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AZ find form as Middlesbrough fume

Published: Monday 24 October 2005, 4.15CET
Group D:AZ Alkmaar recorded an impressive win on Sunday but may lose the services of a key player while Middlesbrough FC lost narrowly. features

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Published: Monday 24 October 2005, 4.15CET

AZ find form as Middlesbrough fume

Group D:AZ Alkmaar recorded an impressive win on Sunday but may lose the services of a key player while Middlesbrough FC lost narrowly.
There were mixed results for the five sides in UEFA Cup Group D on Sunday as only AZ Alkmaar recorded a victory, but that joy was tempered by an injury to a key player. Middlesbrough FC lost narrowly and controversially, while Grasshopper-Club bowed out of the Swiss Cup unexpectedly early. PFC Litex Lovech and FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk were both held to goalless draws, Dnipro's result prompting coach Evgeniy Kucherevskiy to step down.

West Ham United FC 2-1 Middlesbrough FC

Steve McClaren's side suffered their fourth Premiership defeat of the season, falling to a 2-1 loss at West Ham. The visitors began brightly at Upton Park, but were forced to reorganise in the 25th minute as captain Gareth Southgate sustained a head injury after a collision with Yossi Benayoun and was replaced by Franck Queudrue. It was a West Ham substitute who made the biggest impact, however, Teddy Sheringham opening the scoring in the 65th minute with his first touch 48 seconds after his introduction. Middlesbrough fell two behind eight minutes later as Chris Riggott's sliced clearance from Paul Konchesky's free-kick was adjudged to have crossed the line by assistant referee Ralph Bone despite television replays suggesting goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer had stopped it in front of goal. Queudrue headed a late consolation from a corner.

"We feel very hard done by," said McClaren, who made four changes from the side that won in Zurich on Thursday with Matthew Bates replacing Stuart Parnaby, who has a groin injury while, in addition to his cut head, Southgate is also struggling with a groin problem. "We did enough in terms of work and effort to have taken something from that game. One bad decision has cost us, but credit to my players, they showed great tenacity and stuck in there. Overall I know we can play much better, there is much more to come."

FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 0-0 FC Metalist Kharkiv

Dnipro dropped to 14th place in the Ukrainian Premier League table after being held to a goalless draw at home against Metalist, a result that prompted the resignation of coach Kucherevskiy. Dnipro fielded the same lineup that lost 2-1 at home to AZ on Thursday, but were unable to find a winner in an uneventful encounter.

"I spoke to Kucherevskiy after his resignation was accepted - he asked me to finish the job we were doing together," said Vadim Tyschenko, an Olympic champion with the Soviet Union in 1988 who has been promoted from Kucherevskiy's assistant to temporary replacement. "The club officials think the same way. I understand that Dnipro need a famous coach who is capable of getting the club back on course, but I and the players will do everything to protect our pride."

PFC Botev Plovdiv 0-0 PFC Litex Lovech

Litex continued their poor away domestic form after managing just a goalless draw at Botev. Ljupko Petrovic's men went closest to scoring in the 74th minute, when French defender Jean-Philippe Caillet missed a penalty, his second spot-kick failure of the season.

Litex coach Petrovic, whose side are seventh in the Bulgarian Premier League and without an away win all season, was missing only Kostadin Hazurov, who will be out until next year with a broken leg, and was critical of his side's display. "I am glad only for the performances of Caillet, Sandrinho, [Alejandro Enrique] Cichero and [Nebojša] Jelenković," said the Litex coach. "The others just had an off-day."

FC Winterthur 4-2 Grasshopper-Club

Grasshoppers surprisingly bowed out of the Swiss Cup in the round of 32, losing 4-2 at Challenge League side Winterthur on Sunday. Grasshoppers began sluggishly and trailed 2-0 by the 24th minute thanks to two goals from Patrick Bengondo but the visitors, without the injured Leandro, André Muff and Gerardo Seoane and the suspended Igors Stepanovs, battled back before half-time, with Rogerio striking twice in five minutes. Against the odds, however, Winterthur regained the advantage in the second period, Bengondo and Pascal Renfer striking in the 56th and 61st minutes respectively to complete a notable victory.

"A team that has ambitions needs to win here," said Grasshoppers coach Hanspeter Latour. "There's not much more to say. Of course, all of our guys were tired from the Middlesbrough match but this is not a reason to lose here. It's a step back, we wanted to do well in this competition."

AZ Alkmaar 5-1 Willem II 5-1

AZ climbed to second in the Dutch Eredivisie with an emphatic win against Willem II, but Dutch international defender Barry Opdam faces a lengthy lay-off with a potentially serious knee injury. Tarik Sektioui – who was later forced off by a rib injury – opened the scoring in the fourth minute only for Kemy Augustien to equalise 13 minutes later. The decisive moment arrived five minutes before half-time as former AZ goalkeeper Oscar Moens brought down Barry van Galen and was sent off, Denny Landzaat duly converting the resulting penalty. Second-half goals from Kenneth Perez, Martijn Meerdink and Gretar Steinsson wrapped up the win, although AZ finished the match with ten men as, having used as their substitutes, Opdam had to be carried off after sustaining a knee injury in a collision with Kevin Bobson.

"After a good first 15 minutes our attack completed faded and Willem II came back very strongly," said AZ coach Louis van Gaal. "After the red card for Moens and the penalty the match was effectively over, although we were very bad in making use of the extra man. Everyone went on doing his own thing, there was no teamwork anymore. This will give us something to talk about in the next few days."

Last updated: 24/10/05 15.11CET

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