Millers make it look easy
Tue, 09 Apr 2013 22:27:00
Ecstatic Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp admitted his side's dramatic win over Malaga in the UEFA Champions League was the best experience of his career.
Dortmund produced one of the greatest comebacks in European Cup history as they scored twice in injury-time to progress to the semi-finals 3-2 on aggregate.
Malaga looked to be heading to the last four thanks to goals from Joaquin and Eliseu, but late replies from Marco Reus and Felipe Santana completed an unlikely comeback.
Asked if he ever seen a game like that before, Klopp told Sky Sports: "No, I wouldn't have. I did wish today I would see this.
"This is one face of football - one very disappointed team in this moment and one lucky team - it was unbelievable.
"We made, I think, our worst game in the Champions League. The first half we showed a bit of nerves - not our best football.
"In the second half we tried a bit better and they were two clever this evening, it was not easy.
"We got the goal and we made it. It is unbelievable what happens in this stadium - it was crazy."
Dortmund's winning goal should have been ruled out for offside with television replays showing Santana was offside when he prodded the ball over the line, but Klopp felt the decision cancelled out Malaga's second goal which replays also showed was offside.
"I heard the second goal too [was offside] and this is very important information," added Klopp.
"Over the two games we are the deserved winner so now everything is OK, but I cannot describe what happened inside me.
"I think I have to go to the doctor, but it was really crazy it was a like a championship, it's not a championship, but it felt like it.
"In the dressing room my assistants and me were looking at each other in shock. We are in the semi-final, nobody could believe who knew us a few years ago. Now it's really crazy but one of the best things I have ever felt."
Asked if his side could go on to win the Champions League, Klopp added: "If we play like tonight, no, but if we play like we have in the Champions League, the passion of tonight we are really hard to play, difficult to play as we will see but now we have got the target and we reached it."
Stephen Foster's injury-time strike had implications at both ends of the table as relegation strugglers Barnsley grabbed a dramatic 1-1 draw at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The home side ended the night six points clear of second-placed Hull but would have expected to win tonight, especially after finally taking the lead just before the hour mark.Defender Ben Turner was the unlikely scorer, guiding Kim Bo-kyung's corner home.
But the Bluebirds were not able to add to that and paid the price in the fifth minute of added time when Foster's deflected leveller ensured a draw.In doing so, he put his side two points clear of the drop zone.
Barnsley's South Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday went one better, stealing a victory moments from the full-time whistle at Millwall.
Nadjim Abdou gave the home side the lead after only two minutes but Wednesday fought back and drew level through Miguel Angel Llera five minutes before half-time.
That looked to be enough for the night until substitute Chris Maguire struck in injury-time at the Den.
Wednesday leapt into 14th place as a result, six points clear of the bottom three, with Millwall one point worse off with a game in hand.
Noble's first goal came totally against the run of play after Rovers had forced the pace in the first half hour without really looking like scoring.
Kyle Bennett hit a fierce volley just wide in the 15th minute and Andy Griffin had a scorching 25-yard strike parried by Mark Gillespie 10 minutes later.
Carlisle had not posed a threat but they went ahead in the 33rd minute when a 25-yard free-kick from Noble took a wicked deflection off the defensive wall and looped over goalkeeper Gary Woods into the net.
Rovers came out for the second half with a renewed sense of urgency and determination, with Bennett hitting an angled shot over the crossbar in the 53rd minute.
Chris Brown had a powerful header brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Gillespie before John Lundstram saw a low 20-yard effort saved a minute later.
Brown was out of luck again when he fired against the woodwork in the 67th minute before Carlisle reasserted themselves in the closing stages.
James Berrett had a shot cleared off the line by Jamie McCombe and Noble clinched the points four minutes later when he lashed home a terrific 20-yard shot following a quick-fire break-away.
They were rewarded for a bright start at Valley Parade on Tuesday night by going 2-0 in front after 21 minutes, both goals being scored by leading scorer Nahki Wells.
The Bermuda international, who had hit the crossbar with a left-foot shot in the first minute, gave City the lead with a close-range header from Garry Thompson's right-wing cross.
Then, after goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin had prevented an equaliser, coming off his line to block a shot from substitute Ollie Clarke in the 13th minute, Wells put Bradford further in front from the penalty spot after Fabian Broghammer tripped Ricky Ravenhill in the box.
