Amoroso proves his worth

BV Borussia Dortmund have long defended their enigmatic Brazilian striker Marcio Amoroso.

BV Borussia Dortmund have been busy defending their enigmatic Brazilian striker Marcio Amoroso and last night he showed Europe exactly why he has received such support.

Breathing flames
Cold some days and hot the next, Amoroso breathed flames at the Westfalenstadion, his first-half hat-trick crowning Dortmund's 4-0 rout of Milan AC in the first leg of their UEFA Cup semi-final. The result, and Amoroso's finishing, have all but guaranteed the German side a place in the 8 May final in Rotterdam.

'A world-class player'
Dortmund coach Matthias Sammer enthused about the player's display in the post-match press conference. "Marcio is a world-class player," he said. "It is world-class to be able to consistently bring on this sort of performance and that's what I'm working with him on."

Scoring charts
Amoroso, joint-leading scorer in the 1. Bundesliga, gave a foretaste of what was to come in the previous round against FC Slovan Liberec. Returning from a suspension brought on by a red card, Amoroso opened the floodgates in Dortmund's home victory - another 4-0 win. Last night, the Brazilian revealed his full potential.

'Winded from the goal'
He confidently wrong-footed Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati in the eighth minute to score his first goal from the penalty spot. Amoroso then ran rings around Martin Laursen, catching the ball deftly on his foot before flicking it over the flat-footed Denmark defender to fire in the second. For his third strike, Amoroso dived in at the far post to head home a cross from compatriot Ewerthon. But did the fiery Brazilian injure himself in his celebrations? "No, he was just a little winded from the goal," said Sammer. "Everything's in order," the Dortmund coach added.

It seems unlikely that Amoroso will be with the Brazilian side at this year's FIFA World Cup as others lie ahead of him in the pecking order. For Dortmund, however, he is invaluable. "It's his unpredictability that impresses," said defender Christian Wörns, denying that this very quality could jeopardise team discipline.

Reminder to Italy
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti was also impressed with Amoroso. "He's a fine attacker as we saw but we did give him too far much room," he said. The 27-year-old striker, previously with Parma AC and Udinese Calcio, served a reminder to Italian football of what they are missing and also of the potential which they failed to tap. In fact, Amoroso did not even make the Parma side that won the 1995 UEFA Cup.

Ancelotti realistic
Amoroso is unlikely to be left out of this season's final, assuming Dortmund complete their task next week. Ancelotti, who was surprised more by his own side's weakness than Dortmund's strength, said Milan had to believe they were still in with a chance, but acknowledged the task was now "very difficult".