Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

European soccer action heating up

Matchday eight of the European Champions League got of to a flying start yesterday with Leeds United pulling off a shock 1-0 victory in Rome against Lazio.

Twenty-year-old striker Alan Smith scored the only goal of the match in the 80th minute following a clever flick on from fellow striker Mark Viduka. Leeds central defenders Jonathan Woodgate and Lucas Radebe were in fine form neutralizing Lazio’s $70 million strike force of Marcelo Salas and Hernan Crespo.

Lazio manager Sven-Goran Eriksson could now very well be out as team boss following its recent poor showings. The defending Serie A champions have no points to show for their first two Champions League matches and have struggled recently in Serie A. Just last month Eriksson signed on to become the new England manager once his contract runs out in June, but that move may now be pushed ahead if Eriksson is indeed fired.

In other Champions League action, Bayern Munich overcame a two-goal deficit in London to secure a 2-2 draw with Arsenal. Goals from Bayern midfielders Michael Tarnat and Mehmet Scholl cancelled out a fourth minute strike from Thierry Henry and an early second half strike from the Nigerian, Kanu. Both teams played much better than they had on Matchday seven, but were unable to pull out the victory.

Defending European Cup winners Real Madrid eased past Anderlecht 4-1 in Spain while Lyon jumped out to a 3-0 halftime lead over Spartak Moscow and held on to win by the same score line.

Matchday eight rounds itself out tomorrow with another quartet of matches across Europe. Last year’s runners-up Valencia travel to Greece to take on Panathinaikos, Deportivo la Coruna takes on AC Milan, while Galatasaray play host to Paris St. Germain. In the final game, Manchester United will travel to Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadion in Austria to take on Sturm Graz.

* United manager Alex Ferguson will have midfielder Ryan Giggs available after recovering from a hamstring injury. Giggs played the final 17 minutes of United’s 2-0 win over Tottenham on Saturday and now looks set to make his first start since November.

* Belgium’s greatest international player over the past two decades has been forced to retire from professional soccer due to chronic osteoarthritis of the hip. Enzo Scifo was a stylish center midfielder who collected 84 caps and scored 18 goals for his country. Scifo, Belgium’s Player of the Year in 1984, spent most of his career playing abroad with clubs such as Inter Milan and Monaco before returning to his homeland in 1997 when he signed with Anderlecht. For the past week Scifo has served as the stand-in coach at his local club Charleroi in the Belgian first division.

* Over in England, former England National Team coach Terry Venables has signed on as a coach with Premiership strugglers Middlesborough. Venables, who led England to a semi-final appearance at Euro ’96, has agreed to join his friend and current ‘Boro boss Bryan Robson for the next six months in order to try and save the club from possible relegation. Venables will oversee team selection but Robson will still be in charge of Middlesborough’s transfer dealings.

* Just to the north in Scotland, defending champions Glasgow Rangers now look set to mount a serious for the title against arch rivals and current league leaders Celtic. The Rangers looked dead and buried just two weeks ago but the signing of Tore Andre Flo form Chelsea and a pair of league victories, including a 5-1 demolition of Celtic, has breathed new life into the club.

The only thing that looks like it could stop Rangers right now would be a lack of players. Both Arthur Numan and American Claudio Reyna were sent off in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Hearts and look set to miss a substantial amount of time. Joining them on the sidelines will be Dutch midfielder Giovanni van Bronckhorst. The hard-working midfielder has been out of action with a groin injury since October and is still a ways away from a return.

Justin Pearson is a Collegian columnist.

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