Poli - Steaua 2:0 (1:0)

Rusic, Abiodun and Karamyan celebrating the first goal! (www.prosport.ro)

You can rarely see a performance as devoted and determined as today's performance of Poli was. It's truly amazing when you start thinking about it and realize that except for Aliuta and Rusic, the first eleven players sent on the pitch by Uhrin had been at Poli for many months before the Czech's arrival. But that's what an amazing manager can do to a team's spirit and for that, there are no words to express the level of gratitude Uhrin has warranted for the work he has done in Timisoara.

The match itself started well for the white-violets, who totally controlled the first quarter of an hour - twenty minutes. The first important scoring chance belonged to Rusic in the second minute, when his shot was blocked by Zapata. Poli continued to mount the pressure and the inevitable occurred perhaps earlier than one would have expected: in the 12th minute, Bucur crossed the ball from the left and found a completely unmarked Rusic, who had enough time to stop the ball and then smash it into Zapata's goal! It was 1-0 and the beginning of story with a happy end - and a great happy end to it, if I may say so. Steaua slowly but surely came back into the game and had two goals disallowed - correctly - after they had headered in following two corner kicks. Their biggest chance of the match belonged to Nicolita, who got rid of Canu and was alone against Popa, but our goalie managed to do enough to defuse the threat! As a matter of fact, this was the only scoring opportunity Steaua had which did not come following a set-piece.
Today's opponents kept on pressuring our goal in the second half, but it was Rusic who came close to scoring again: Aliuta sent a perfect through pass, Rusic shot at goal, yet it was Zapata who had the last word, saving with a good reflex. Most of Steaua's attacking tries ended with long passes towards their forwards or with crosses into the penalty area, but Canu and McKain (Poli's central defenders) were in top form tonight and cleared well almost every time. Dorel Zaharia came close to equalising when his header hit the post, but that was basically the last significant chance Steaua had for the night. When four more of extra-time were left to be played, Mansour - just sent on the pitch - scored an amazing goal, volleying the ball with a side-ways bicycle kick! It was the perfect goal to round up an excellent performance which earned the team not only the first victory over Steaua in eleven years at home, but also the second spot in the standings.

To the foreign players now:
Rusic seems to have recovered from his dry streak and although he could have (and should have) scored one more time, his performance remains commendable. McKain's precise game in defense proved once more that the club management should try their best to keep the Australian at Poli and convince him to sign a new contract. His former team-mate at FC National, Abiodun, worked hard throughout the ninety minutes, as did Artavazd Karamyan, and the former's performance was crowned with his assist for Mansour's goal! The Senegalese striker on the other hand can only leave you wondering why the heck he can score the most gorgeous of goals, but can't finish the easiest of chances.

So much for success tonight! In closing to a great evening after which all the players as well as Dusan Uhrin deserve many congrats, here are the ratings and a link to today's goals:

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

You watch the match highlights at prosport.ro.

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