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Ranieri not angry at Chelsea shock

Published: Friday 4 October 2002, 19.00CET
Claudio Ranieri defended his Chelsea FC players after their UEFA Cup exit on a day Yugoslavian and Cypriot teams impressed.
Published: Friday 4 October 2002, 19.00CET

Ranieri not angry at Chelsea shock

Claudio Ranieri defended his Chelsea FC players after their UEFA Cup exit on a day Yugoslavian and Cypriot teams impressed.

Chelsea FC manager Claudio Ranieri defended his players after their third consecutive first-round UEFA Cup exit on a day which also saw good results for Yugoslavian and Cypriot teams.

Viking joy
Norway's Viking FK followed FC St. Gallen and Hapoel Tev-Aviv in beating the London club, a 4-2 home win giving them a 5-4 aggregate victory, thanks to Erik Nevland's late winner.

'Not angry'
However, Ranieri said: "I am not angry with my defenders. They are young, we had to make too many changes and they were not in the best condition. I am very happy with the performance of my players. Of course I am not happy because we conceded four goals and that is strange for Chelsea."

Toasting success
Viking coach Benny Lennartsson was modest in claiming Chelsea's scalp. "Losing to a Norwegian team is nothing to be proud of," he said. "If you score four goals when you play a team like Chelsea then you must be satisfied, and I shall go home and open a very good bottle of red wine tonight."

Belgrade double
Two sides from Yugoslavian capital Belgrade pulled off impressive results. Former European champions FK Crvena Zvezda won 2-0 at Serie A side AC Chievo Verona having drawn 0-0 at home, while FK Partizan needed two late goals to beat Sporting Clube de Portugal 6-4 on aggregate with a 3-3 home draw behind closed doors between two teams that met in the first-ever European Champion Clubs' Cup fixture in 1955.

'Totally outplayed'
Partizan coach Tumbakovic admitted his side scraped through, saying: "I hope everyone understands how bad Partizan played tonight. It was only all right in the final 15 minutes and luck was with us. There are two reasons for such a performance. Firstly, I had seven key players injured and secondly, the fantastic Sporting team who totally outplayed us."

APOEL record
Cyprus have two sides in Tuesday's second-round draw - more than Scotland or the Netherlands, and the same as France and Italy. APOEL Nicosia FC drew 1-1 at Grazer AK to win 3-1 overall and continue their best-ever European run, having already beaten FC Flora and NK Maribor in the UEFA Champions League before narrowly departing to AEK Athens.

Comeback kings
Meanwwhile, Anorthosis Famagusta FC completed the comeback of the night against Iraklis FC. The Greek side led 4-2 from the first leg, but lost the return 3-1 for their third consecutive defeat by Cypriot opposition, Panayotis Xiourouppas scoring the decisive away goal eight minutes from time.

Eight for Bremen
The biggest aggregate win of the round was shared by FC Girondins de Bordeaux and Celtic FC, who both completed 10-1 victories. Bordeaux, overcame ŠKM Púchov 4-1 in their away second leg, while Celtic won 2-0 at FK Suduva, the night's biggest scoring feat being achievement by SV Werder Bremen, 8-0 victors against FC Metalurh Donetsk.

German quartet
Bremen are one of four German sides in the second round, along with Hertha BSC Berlin, FC Schalke 04 and VfB Stuttgart. That feat is matched, impressively, by the Czech Republic, with FC Slovan Liberec, AC Sparta Praha, SK Slavia Praha and FK Viktoria Zizkov, as well as, despite Chelsea's shock exit, by England, thanks to Leeds United AFC, Blackburn Rovers FC, Fulham FC and first division Ipswich Town FC, the only Fair Play entrants still in the competition.

Intertoto success
Stuttgart and Fulham were also part of a clean sweep of UEFA Intertoto Cup 'winners' to continue to take full advantage of their UEFA Cup reward, Málaga CF the third side to progress, with a narrow 1-0 aggregate win against NK Željeznicar.

Last updated: 04/10/02 18.20CET

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