UTA - Poli 2:3 (1:2)

You have to adore these victories against arch-rivals! They always bring back memories you wish you'd have forgotten. At 2-2, immediately after half-time (after Poli was 2-0 up in the 12th minute), my thoughts drifted (violently) towards a match from a few years back, when Poli had scored in the first minute and was 1-0 up. By half-time, the score had become 2-0 and things seemed rather done and over. But then UTA came back and managed to draw again, before Poli scored one more to make it 3-2. I vividly remember jolting up from my seat when UTA equalized again and swearing my lungs out, walking up the stairs in order to leave the stadium. And while I was leaving, they scored again and it was 3-4, with me feeling as if I had awoken that morning into a horrid nightmare.

Well, yesterday's match was about as good of a revenge as they get. Bucur's quickfire double in the 4th and 12th minutes gave everyone the impression the match would be a walk in the park, but errors from Poli's defence increased the confidence level of the home team. While Popa was on form, it proved insufficient, as Ratiu decided it might as well have been his day off, and after a misunderstanding with the goalie, a rebound found Todea at the edge of the area with an empty goal - and he didn't miss. Poli managed to hold on to the result until half-time, especially due to a great Popa save, but as soon as the second half started, a counter-attack found Baltoi in the area, who slotted the ball. UTA could have then scored two or three more, but their inability to convert and obsession to the dive in the penalty box lead to no change whatsoever. On the other side, Poli had two important scoring opportunities, but Karamyan's shot hit the post and someone's (hmmm) finish from the right was saved off the line by a defender. Then, in the 80th minute, Latovlevici showed Varga in the box at what was the only real obstruction in the area against UTA, but referee Serea - probably sick of all the dives - decided to wave away the protests.
And now comes the sweet part of revenge: newly transferred Rusic came on five minutes before time and tried "bulldozering" his way through the Arad defence, serving Bucur with a nifty pass in the area while pressured by three UTA defenders, but the day's goalscoarer was off-side. Then, in the 90th minute, a quick counter by Poli and a divine pass from the same Rusic found Bucur free of all defenders and as he raged towards Hutan's goal I was on my knees praying to whoever was listening, just before starting an obnoxiously loud yell of outrageous joy, when the ball passed the Arad goalie and ended up into the net! The beauty of it all is what makes football worth living for.

Still, there's a lot left to do, especially in terms of defending. Hopefully Canu's and McKain's returns will make things more secure at the back, but there's still a question of who should play on the left. Neither Dancia, nor Latovlevici are that exciting. Up forward though, things seem to have just gotten better, as Poli announced the signing of 24-year old Halenar, from Artmedia Bratislava, who can boast with a hattrick against Celtic and 52 goals in 163 matches.

Of the foreign players who came on against UTA, no one was really impressive (except for the short-lived Rusic). Karamyan had a rather bad day with few achievements - but even that isn't too bad, considering his usual "output level" - , Abiodun came on in the second half and did little, Srhoj managed to somewhat strengthened the defense when he replaced Luchin, and Vrsic just didn't really get his game going yet - at all.

So here are the majestic 14: Popa (6,5) - Latovlevici (5), Luchin (5), Ratiu (5), Stancu (5,5) - Karamyan (6), Alexa (6), Vrsic (5), Torje (5,5) - Mansour (5), Bucur (8,5); Srhoj (6) replaced Luchin, Abiodun (5,5) replaced Torje and Rusic replaced Mansour.

P.S. Halenar's transfer seems far from resolved. Truly, Sadly, Deeply.

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