You play an understrength team and you’ll get an understrength performance. I’ve said it before and it’s still true. Rubin Kazan deservedly came out on top in this one even if the deciding goal was very avoidable. If it hadn’t been for a fine exhibition of reflex keeping from Cudicini then finishing top of the group would be out of our hands, now though, if we pile on the goals against PAOK and in Dublin we still stand a good chance of leapfrogging the Russians.
Eleven changes from Sunday tells its own story. There was some composed tippy tappy possession play in midfield but little penetration in their third where Defoe was mostly anonymous and Pavlyuchenko asleep in the shop window. Falque needs a touch too much, Townsend and Fredericks aren’t full backs at this level, Livermore needs to be much more careful with his passing whilst Carroll is still a work in progress and also still in need of a pie and a pint.
The scoreline makes the game seem closer than it was. We created a few openings but never tested the keeper whilst at the other end it was Cudicini pinball for long periods.
It’s the first ‘proper’ defeat of the season for the cup team. There’ll be more though if they don’t get any added bite up front.
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