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.