MICHAEL HADLEY - Saturday, August 4, 2012
The three Americans currently competing in the Europa League's third qualifying round achieved varying levels of success in the first leg of action Thursday evening.
KuPS 1-0 Bursaspor
American defender Echtu Tabe and KuPS continued their unlikely run in the Europa League, grinding out a victory at home against Bursaspor from Turkey.
Tabe picked up a yellow card in the 16th minute of play, but the defensive effort from his back line was more than enough to secure the 1-0 victory.
Following a foul 30 yards out on the far side of the field, the ensuing free kick was dangerously sent into the box for KuPS. With the Bursaspor keeper unable to parry the ball away, 24 year old Estonian Sander Puri buried a point-blank shot for the game's first only goal.
Tabe played the full 90 minutes in the victory, providing lock-down defense to seal the victory.
In the previous two rounds, KuPS took leads into the second leg and was able to hold off desperation at each turn. Any goals scored in Turkey by the Fins will be especially important as the first tiebreaker in the Europa League is away goals.
St. Patricks 0-3 Hannover
Another American defender, veteran Steve Cherundolo, assisted in his teams shut out as Hannover of the German Bundesliga was victorious on the road against St. Patricks of Ireland.
With St. Patricks opting to sit back and absorb Hannover pressure, Didier Ya Konan found Leon Andreasen at the top of the penalty box. The Dane, returning from a long battle with injuries, rifled a shot into the top corner, giving Hannover the 1-0 lead just six minutes into action.
In the second half, St. Patricks began more aggresively, attempting to seize the opportunity of home field advantage. After winning a corner, the Saint's Chris Fagan found the ball on the penalty spot, but a sea of players from both sides proved too much to find the back of the net.
Christian Pander doubled Hannover's lead in the 68th minute after the guests won a free kick from 35 yards out. His shot curled around the St. Patricks wall, leaving the Saint keeper scrambling in vain.
Man of the match Ya Konan put the final nail in St. Patricks coffin in the 80th minute. Konstantin Rauch fired a shot in from the right flank that, after pin-balling around the box, eventually found its way to Ya Konan's feet. The Red's striker made no mistake burying the attempt, ending the scoring at 3-0 in favor of the German club.
Cherundolo's 90 minutes were spent mostly watching the Hannover attack, as the Irish squad barely threatened Hannover's defensive line. St. Patricks will certainly have their work cut out for them in Germany next Thursday.
Vojvodina 2-1 Rapid Vienna
It was stoppage time drama that dominated the post-game talk following Terrence Boyd and Rapid Vienna's trip to Serbia.
After Rapid tied the game in the 90th minute, a Vojvodina sent a cross into the box that was easily played by Rapid goalkeeper Lukas Konigshofer. Upon apparently hearing a whistle, he softly rolled the ball to himself, assuming the play had been blown dead due to contact in the box.
The whistle hadn't come from the referee, but instead a Vojvodina supporter, and Milan Bojovic slammed home the winner for the Serbians. Konigshofer's gaff has since been plastered throughout the internet.
The first 93 minutes were essentially even between the two clubs. It took 75 minutes for either team to score, as Cameroonian forward Aboubakar Oumarou put the home side up initially.
In the 90th minute, Rapid looked to have secured the draw when 22 year old Deni Alar scored his tenth goal in two years for the Austrian club.
But the late drama would seal the storylines in favor of Vojvodina. Boyd's 90 minutes were spent goalless, though extremely active as the 21 year old striker continues to impress.
All three second legs will take place on Thursday 9 August. Hannover and Rapid Vienna will both host with KuPS journeying to Turkey.