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Spurs, AC Milan need UEFA Cup reprieve

SoccerNews in UEFA Europa League 18 Sep 2008


Premier League tailenders Tottenham host Polish unknowns Wisla Krakow in the UEFA Cup on Thursday, with under-fire boss Juande Ramos knowing only a convincing win will appease weary fans.

The London club has got off to a dismal start in England's top flight, with one point from four games, including two home defeats to Sunderland and Monday's 2-1 humbling by Aston Villa.

That performance against Martin O'Neill's men was met with boos from Spurs supporters angry with the departures of Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov and the stalling starts of new stars David Bentley and Luka Modric.

But Darren Bent – whose goal against Chelsea earned Tottenham their only point so far – said the game against Wisla Krakow was an opportunity to get back on a winning streak.

“We need to pull ourselves up from this and just keep going. Even after their second goal, we kept going until the end, but it wasn't meant to be,” Bent told the club's website on Tuesday.

“We've got another game on Thursday to put things right. If it was a case of us not creating chances, then we could start to worry. But we are creating things and we just need to keep believing.

“Europe makes a nice change from the Premier League and we did well in the UEFA Cup last year, so we'll be hoping to go a step further this time. But the league is our bread and butter and we need to start winning.”

Another team desperately in need of a win are Italian giants AC Milan, who take on Switzerland's FC Zurich at home on Thursday.

The seven-time European champions, with superstars Kaka, Ronaldinho and Andriy Shevchenko, lost 2-0 at Genoa on Sunday, a result that leaves them sitting an unbelievable second bottom of Serie A.

Under-pressure Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti would have hoped to avoid a potentially tricky tie against the organised Swiss team, who will stifle their rivals' creative spark.

Milan's general manager Adriano Galliani issued a bald warning to Ancelotti after the club's worst league start since 1986, saying: “He doesn't risk the sack, but he'd better stop losing.”

Ancelotti's task will be made all the worse with news that midfielder Andrea Pirlo has been ruled out of the match with a thigh injury.

A man used to such managerial pressure is former England coach Steve McClaren, whose new Dutch club FC Twente travel to French side Rennes.

The Dutch were taught a lesson by Arsenal in a recent Champions League qualifier, but McClaren only took positive things from the 6-0 aggregate drubbing.

“We got a lot of experience from that game which will make us a better side against Rennes in the UEFA,” he said on Tuesday.

FC Twente stumbled to a 1-1 draw against NEC at the weekend while Rennes were held to a similar result against Le Havre.

Motherwell will also travel to France to play Nancy nursing the bruises from a 4-2 hammering against Scottish Premier League champions Celtic on Saturday.

Former Celtic bete noire, ex-Rangers manager Paul Le Guen, appears to have turned things around at Paris Saint Germain in time for their trip to unheralded Turkish side Kayserispor.

The Paris side – winners of the now defunct Cup Winners Cup in 1996 – have endured a torrid time of late but sit third in the league thanks to a penalty from new boy Mateja Kezman which saw them defeat Nantes on Sunday.


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