Monday, September 17, 2012
Moldova & Italy September 2012
Seeing England play in Moldova followed by two games in Serie B in Italy on the way home.
7th September Moldova 0 England 5 World Cup qualifying 10,250 (1,000 away)
My route was via Milan and Timisoara to Chisinau where I arrived at around 4pm on the day of the game.
There was just time for a walk around the central area, a kebab and a shared taxi ride to the Zimbru stadium.
Arriving at 9.10pm, for a 9.45pm kickoff, was a misjudgement as it was chaotic outside with just one entrance being used resulting in the inevitable crush.
As happened a few times the locals proved more helpful than usual aiding my way as they did on the buses and shared taxis.
Many obviously appreciated people visiting their country.
And no doubt the local economy was boosted by the alcohol consumption of the visiting fans.
Once inside what is a small, neat, two tier ground it soon became clear this was going to be an easy night for England.
The initial penalty looked soft but the early goal and the subsequent Lampard header meant it was just a matter of how many would be scored.
The fourth, finished by Milner, was at the end of an Arsenal-like passing move.
Cleverley again played behind the striker and he showed he could ‘pass and move’ (time will tell if he can do more than that) plus both full backs exploited the ample space down the flanks.
But Moldova provided weak opposition so its hard to draw too many conclusions from this England performance as more difficult tests are to come.
I stood along the side with the locals, rather than behind the goal, and was able to exit quickly, grab a taxi and get back to my hotel before midnight for a couple of beers.
8th September Hellas Verona 2 Reggina 0 Serie B 14,647 (50 away)
Bus and then shared taxi (total cost 25p) to the airport in Chisinau for an Air Moldova flight to Venice and then a train to Verona.
This was a re-visit to the stadium where I saw Belgium beat South Korea in Italia 90.
The ground does not seemed to have changed much during the intervening years.
I sat in the second level with the two tiers above housing most of the fans - the home ultras to my right and the sparse numbers of away fans to the left.
The home side went ahead in the ninth minute when some defensive confusion allowed Laner to shoot in from close range.
Hellas clinched the win early in the second period when they were given a dubious looking penalty from which Gomez Taleb scored.
As seem often to be the case going two down (maybe even one down) in Italy means the losing side does not come back - and so it was.
Hellas were generally comfortable and never really looked in danger.
9th September Spezia 3 Brescia 1 Serie B 7,520 (300 away)
The train journey from Verona down to La Spezia takes around 5 hours with a stop in Milan.
Once you get to the region its clear this is a popular tourist area with the nearby ‘Cinque Terre’ (five villages) being a World Heritage Site.
So the tourist office is busy.
As was the Stadio Alberto Picco especially with the local side rising to the higher reaches of Serie B.
The ground has statues at the entrance and an attractive old main stand with open terraces at either end.
Brescia brought a lively group of ultras and they were noisy enough until the match turned towards the home side in the second half.
By then the home fans enjoyed baiting the visitors as Spezia had scored via a generous penalty and a second from striker Sansovini.
Earlier Brescia had looked dangerous with Swede Mitrovic and Caracciolo up front but the late first half equaliser from Sansovini readied the home side for a more forceful second period.
Outside, as I dodged around the scooters, I heard the locals mention Serie A and the Champions League - that would be some progression if it happened as Spezia were bankrupt in 2008.
On a warm evening in Liguria I settled down afterwards for an escalope and some vino rosso.
More pics at http://www.photobox.co.uk/album/1455119336