Poli - Vaslui 0:1 (0:1)

With Magera suspended for yellow cards and Kozak suffering an injury during training last week, Sabău had a hard choice to make among all the rest of the available players, each being as unsure as the next. He decided to go with Curtean on the left side, and Mansour to form the offensive duo with Goga.

Poli started well, building up the game, with Vaslui trying their chances on the counter. First sign of danger was a shot that fell on the net. Then in the 12th minute, after a long pass, the broad-shouldered Costly made his ball well in front of the defense, Taborda came out only to draw the ref's attention, and it was 0-1.

Poli's players got quite fired up, but good for them they cooled down and tried to open up Vaslui's defense. Unfortunately, the opponents decided to close the game completely, buying time, and our players weren't very inspired. First chance came from a distance shot from Bourceanu in the 29th minute. Less than 10 minutes later, Pavlovici brought Goga down close to the box. He received the second yellow card and Sepsi's free kick swerved very close to the bar.

The second half looked to be easily dominated by Poli, which indeed happened, but they outdid each other in frustrating misses, and despite having the one-man advantage, the game ended in a loss. First, Mansour's pass would come back off a defender, but despite the good position, his shot would fly over the post.

A decisive moment was a penalty given after Sânmărtean played the ball with his hand in the box. After the last match, when Goga's shot met the post before going in off the keeper, this time, the striker decided to drive it down the middle. Kuciak dived short and was able to kick it off the line.

The game died down again, with Poli unable to be truly dangerous, unable to drive the ball to the middle of the box. Parks and Ionescu's entrances would change this a bit. But first, Taborda had to be on his feet to stop Wesley's free kick. Then, in the 80th minute, Parks received a cross from Sepsi on the 16 meter line but his volley landed on the top post. Shots flew wide again from Parks and Bonfim, probably because of the hard terrain. In the 89th minute, the same Parks entered the box on the left to find Alexa run up free in the middle, but his shot landed straight into Kuciak's hands.

A hard day, when the ball just wouldn't go in, with Poli missing a lot and wasting almost a dozen(!) corner kicks, which were either caught by Kuciak or headed away by the tall defense.

The defense can't be blamed, Nibombe and Taborda being there when it was needed. Bonfim seems to be seen good again by Sabău, forming a good duo with Contra. Mansour was unfortunately on a bad day again, missing some shots, but some passes as well. Like I said, Parks improved the game a bit, but he too had some off-moments. The best man for Poli was Sepsi, who once again proved he is on an ascending form.

Fortunately, we are just 4 points behind, there still is hope, but we must achieve the maximum from the next few games against weaker teams. At least to consolidate our position among the qualifying spots.

Poli: Taborda (6) - Bonfim (6), Luchin (6), Nibombe (6), Sepsi (6,5) - Contra (6), Alexa (5,5), Bourceanu (5), Curtean (5) - Mansour (4,5), Goga (5)


Parks (5) for Bourceanu (min 45)
Chiţu (5) for Curtean (min 59)
Ionescu (5) for Contra (min 67)


Astra Ploieşti - Poli 1:3 (1:2)

With all other top teams (except Rapid) scoring wins, it was very important for us to win as well. A very tough challenge, considering our opponents haven't lost a single game on their home turf, since after the first match of the championship. That, and Astra have stopped some of the good teams, most recently winning a Rapid last stage. Not to mention the 0-0 draw against us and our Cup elimination on penalties with 2-2 after extra time.

Probably, one of the hardest match of this stage. But the violets started excellently and after 10 minutes it was already 2-0. First, in the second minute, Chițu provided a good cross, Goga with the deflection and Magera appears at the far post to put it in. Then, after a corner kick, one of the defenders stops Nibombe's header with his hand and the referee offers a penalty. Goga's strike hits the bar but rebounds off the goalkeeper and into the net.

Unfortunately, the players lost their concentration very quickly and let Astra become dangerous. It was only the 18th minute when our slow central defenders - Mera and Nibombe - were found at least two meters behind the attackers. Taborda came out of the box to slide at the feet of Astra's player, who had made the ball to the left. Free kick and yellow card for our goalie. Liviu Ganea, their star striker, borrowed from Dinamo, executed the free kick, low, to the far post. Taborda was baffled and had no reaction as the balled went past him.