McLaughlin had to come to Bradford's rescue again in the 28th minute, keeping out a point-blank header from Tom Hitchcock after Broghammer's cross found him unmarked.
Bradford added a third in first-half stoppage-time with a looping header from defender Andrew Davies after the visitors failed to deal with Gary Jones' free-kick.
Rovers pulled a goal back in the 50th-minute when Tom Hitchcock took advantage of a mistake by Rory McArdle, but Garry Thompson restored Bradford's three-goal advantage eight minutes later after running on to Wells' through pass.
The Hammers currently sit 12th in the table with seven games remaining after gaining promotion back into the Premier League through the npower Championship play-offs last season.
With former Bolton, Newcastle and Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce in charge and a host of experienced and international players amongst their ranks, a lack of big-game knowledge was never going to be the reason if West Ham were relegated.
O'Neil pointed to that collective experience, especially when compared to the likes of last season's Championship winners Reading who are now marooned at the foot of the Premier League, as well as a comfortable start to the season as invaluable.
"We maybe had the edge because we have got a lot of players and the manager and staff who have played and worked in the Premier League before," he said.
"We were only down for a season as well so the lads are used to playing in the PL so we maybe took to it quicker than they did - we also we had a slightly easier run of fixtures at the start that helped us build up some momentum."
After a start that saw West Ham settle well into the top half of the table the Hammers stuttered during a spell after the turn of the year.
But recent victories over Stoke and West Brom, as well as a battling point at Liverpool on Sunday, mean any lingering doubt as to the Hammers' top-flight survival should now have been extinguished and O'Neil wants to finish the campaign strongly.
When asked if the team struggled to re-establish the form shown earlier in the season the former Portsmouth man replied: "I think it took us a little while, it does hit you confidence-wise as a squad.
"Even if you are losing to the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United, it does dent the confidence. It was hard to get another run going but fortunately we've got a little one going now and have picked up seven points from our last four games which is good and can hopefully be added to this weekend.
"We've always said we want to finish as high as we can, we weren't just focusing on avoiding relegation. Our aim was always to finish as high up as possible, we want to get to 40 (points) first to make well and truly sure we are safe but then by no means will we stop there."
The 0-0 draw at Anfield at the weekend saw criticisms aimed at Allardyce's perceived negativity.
But O'Neil reckons every fixture has to be judged on its individual merits.
"It was one of those things," the 29-year-old added.
"We could have gone there and been slightly more attacking, you might come away with three points but the chances are they would have created more than they did. We restricted them really well to very few chances and no clear-cut ones at all really.
"We had Carlton Cole's chance and that was one of the best of the game, they had a lot of possession but chances-wise there wasn't too much in it."
Next up for West Ham is a trip to Southampton, also promoted last season, where a victory at St Mary's would see the Hammers leapfrog their hosts and, if other results fell kindly, could see Allardyce's side return to the top 10.
The fixture was called off on successive days last month due to heavy snow and ice at Windsor Park.
The rival associations have been discussing potential dates, with Russia favouring the June window as they are already playing Portugal on June 7.
Northern Ireland would prefer a different date as their British-based players will have been in their off-season for several weeks by then.
Reports had suggested June 11 had been decided upon, but a spokesman for the IFA said: "No date has been set as yet for the Northern Ireland v Russia game. Discussions are ongoing."
The first half at the New York Stadium belonged to Rotherham and they could not have asked for a better start with a goal after 64 seconds.
Ben Pringle won the ball in the centre circle and raced through the heart of the Exeter defence before planting a low drive wide of Artur Krysiak.
Rotherham nearly had a second after 20 minutes when Krysiak saved bravely under challenge from Alex Revell, but the second goal came eight minutes later from former Exeter forward Daniel Nardiello.
Nardiello broke down the left, took a one-two around the last defender and fired past Krysiak from a tight angle.
Rotherham added the third just two minutes later. A left-wing cross was cleared straight to Michael O'Connor on the edge of the area and he fired home.
At the other end, Rotherham goalkeeper Scott Shearer had just one save to make - a 14th-minute free-kick from Craig Woodman which he pushed away for a corner.
The Millers made it four seven minutes after the break. Craig Morgan got his head to a long free-kick but could not direct it on target, but the ball was kept alive and played back into the area where Morgan lashed it home from close range.
There was some consolation for Exeter after 76 minutes when Danny Coles bundled the ball over the line from Arron Davies' corner, but it was too little, too late for the visitors.