily and giving the ball away time and again is not the way to Souness's heart.


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