Poli had a try 2 minutes later, but Magera's running shot lacked the power. After that, Astra started to dominate the game, their fast players going past our defenders too easily, especially Nibombe, who in the 36th minute brought down Strătilă in the box. Liviu Ganea executed, but this time his strategy didn't work, and the shot was poor enough for Taborda to grab hold of it. Fortunately, Astra's incursions weren't fruitful, except for Diego Silva's shot and Strătilă's lobbed volley, which went inches past the post.

Right before the 45 minute mark, Mera was following a ball alongside Liviu Ganea, but being slower, blocked him with his arm. The referee showed him the second yellow card and was sent off. This might, in fact, have been good for Poli, as in the second half the team was more compact. And with Contra coming in for Chiacu (who's performance was appaling), little team Astra faced a mature and more experienced team.

Indeed, the second half was much less interesting that the first one, Astra not having almost any chances, despite having a one man advantage. Poli played well, keeping the pressing up, and Goga's persistance gave us two chances. First, he ended with a poor shot, right in the hands of the goalkeeper. But in the 88th minute, after a pass from Magera, he went through two defenders, flipped the goalie and pushed into the empty goal, securing our win.

After Bonfim came in, the duo with Contra created some danger on the right side, although towards the end they were more concerned with keeping the ball than creating opportunities. Another big chance came from a free kick on the left side, played short to Sepsi, who swerved into the box and blasted it into the short corner, but the goalkeeper was on target.

All in all, a deserved, hard-worked win, and congratulations to the players for showing the necessary spirit. Unfortunately, from now on all games have to be played for the win.

Poli: Taborda (6) - Luchin (6), Mera (3), Nibombe (4), Sepsi (6,5) - Chiacu (5), Bourceanu (5,5), Kozak (5), Chiţu (5,5) - Magera (6), Goga (7)


Contra (6) for Chiacu (min 45)
Bonfim (5,5) for Kozak (min 58)
Parks for Chiţu (min 71)


Poli - Unirea Alba Iulia 6:0 (3:0)

With the last-placed team as visitors, this match didn't look to be a problem for the violets, and, indeed, they delighted the audience with another 6-0 win.

Goga had the first chance in the 4th minute, but wast too kind with the opposing goalkeeper. The game stumbled a bit for 15 minutes, but Goga had another shot, deflected by the keeper, and Kozák's volley hit the ground before plunging into the net, marking the Slovak's first goal for Poli. In the 25th minute, Magera finalized a very good cross from Sepsi, before scoring the double, only 6 minutes later after a corner-kick from Kozák .

In the second half, the players didn't step back, with Mera scoring the fourth goal, after another corner from Kozák. Magera was substituted by Mansour, eager to score a goal in front of the fans, after so much time. First, a poor finish after a good engagement from Kozák. But, not letting his spirit down, after a good pass from Contra, he found Goga inside the box, who put it past Cernea once again. Alba Iulia had their opportunity, but Taborda was right there to do his job. And in the end, Mansour would score the final goal, after a personal run on the left side.

Lots of people to congratulate. First of all Kozák and Magera did an excellent job and were probably the most dangerous people on the field. Sepsi is starting to feel better and better, and this match also meant the debut for Fuchs, who has been promoted from the junior team that won the championship last year. Well done!

It is a good win for morale, but seeing that the top 7 teams are withing 2 points of each other, means that we have to do a great match against Astra. And it's not going to be easy, as lots teams struggled against them, not to mention our elimination from the Cup.

Poli: Taborda (6) - Bonfim (6), Nibombe (6), Mera (6,5), Sepsi (7) - Parks (5,5), Alexa (6), Kozak (7), Mejia (5,5) - Goga (6,5), Magera (7)

Contra (6) for Bonfim (min 45)
Mansour (6,5) for Magera (min 57)
Fuchs (6) for Kozak (min 68)


Poli - Urziceni 0:0

It took me a while to get here (Andrei's absence being, thus, more than obvious), but I'm here now and I'll do a short recap of Sunday's match.

