Posts Tagged ‘ Champions League ’

Rovers Ready For Europa Bow

It is a case of mixed news for Irish football during the first round of group games in Europe’s premier club cup competitions.

Reigning Airticity League champions Shamrock Rovers are just hours away from making history tonight by being the first League of Ireland side to compete in the group stage of the Europa League.

However, in the Champions League, a much more sobering statistic is emerging for Irish football.

This year’s campaign may well be the first in over a decade in which a Republic of Ireland player will not star for any of the top English Premier League sides.

The summer departures of defender John O’Shea and goalkeeper Shay Given from Man Utd and Man City respectively mean Irish players are very thin on the ground in Europe’s top competition.

Midfielder Darron Gibson is the only member of Giovanni Trapattoni’s Irish squad who remains at a Champions League club.

However injuries and increased midfield options at Old Trafford mean Derry native Gibson may well be peripheral to manager Alex Ferguson’s plans.

Things look slightly better for English-based Irish players in the Europa League.

Ace winger Damien Duff will take his place in the Fulham side as they kick-off their Europa campaign with a home tie against Dutch side FC Twente.

Meanwhile at Stoke, midfielders Glenn Whelan and Rory Delap and forward Jonathan Walters are sure to play a big part in the Potter’s rare European foray.

Both Whelan and Walters are expected to start in Stoke’s tough away tie in Ukraine with Dinamo Kiev.

However the big news for Irish football tonight will be played out at Tallaght Stadium.

The ground will be packed to capacity as Shamrock Rovers take on crack Russian outfit Rubin Kazan in an historic night for Irish football.

Rovers’ are still on cloud nine after their incredible 3-2 aggregate win over Partizan Belgrade in the Europa qualifiers.

They will be hoping they won’t come crashing back to earth just yet against a side who were the last team to win at the Nou Camp against current European Champions Barcelona.

That 2-1 win for the Russian outfit came in October 2009 and seven of the team that played that night are in the squad that has travelled to Dublin.

However Hoops midfielder Stephen Rice said Kazan’s Barca achievement will have no bearing on tonight’s encounter.

Rice said: “It was a couple of years ago, things have changes, so it’s really of no relevance.”

Rice added that he is really looking forward to Rovers’ historic night and is delighted that UEFA have passed Tallaght Stadium as good enough to host their home games in a group that also includes Tottenham and Greek outfit PAOK Salonika.

He said: “It’s great because this is our home. We are used to the ground and the pitch. I think we are all happy it’s here in Tallaght and we can use that to our advantage.”

By Keith Falkiner

Premier League Results

Chelsea 2-0 Blackburn Rovers

Goals from Branoslav Ivanovic and Nicolas Anelka lifted Carlo Ancelotti`s side back into the Champions League places.

Man City 4-3 Wolves

Wolves battled valiantly at Eastlands but were undone by a Carlos Tevez strike. Nenad Milijas gave Wolves a shock lead early on when he prodded home from narrow range. A Kolo Toure goal and a Tevez strike either side of half time but Man City 2-1 up. Yaya Toure scored shortly after and Tevez added his second. Kevin Doyle kickstarted the fight back scoring from the penalty spot after he was brought down by former Wolves player Joleon Lescott. Mick McCarthy`s side further cranked up the pressure four minutes from time when Ronald Zubar scored but the equaliser was not forthcoming. This win was enough to lift City to the top of the table.   

Stoke 2-0 Bolton

A Danny Higginbotham goal and a penalty from Matthew Etherington ensured Bolton`s away day blues continued.

West Brom 3-2 Blackpool

An 87th minute goal by Peter Odemwingie ensured West Brom took the spoils in a pulsating match. A sublime chip from David Vaughan had given Blackpool an 11th minute lead before Odemwingie drew things level. James Morrison put the Baggies ahead in the second  half and when Gary Taylor Fletcher equalised for the Tangerines it seemed as if a draw would be the outcome. Odemwingie broke Tangerine hearts when he poked home his second strike of the day. 

West Ham 0-3 Arsenal

A double from Robin Van Persie, one of which was a penalty and a Theo Walcott strike ensured West Ham remain rooted to the foot of the table.

Wigan 1-1 Fulham

A late Andy Johnson goal secured a point for Mark Hughes` men ,cancelling out Hugo Rodallega`s goal.