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Low Countries on a high

Published: Friday 24 October 2003, 0.02CET
The Belgian and Dutch press had much to savour on Thursday, but it was a different story in Italy.

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Published: Friday 24 October 2003, 0.02CET

Low Countries on a high

The Belgian and Dutch press had much to savour on Thursday, but it was a different story in Italy.
It was a week to savour for Belgian and Dutch teams in the UEFA Champions League and leading the celebrations were Club Brugge KV following their 1-0 victory at European champions AC Milan.

Brugge praised
Het Laatste Nieuws said the Group H success, secured by Peruvian striker Andrés Mendoza's goal, would boost the "self-confidence of a smaller club, who now know it is not impossible to beat a European giant with a good and clever tactics".

'Back in business'
RSC Anderlecht's 1-0 win against Celtic FC 24 hours earlier - a result achieved despite the early dismissal of Glen De Boeck - prompted Het Nieuwsblad to declare: "Anderlecht are back in business." The paper highlighted the performance of defender Vincent Kompany with the headline "Kompany can sign for 20 years" - a reference to chairman Roger Vanden Stock's admiring comments about the 17-year-old.

Zlatan's magic moment
That praise paled alongside Volkskrant's headline commending matchwinner Zlatan Ibrahimovic's contribution to the 1-0 defeat of RC Celta de Vigo: "Zlatan, son of god". The paper talked of a "moment of genius" from the talented Swede which sent Ajax top of Group H and reflected: "A team's technical staff can analyse things as much as they want, but it still is on moments of the street that a match is decided."

Measured reaction
PSV Eindhoven, meanwhile, kept their hopes alive by beating AEK Athens FC but Algemeen Dagblad considered it "more likely that AEK have fallen behind in a direct battle for third place and UEFA Cup football".

'Battleship Juventus'
From the Low Countries to Italy where Corriere dello Sport commended "Battleship Juventus" on their 4-2 win over Real Sociedad de Fútbol on Tuesday. "Wonderful" was Gazzetta dello Sport's conclusion after Juve's third consecutive victory and Tuttosport noted that "only in 1996, when they won the Champions League, have they made a similar start".

'Inter humbled'
Otherwise, it was an unhappy week for the Italians. "[Massimo] Moratti and Inter humbled" was Tuttosport's reaction to Internazionale FC's 3-0 defeat at FC Lokomotiv Moskva in their first match without Héctor Cúper. Gazzetta, meanwhile, considered Milan "tired and confused" against Brugge, while "the 'wrong' Italians" - namely Claudio Ranieri and Carlo Cudicini - celebrated a "deserved win" as Chelsea FC beat S.S. Lazio.

Praise for Pantic
"A stroll" was Marca's assessment of Group F leaders Real Madrid CF's 1-0 win against FK Partizan. AS spoke of a "victory in first gear", observing: "Raúl [González] scored in an offside position and [Djordje] Pantic stopped everything else." Pantic, the Partizan goalkeeper, earned applause from the Belgrade press for an impressive showing on his European debut, Sportski zurnal declaring: "Pantic the king."

Royal audience
Another Spanish side, RC Deportivo La Coruña, top Group C after beating AS Monaco FC. AS cited both the performance of the veteran Fran González and the presence of royalty with the headline "Prince Fran", adding: "Deportivo recorded a gritty win in front of Alberto and Rainier."

'Hammer blow'
Monaco's defeat was not the only setback for French sides, as Olympique de Marseille suffered what L'Equipe called a "hammer blow" with their 3-2 home loss against FC Porto. For Portugal's Record, the result showed Porto were "a team of European calibre".

Mixed fortunes
There were mixed fortunes for Turkey's representatives as Hürriyet toasted Galatasaray SK's first win of the competition - "Galatasaray renew hopes" - but rued Besiktas JK's defeat at AC Sparta Praha. "Besiktas did not deserve this," its headline ran.

'Breathless'
Staying in the east and "Breathless" was the summary of FC Dynamo Kyiv's success against Arsenal FC in the Ukrainian daily Komanda, which put them level with Inter at the top of Group B. "Dynamo were better than highly rated Arsenal for 65 minutes," it said, before warning that "if we are to succeed in London, more rational football needs to be played".

Passion play
Still, the back pages in England at least had a Manchester United FC victory to report today. "United ride out passion play" was the headline in the Guardian's report of the 1-0 win at Rangers FC. The Scottish Daily Record argued "United do it the hard way", but for the Daily Telegraph it was more straightforward: "This was too cold an evening to break sweat and Manchester United scarcely had to against a limited Rangers side at ice-station Ibrox."

Last updated: 24/10/03 10.07CET

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