Poli and Unirea played good football, even if the scoring opportunities were few and in between - particularly in the first half. The referee proved to be the more controversial figure of the day, as he refused two penalties - one for each side - and came to some dubious decisions at more mundane moments of the match.

Unirea had two good chances to begin with, after a free-kick and the following corner kick, but Taborda confirmed he deserves the first eleven spot and made two essential saves. The away side went on to control the match for about twenty minutes, before the tides started to turn. Bourceanu signalled Poli's intentions with a long range shot, before a very strong move on the left, lead by Chitu, allowed the midfielder to cross, but Goga couldn't finish from an excellent position.

The second-half was more entertaining than the first, with the white-violets constantly sampling their determination and their desire to win. After Luchin made a long and seemingly useless run, he forced a corner-kick off the Unirea goalkeeper and the two most important scoring opportunities of the match followed: first, Mera headed the ball towards the top corner, but the goalkeeper made was well positioned to manage the save for another corner-kick, and then Goga volleyed the ball with power, but the goalie was once more at the right place with impressive reflexes.

When one of Unirea's players ran into Taborda's raised foot, the away side were looking to receive a penalty, despite the obvious case, which was that it was a rash run by the striker in a situation wherein he had no chance of challenging for the ball. Just a couple of minutes later, the linesman signalled a clear handball in the Unirea penalty area, but Mr. Kovacs decided, "for" his better judgement, to ignore it. Despite the tension, little else happened unitl the final whistle, which sealed a match that, like so many others, could've gone our way, with a bit of luck.

Poli: Taborda (6,5) - Luchin (6,5), Mera (6), Nibombe (6), Sepsi (6) - Chiacu (5,5), Alexa (6,5), Bourceanu (5), Chitu (6) - Goga (6), Parks (6)


Contra (6) for Chiacu (min 45)
Magera (5,5) for Parks (min 67)
Mejia for Chiţu (min 77)


Rapid - Poli 1:0 (1:0)

Sometimes playing good just isn't enough. You need to play smart and actually take advantage of the opportunities you create. The scene last night was Poli controlling much of the match, but Rapid scoring a one-in-a-million goal from one of the few chances they had, all set in a snow covered field, just barely cleaned before the start of the match.

Despite the conditions, the game had good pace, with Poli trying to make their way right from the start. Sepsi had a first great shot in the 5th minute, which just scratched the post after being slightly deflected. Rapid came back into the game, but they only had one opportunity, the one from which they scored the only goal of the match. While everybody was waiting for Spadacio to shoot from a 35-meter free kick, he instead pushed the ball to Matic, who drove it diagonally right into the corner of the posts.

Poli tried to equalise, with Parks pushing into the box, but being reluctant to give the ball away or his teammates were unable to be at the best place to push it in. In the second half, Sabău raised the stakes by sending Contra in, but the performance from the last match wasn't to be repeated. Mansour's comeback was a flop, perhaps he was a bit afraid of the bad state of the pitch.

Rapid proved to be more dangerous, but only because Poli marched into attack, lowering the guards a bit. Still, they only had three chances - shot wide from Spadacio, a lob which almost caught Taborda unprepared, and a wasted opportunity from Varga, who, found in a good position in the box, only managed a weak shot.

Poli had a lot more chances, but as the game drew to the an end, they were getting more erratic, instead of more dangerous. Alexa started the show, with Chiacu wasting the most opportunities - whether shots from outside the box, or a weak header from 12 meters. Mansour escaped on a clear run for goal, but fumbled it. And many shots from all players and positions, but they were either a bit wide, or blocked by Bornescu. Goga was more involved than previous matches, but still didn't manage a good execution like last week.

