RC: Astra Ploiesti - Poli 8:7 (2:2, 1:1, 1:1)

The white-violets narrowly lost out yesterday in the Romanian Cup, despite having numerous opportunities to win the match. Astra scored first through Miranda, as Parks equalized in the 20th minute. The Costa Rica forward should've scored when one on one against the Astra goalie, but his finishing was a poor as always. The home side was stronger in the second half, but Poli could have won the game, either through Chiacu, who copied Parks in how to miss a huge opportunity, or through Curtean, who wasn't able to scored from less than ten meters in the 90th minute.

It was hard for Poli in extra-time, as Borbely was sent off toward the end of the second half, and Astra took full advantage by scoring in the 93rd minute. The white-violets had a bit of a miracle up their sleeves, as Chitu and Vrsic were at the right place to take advantage of a ball fumbled by the otherwise impecable Astra goalie, with the Slovenian equalizing. Not much happened until the end of extra-time so the match went to penalties.

Both goalies did well, with Taborda saving two shots and Miron saving three, while one player from each time sent the ball wide. For Poli, Vrsic, Stancu, Magera, Maxim and Luchin scored, while Curtean, Chiacu, Chitu and Mera missed. Had either Chiacu or Chitu scored, then Poli would've won the match. But as things were, it wasn't enough and Astra are through to the next round.

Match highlights here.

Poli: Taborda (5) - Maxim (5), Luchin (5,5), Brezinsky (5,5), Stancu (5) - Chitu (6), Ionescu (5), Borbely (3), Curtean (4) - Magera (5,5), Parks (6)


Vrsici (6) for Ionescu (min 65)
Mera (5,5) for Brezinsky (min 70)
Chiacu (4,5) for Parks (min 75)


CFR Cluj - Poli 0:0

Here's the first (of, hopefully, many) match reports brought to you by my new blog aid Andrei. Definitely more useful than my latest efforts. Enjoy!

Unsurprisingly, Sabău decided to once again play it safe, this time in stage XI's derby match against CFR Cluj. Knowing that the losing team would be left behind in the championship run, both opponents concentrated on defense. This, however, resulted in a lack of quality, personal errors, many lost balls changing possession midfield, but also individual struggles and duels, all within the limits of fair-play.

The first half was quite balanced, none of the teams having clear chances, except maybe one or two incursions from the speedy Gigel Bucur. Like Thursday's game against Anderlecht, Sabău introduced the same defensive trio - Scutaru, Mera, Nibombe - perhaps not confident enough on the first two, with Cisovsky's absence looking to be prolonged.

In the second part however, Cluj stepped up a bit, clearly dominating our side and had the best chances to score, through long-distance shots (Muresan) and fumbled corner kicks, where the defense didn't manage to clear the ball. Poli's tactics were on the verge of being shattered, when after one such situation, Alcantara blasted the ball from inside the box, but Pantilimon was on one of his great nights, making an incredible save, despite everybody else being sure of the goal.

The match balanced out again, after Traore was sent off for a second yellow card. However, Poli did not have enough courage or inspiration to take advantage of the situation, and beside a few somewhat dangerous long passes and wide shots, there was no clear scoring opportunity. No risks were taken, Parks entered the pitch only to take Bucur's place and the game ended in an undecisive nil-nil. The two teams remained tied for the top spot, but Poli's reputation as having the best defense in the championship gives them advantage on goal difference. However, hard matches are coming next, while Cluj has a (relatively) easy November ahead.

Nibombe played sturdy in defense, and while still showing a few of his weaknesses, gave confidence to his younger, less experienced partners. The Armenian twins played the whole match together. Artiom didn't show signs of being tired, running front and back, engaging in hard duels and showing good motivation. His crosses, unfortunately, are still lacking. His brother, Arman, didn't count enough to make a difference, but the relationship between the two produced a few interesting situations. Brazilian Bonfim once again showed why he makes the team, giving a good fight, and showing his good technique. One of the best players on field. Vrsici was given only 20 minutes to play, and could only be seen in one interception and a shot gone wide.

There are many good and many bad things to be said about the team's play, but what is important is that we are in first place and perhaps more important, that the team and the coach seek to improve for the upcoming matches, which will be decisive, at least for the winter break.

