UEFA Cup, third round first leg
Good results for the two Spanish sides who played in the UEFA cup on Thursday evening. Villarreal survived a difficult visit to Dynamo Kiev, coming away with a 0-0 draw which gives them the edge for the return match next week. The Spaniards mastered the cold, snowy conditions, and could have scored early on when Figueroa shot straight at the keeper. But in the end it took a sterling performance by Reina and his defence to keep out the Ukrainian side, who were playing their first competitive match in two months.
Zaragoza are also favourites to make it through to the next round after beating Fenerbahçe 0-1 in Istanbul. Although Víctor Muñoz's defence looked shaky early on, they did enough to block a couple of first half efforts from the Turkish side's new signing Nicolas Anelka. And Generelo went close to scoring on two occasions after the break before he picked up a Savio free kick and set up Alvaro for him to get what was to be the only goal of the game twenty minutes from the end. (17.02.05)
Valencia got off to a good start in defence of their title, Claudio Ranieri's side running out 2-0 winners against Steaua Bucharest in their first leg tie. The manager put out an aggressive line up and it paid off when Di Vaio (who had hit the post a few minutes earlier) finished off after Caneira played on Fiore's corner shortly before the break. And Aimar added a second with a well struck free kick just a few minutes in to the second half to take a commanding lead to Romania next week.
Not such good news though for Sevilla, who were beaten 1-0 by Panathinaikos earlier in the evening. Despite putting out a strong side the Andalusians hardly created a chance all night, and Esteban had to be at his best to keep out the Greek forwards in the first half. But a quarter of an hour from the end Vintra found the net following a corner, and Sevilla now have to win by two clear goals in the return leg to be sure of going through.
The match between Austria Vienna and Athletic Bilbao was postponed due to a heavy snowfall. Despite the best efforts of 100 ground staff the pitch proved to be unplayable, and the game has been rescheduled for next Thursday, the day the second leg was due to take place. It appears that the return leg will now be played three days later on Sunday 27th February, with Athletic's league game against Getafe postponed to around 23rd March. (16.02.05)