Sepsi was one of the best on the pitch - sturdy in defense, but also contributed to the attack, putting a couple of shots on goal as well. Sabău's starting lineup was a bit of a surprise. Pantilimon had a slight injury at the national team, so Taborda was sent it for safety. He did a good job. There was nothing he could do to stop the goal. Bonfim also had to skip this match, and Luchin was moved in his place, leaving Mera and Nibombe in the centre. Overall, the defense played well, with no big mistakes. Chițu debuted for Poli in the championship and also did a good job.

There really isn't anything to blame on the players or the coach, other than the lack of composure shown in front of goal. It was one of those matches that brings out what is beautiful in football and we could talk endlessly on all that was this match, but we have to prepare for Unirea's visit next week.

Poli: Taborda (6) - Sepsi (6), Nibombe (6), Mera (6), Luchin (6) - Chiţu (5,5), Bourceanu (5,5), Alexa (6), Chiacu (5) - Parks (5,5), Goga (5)


Contra (6) for Chiţu (min 55)
Mansour (4,5) for Parks (min 65)
Kozak for Luchin (min 72)


Cociș to play for Poli this season

Poli has officially anounced that Răzvan Cociș was brought to play until the end of this season with a possibility of continuing afterwards. The 27 year-old was raised by Universitatea Cluj before being bought by Sheriff Tiraspol and Lokomotiv Moscow after that. He has played 12 times for the U21 national team, and capped 32 times for Romania's big team. He normally plays offensive midfielder, but can also play on the flanks and even up-front. Probably Sabău will use him on the left, where we are still lacking after Karamyan's departure. Cociș has come free of contract and is still suffering from an arm injury, having to wear a cast. But he can still train with the team, and will probably be able to play in at most a month.

Poli - Poli Iaşi 2:1 (0:1)

Poli started the first home game of the year with ambition and determination. But the slow defense was overwhelmed by a series of fast counter-attacks in the beginning of the game. Poli Iași has strengthened itself with some players from other teams, which proved to be very dangerous.

Coming after a 2-1 win against Rapid Bucharest, Iași found themselves leading 1-0 in the 9th minute. Our defense was to far in front and slow to step back. These counter-attacks plagued us all night, being their only means of being dangerous.

After the goal, Poli played the same, trying different approaches to the opposing goal. Unlike the previous match, this time Parks was the servant and it suited him better, his incurssions from the sides finding his teammates in suitable positions, but they were unable to score. Goga and Chiacu were the culprits. Indeed, Chiacu was moved from left to right and in front of goal, perhaps in an attempt to confuse the adversaries. Luchin tried a header and Parks was unable to finalize a good pass in the middle of the box, instead being blocked by two defenders.

The second half brought forth a hero in the person of Cosmin Contra. The 34 year old redebuted for Poli after 5 years and showed an ambition far superior to his teammates. This animated the game, even captain Alexa had to keep up with Contra. It was only right that he was the one to score the equaliser, with a 30 meter free kick in the 57th minute. The game died down a bit, with Poli struggling to find solutions, even Mera (central defender!) found himself in attack. Iași had another good shot, but Panti stretched to push the ball away from the near post.

The referee offered a generous 5 minutes of overtime, but the game was looking to end in a 1-1 draw. However, a fan decided to take matters into his own hands, jumped on the pitch, took a football, covered the whole length of the field and pushed it into the goal. Goga followed the example and in the very last second, took the opportunity, swept himself to the center of the field, and elegantly shot the ball past the goalkeeper, from around 20 meters. An otherwise blank appearance the whole night, Goga made himself the hero of this hard-worked win.

The result gives us hope, placing us on the second place, tied with Steaua and Urziceni, and 3 points from Cluj. But the play is worrying, because much tougher games are ahead. Mejía is not yet the wonderkid we expect, Kozák needs to integrate, and the problems from the first game are still there.

Still, it's a new team, which has a lot more ahead, so we have to wait for the next games.

Poli: Pantilimon (5) - Sepsi (5), Luchin (5,5), Mera (5,5), Bonfim (5) - Kozák (5,5), Alexa (6), Bourceanu (6), Chiacu (5) - Parks (5,5), Goga (6)


Mejía (5) for Chiacu (min 45)
Contra (7) for Kozák (min 53)
Curtean (5) for Parks (min 74