Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Czech Republic, San Marino & italy September 2015

Two Euro 2016 qualifiers in the Czech Republic and San Marino plus a Serie B game.

Shock - Skoda achieves overtaking.

3rd September   Czech Republic 2 Kazakhstan 1  Plzen  10, 572

I travelled to Prague then on by train to Plzen for this Euro qualifier between bottom team Kazakhstan and the second-placed Czechs.

Beforehand we celebrated the achievements of the recently deceased Josef Masopust, a star from the 1962 World Cup.
But, for those watching on, there was no sign of players of his quality in this match.

In fact for quite a lot of the time the home side struggled to overcome a moderate Kazak team.
And they even went behind to a first half header from Logvinenko.
The whistles from the crowd indicated their disappointment

However eventually, with the help of a judicious substitution, the tide turned towards the home side.
Coach Pavel Vrba brought on Slavia Prague striker Milan Skoda after the break and he later got on the end of two crosses to seal the win.

The Czechs would join surprise finalists Iceland in France next year but it is hard to see them causing much of a stir amongst the favoured teams.

The rain had stopped as I walked back to my hotel by 11pm and I had a glass of red wine before bed.

Rooney saved for Wembley celebration.

5th September  San Marino 0 England 6   4,378 (2,500 away)

From Plzen via Munich and Innsbruck through the mountains to Verona for a stopover.
Where I settle for some wine and a pizza near to the main stadium.

The next morning I took the train via Bologna to Rimini - the base of many other England fans.

It was a comfortable enough 30 minute ride by bus across to San Marino.
And, in pleasant weather, it was a more interesting than normal encounter with a team that would probably struggle in the English (non-league) National league.

More interesting because of seeing whether captain Wayne Rooney would break Bobby Charlton’s national goalscoring record.
He certainly got an early chance after a disputed penalty was awarded.
Our man stayed cool and slotted it home to draw level with Bobby.

San Marino later contributed an own goal to give England a two goal first half advantage.

Given acres of space in which to work midfielder Jonjo Shelvey was doing his best Andrea Pirlo impression.
Whether he will look so good against serious opposition is yet to be determined.

Anyway soon after the interval it was 3-0 as Ross Barkley converted an Oxlade-Chamberlain right wing cross.
Substitutes Theo Walcott (with two) and Harry Kane (a neat chip) made it 6-0 - about ‘par’ I think.

Intriguingly coach Hodgson had taken off the aforementioned Rooney on 59 minutes saving his record-breaking goal, presumably, for the more auspicious surroundings of Wembley.
No doubt it would also help the FA with shifting more tickets.

Once over we rushed to get the bus back to Rimini, the earlier, 6pm, kick-off enabling many to
make a large contribution to the local (bar) economy.

Ferrari comes second.

6th September  Pro Vercelli 2 Virtus Lanciano 1  Serie B   2,776 (c. 40 away)

For me an early Sunday train across to Bologna, then Milan and on towards Turin and Vercelli.
On the way I see the tifosi travelling to Monza for the F1 race.

Indeed they could have gone to the Silvio Piola stadium to see a Ferrari.
Nicola would get the second half equaliser for the visitors.

But it would not be enough as, when I was thinking a draw looked likely, sub. Castiglia popped up to head in a left wing cross for the winner with about ten minutes remaining.

Before that we watched a fairly cautious first period that was suddenly enlivened by a great run and shot by twenty year old Massimiliano Gatto on 42 minutes.
That gave ‘Pro’, a historic team with Italian league titles from way back in the 1900’s,  the lead and calmed the crowd who had been upset by some of the decisions (plus ca change)

Lanciano’s cause was not helped by a red card, after a silly handball, for Armin Bacinovic in the second half.
That probably contributed to their eventual loss.

My bed & breakfast was nearby in the historic centre (the small ground is nicely central with apartments overlooking the small stands) and I returned there to watch the Italy match.

Prior to that, like many, I enjoyed a drink in the Piazza Cavour before having a pizza.
As they might say - when in Vercelli...

The next day I fly back to London with the motor racing fans.

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