Craiova - Poli 2:1 (1:0)

A loss is always heavy if you aim at anything but drifting in the uninteresting part of the league table, but it's even heavier when it comes in a match against the second last team, over whom you had a one man advantage for twenty minutes.

The match could've started differently than it did, as Artavazd Karamyan missed a great chance in the first few minutes of the game. Poli kept pressuring, but at the first chance the home side got, they scored, as Costea went past McKain a finished the move off with a well placed shot. Our team didn't lessen the pressure, and Bucur came close to scoring as his header went over the bar, while the same Karamyan hit the post before half-time.
The second half started on the same note, but Poli's domination didn't amount to any actual scoring opportunities - surely, the terrible pitch conditions and Rusic's hideous form had their role to play. In the end though, the efforts seemed to pay off, as Barboianu was sent off for an ugly foul against Bucur, just before Bucur managed to score a splendid goal from outside the penalty area to bring the scores level! The happiness (if it can be called so) was short lived though, because Australian striker Michael Baird put the home side back in front a few minutes later, with a well placed header following a Wobay free-kick. Poli could've still pegged back, but Cristea failed to place his header on target and the match ended in a disappointing loss.

As I've already mentioned, Rusic's performance of the day was dismaying, as the Slovenian loss a lot of good balls and barely put together any useful passes. Artavazd Karamyan played well, but he could've and should've scored at his opportunity in the fourth minute, as well as at his one on one against Bornescu. His brother made his debut for Poli in the league, but Arman did nothing worth noting, except perhaps sending a weak header at Bornescu's goal. McKain had a decent day, although his slip-up at the first goal cost us dearly, but he kept well composed throughout the rest of the match. Perhaps the only pleasant surprise was Abiodun's performance, as the Nigerian did very well as a defensive midfielder, although that is not his natural playing position.

Of course, the loss today isn't a tragedy, as the team is still on target as far as its objectives are concerned, but the same weak spots keep plaguing an otherwise solid first eleven at Poli: the defense and the 2nd striker. Surely, if all goes well in the next round against Steaua, today's mis-step will be forgotten, but that "if" is a hell of a long word.

Poli: Popa (5) - Dancia (5,5), McKain (5,5), Radoi (5,5), Stancu (4,5) - Artavazd Karamyan (5,5), Abiodun (6), Aliuta (5,5), Torje (5) - Bucur (6), Rusic (4,5) with Arman Karamyan (5), Cristea (5) and Mansour coming on for Aliuta, Bucur and Torje.

Watch today's goals here.


Vrsic back in January

According to the club's official website, Dare Vrsic is recovering well from his injury and should return to the team on time for the winter practice.


Dinamo - Poli 1:1 (1:1)

Another excellent result in the battle for European Qualification against champions Dinamo keeps the team on the right track and it also sends a definitive message: we're in The Zone!

Uhrin's first team set-up had a glitch in it, but except for Aliuta, all the players sent on the pitch in the first eleven were up for a real struggle of character. Sadly enough it seems that the former Romanian international is not capable of facing the challenge of playing top football against top teams.

The match itself was quite well balanced, especially in the first half, and it presented itself with few scoring opportunities. Bucur might have had a chance to test Lobont early on, but he was wrongly flagged as offside. Without much to show for it, Dinamo managed to score first, as Cristea's fantastic shot from outside the penalty area soared towards the top right corner of Popa's goal. A few minutes later, a Niculescu shot from the edge of the area was well kept out by our goalie, before Torje came on to replace the lackluster Aliuta. It was Torje's effort which laid the foundation for Canu's cross: the U21 international was fouled on the right flank just before half-time; Karamyan took the free-kick and our central defender put the head on it just enough to force Lobont concede!

The latter forty five minutes were a bit more dramatic than the first. Not a lot happened until the 60th minute, when Alexa saw a justified second yellow card and was sent off, leaving Poli with one man less and the perspective of 30 minutes of defending. Immediately after his dismissal, ref Hategan could have decided to point at the spot, as Canu hand balled in the penalty area; it seems that he was showed a bit by an opponent, so the ref's decision of letting play go on seems to have been correct. Danciulescu managed to get loose of the Poli defenders a while after that, but his shot missed the target, while Ropotan's long distance shot hit the post, but not without a deflection from a team-mate who was offside. As in the match against CFR Cluj, the last minute saw a dangerous corner-kick for Dinamo causing panic in our defense, and only Abiodun's double save off the line kept the score locked to 1-1. It was however enough and Poli managed a good match, proving capable of reaching for the stars this year.

Of the foreigners, except for Rusic, all had a very good day. The Slovenian struggled a lot, but he was slow and lost quite a number of good balls. Central defender Jonathan McKain was excellent in claiming most long balls and his solid performance - corrborated with Canu's similar play - ensured a solid defense (for a change!). Artavazd Karamyan might have sent a few stray balls before his perfect free-kick found Canu, but in light of his strenuous effort, all is forgotten. The more surprising performance of the match was Abiodun's, who not only showed good composure and determination, but also proved to be the decisive man at the right place in the last minute assault on Poli's goal. To be frank though, the whole team is worthy of a warm-hearted "congrats!".

This week's matches against Craiova and Steaua may be crucial, but for now we can rest assured that Dusan Uhrin is doing his job. There's no need of a better assurance.

