Check back every Monday for BC Magazine’s “Euroscore” Round-Up of the weekend's top matches from Europe.
Liverpool stay top, a point ahead of Chelsea and six points in front of Manchester United, following their comfortable 3-1 win at troubled Blackburn Rovers. Blackburn have now dropped into the relegation zone putting more pressure on manager Paul Ince.
Chelsea kept up the pressure winning 2-0 at Bolton with two first half goals from Anelka and Deco. Meanwhile Manchester United finally broke down a resilient Sunderland winning 1-0 with an injury time goal from defender Vidic.
It was Sunderland’s first match without manager Roy Keane who surprisingly resigned during the week. The hunt is on for his replacement with ex-Newcastle and Bolton boss Sam Allardyce and former West Ham manager Alan Curbishley among the favourites. Whoever it is they will have to stop a run of six defeats in seven matches, form that has seen them slide into the drop zone.
There was a thriller involving Villa who won 3-2 at Everton. They initially appeared to have the match sown up when they were leading 2-1 on 90 minutes. Everton defender Joleon Lescott scored his second of the game with a volley making it 2-2 in the 93rd minute. Remarkably Aston Villa went straight up the other end and England prospect Ashley Young scored his second goal of the game giving the away side all three points.
Germany This weekend’s Euroscore featured match took place on Friday night in the Bundesliga between the top two sides. Last season’s champions Bayern Munich took on upstarts TSG Hoffenheim at the Allianz Arena in Munich.
It was top against second at the magnificent Allianz Arena on Friday night. Remarkably it was the away team, Hoffenheim who are enjoying an incredible start to their first ever season in the 1.Bundesliga, who went into the game in top spot.
Formed in 1945 following the merger of two local sides, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim remained a relatively small amateur side until the early 1990s. Their rise to the top since then has been nothing short of miraculous. By 1996 they were in the Verbansliga Nordbaden. They finished top in 2000 and were promoted to the 4th division of the Oberliga Baden-Wurttemburg.
They earned another promotion this time to the Regionalliga Sud by winning the league. Just two years ago they finished second and found themselves in the 2.Bundesliga, the second tier of German football. Incredibly they won that in their first season. They have followed that by going top of the first division. A few years ago the very thought that they would be playing Bayern Munich at all was frankly ridiculous. To go there as leaders was the stuff of German fairytales.
Not only that but they took the lead early in the second half through that man Vedad Ibisevic. The 24-year-old Bosnian forward scored an instinctive, predatory strikers goal in the 49th minute when his excellent first touch created space in the Bayern defence for him to score. He was signed from fellow German team Alemannia Aachen.
He has been around a bit starting his career in the States playing 22 games for St. Louis Strikers, scoring 18 times. He moved on to Chicago Fire scoring three in as many matches. A short unsuccessful four game spell in France at Paris Saint-Germain was goalless and he moved on to Dijon, and from there on to Aachen. However he has clearly come of age and the goal against Bayern was his 18th of an incredible season.
With the January transfer window looming you can expect several big clubs to be on his trail. From Hoffenheim’s point of view they can turn in a very quick and healthy profit on the striker. However it is his goals that have landed them in such a high position. He is fluent in English, French, and German, and no doubt could learn Italian or Spanish if one of the big clubs put in a suitably large bid. Paris Saint-Germain must be kicking themselves.
In this match Hoffenheim held on until the 60th minute when Phillip Lahm burst through the visitors tight defence scoring with the help of a deflection that lifted the ball above the goalkeeper. Italian striker Luca Toni ended the dream with a very late winner when the ball broke to him in front of goal. Hoffenheim has been so close to taking a point from their more glamorous opponents.