Poli: Pantilimon (7) - Mera (6), Nibombe (6), Scutaru (6) - Bonfim (6,5), Alexa (6), Bourceanu (5,5), Art. Karamyan (6,5) - Chiacu (5), Bucur (5,5), Arm. Karamyan (6)


Vrsici (5) for Alexa (min 70)
Parks for Bucur (min 82)


Poli - Anderlecht 0:0

Thursday's match ended in a fair draw against the Belgians of Anderlecht, although the white-violets would've very much needed a victory to keep their qualification hopes alive. There were chances on both sides, with Karamyan forcing Proto to make a couple of saves, while Panti was busy particularly in the second half.

It's hard to say what should be expected of the remaining matches. Up to now, this year's participation in European competitions was a bit of a roller coaster ride, with the lack of fans on the stadium (due to both poor marketing and stupid UEFA match scheduling) being the main disappointment. At least, I hope, we can end on a high.

Match highlights here.

Poli: Pantilimon - Mera, Nibombe, Scutaru - Bonfim, Alexa, Bourceanu, Art. Karamyan - Goga, Bucur, Arm. Karamian


Curtean for Arm. Karamyan (min 75)
Parks for Bucur (min 76)
Magera for Alexa (min 81)


Poli - Ceahlaul 6:0 (2:0)

Football can be easy, when everything is in place. An instant opener, in the first minute of the match, which turned into a quickfire double three minutes later and no worries left in the world.

Magera opened the score with a great lob, before he assisted Chiacu for the second. The Czech international scored again at the beginning of the second half, missed a couple of one on ones later on, before Alexa and Bonfim aided Goga to a double. Magera insisted on staying in the limelight, as he offered another brilliant pass to Chiacu in the 90th minute, to call it game, set, match.

A really enjoyable night in Timisoara, despite the freezing weather, and hopefully something to build on in view of the upcoming three super-matches (Anderlecht, CFR Cluj and Steaua). It's clear we'll need a determined performance to take the most out of the three matches.

You can find the goals by looking through the fanatik archive.

Poli: Pantilimon (6) - Maxim (5), Nibombe (6), Scutaru (5,5), Bonfim (6) - Curtean (5), Vrsic (6), Bourceanu (5,5), Chiacu (7) - Goga (6,5), Magera (8)


Art. Karamyan (6,5) for Curtean (min 45)
Alexa (6,5) for Bourceanu (min 60)
Stancu (5,5) for Maxim (min 64)


International Curtea de Arges - Poli 0:3 (0:0)

It took the white-violets forty-five minutes to get going, during which Inter came close to opening the score, but once they did, it was an easy match. The Karamyan brothers were key in today's win, as they were the source of all three goals. Goga scored first, after an Arman cross, Bucur made it two thanks to a cross from Artiom and Artiom crossed into the penalty area before the ball reached Arman, who smashed it into the net. It wasn't a particularly reassuring win, but a highly needed one, which should, hopefully, lead the way toward a better series of results.

Poli: Pantilimon (6,5) - Bonfim (6), Scutaru (5), Nibombe (6), Art. Karamyan (6,5) - Chiacu (6), Vrsic (5,5), Bourceanu (6), Arm. Karamyan (6,5) - Goga (6), Bucur (5,5)


Alexa (6) for Vrsic (min 69)
Parks for Bucur (min 79)
Magera for Goga (min 80)


Poli - Dinamo Zagreb 0:3 (0:1)

A disastrous result, thanks to an uninspired starting eleven and a bunch of defensive blunders, coupled with about the same amount of missed opportunities. There's really nothing I'd want to say, just that nobody played up to the team's standards today and times will be tough in the following weeks unless Poli wins the next couple of matches.

Poli: Pantilimon (4,5) - Bonfim (4,5), Mera (4), Nibombe (3,5), Art. Karamyan (5) - Arm. Karamyan (4,5), Goga (4), Alexa (5), Ionescu (5), Curtean (4) - Bucur (4)


Parks (4,5) for Arm. Karamyan (min 45)
Bourceanu (4,5) for Ionescu (min 55)
Magera (4,5) for Curtean (min 69)