Poli: Popa (6) - Dancia (6), McKain (6,5), Canu (7), Stancu (6) - Karamyan (6), Alexa (4,5), Aliuta (5), Abiodun (6,5) - Bucur (5), Rusic (5,5) with Torje (6), Mansour and Radoi coming on for Aliuta, Bucur and Karamyan.

See Dinamo's goal here, Poli's goal here and Abiodun's saves here.


Poli - Otelul 4:1 (2:1)

I'm not sure if I've ever come across a match that can boast so many defensive mistakes as the one from this evening, and especially at this level! Unfortunately I could not watch the game, thanks to the oh-so-friendly people at ligaonline.ro, who decided they won't show it. So here's what happened as far as it is detailed on other websites.

Poli played quite poorly in the first half and the white-violets didn't manage one shot on goal in thirty minutes - only the near misses of McKain and Rusic are worthy of any mention. Then, in tune with the way in which the match was being played, Otelul scored, thanks to an Ilie cross and a Stan finish. It looked as if Poli would have a tough job in coming back this time. However, just a few minutes later, an amazing own-goal changed the state of things: Sergiu Costin sent a long, high pass back to the goalie (Valentin Bors) from past the half-way line and the oh-so brilliant Bors decided to try and stop the ball on his knee, which he did not quite manage and as such, it was 1-1. As if this wasn't bad enough, in the 40th minute Bors did it again: he picked up a ball sent back by one of his own players. The consequent indirect free-kick taken by Karamyan was converted by McKain, who easily headed it into goal.
Otelul changed the goalkeeper at half-time, but the Lithuanian Grybauskas was not much better than his team-mate. Poli profited off the deflated morale of their opponents and scored again in the 60th minute, when Karamyan put a good finish to Abiodun's excellent through pass. Ten minutes later, thanks to Grybauskas' placement error, the same ever-present Karamyan hit a corner kick which curled high and over the goalie, ending up in the net, thereby making it 4-1. The last twenty minutes could have only turned matters worse for the away side, but Torje, Rusic, Stancu and Srhoj were imprecise in their finishing and spared whatever was left of Otelul's dignity.

No ratings from me today, but I'll put them on once I've seen the match. Obviously, Karamyan had a brilliant day, while both McKain and Abiodun played well too. Rusic was more of a danger in the first half and he'll probably be sad not to have scored against a defense as bad as this one.

Poli are at the top of the league until tomorrow's match between Unirea Urziceni and CFR Cluj, so we might as well enjoy the feeling as long as it lasts. The squad's true test of character will take place in the weeks to come, when Poli will play both Dinamo and Steaua.

You can watch the goals at ProSport, as usual. The amazing own goal can be found at GSP, but unfortunately it seems to have surprised even the camera crew.


Friendly: Poli - Banat Zrenjanin 1:1 (1:1)

Today's friendly against FK Banat, the sixth placed team in the Serbian first league, ended in a draw thanks to Arman Karamyan's goal and the several good chances wasted by Cristea, Ganea and Mansour. Not a lot else to say, as I haven't seen the match.

International Report

It's been a good day for Poli's players who are away on international duty.


Artavazd Karamyan played ninety minutes for Armenia in their 0-0 draw at home against Serbia.

Dejan Rusic came on in the 62nd minute for Slovenia and received a yellow card ten minutes later. Slovenia also drew 0-0.

Marius Popa remained on the bench as Romania beat Holland 1-0 at home.

Sebastian Petrus played for Romania U19 in their humiliating defeats against England and Belgium, 0-6 and 0-4.

Arthur Patras played and made an assist in Moldova U21's victory against Luxemburg.


Gabriel Torje, Iasmin Latovlevici and Cristian Scutaru (on loan at FCM Resita) played well in today's encounter between Romania U21 and France U21 (0-0).

Arthur Patras played in Moldova U21's 0-3 defeat away against Germany U21.


U Cluj - Poli 1:2 (1:1)

It wasn't an easy win - few wins are ever easy - but it was a deserved win against Universitatea Cluj. The goals were scored by Sorin Radoi and Gigel Bucur - first, after a Karamyan corner, and second after a Radoi cross. You can check them out here.

I can't say much more about the match, seeing how I only managed to get quick glimpses at it. I'll post some ratings later on, but I don't know when exactly. As far as I can tell, Rusic didn't have a great day, McKain played well, Abiodun came on for Torje but did little in the time he was on the pitch, Srhoj came on in the last few minutes and Artavazd Karamyan was in good shape throughout the match.

It's certain though that this was in invaluable win, as it kept us close to the top of the league. Poli's game is still sketchy at times and the defense continues to cause everyone involved headaches, but as long as the results keep coming, it isn't all that tragic.

Here are the promised ratings:

Popa (6,5) - Dancia (6), McKain (6), Canu (4,5), Radoi (7) - Karamyan (6), Alexa (6,5) , Aliuta (6), Torje (5,5) - Rusic (5), Bucur (6) with Mansour (5), Abiodun (5,5) and Srhoj being sent on the pitch during the match, substituting Rusic, Torje and Bucur.



My next post will only come some time next week and I'm not sure I'll be able to put down a decent match report - problems with the internet connection.

As long as we win on Saturday, it shouldn't really be something to make anyone worry.


Rusic called up to the Slovenian National squad!

Politehnica's official website announced today that thanks to his fine performances at Poli, Dejan Rusic earned a new call-up to the Slovenian National side.

Rusic was happy for the call-up, but he said that he wishes Vrsic could have also been there with him.