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“The Beast” Baptista earns Roma win at Bordeaux

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 1 Oct 2008

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Julio “The Beast” Baptista hit two goals in AS Roma's 3-1 Champions win at 10-man Bordeaux on Wednesday, leaving hapless coach Laurent Blanc with two defeats, seven goals conceded and bottom spot in Group A.

Both teams were looking for consolation after losing their opening two matches – Bordeaux being thrashed 4-0 by Chelsea and AS Roma beaten 2-1 at home by Romanians CFR Cluj two weeks ago.

However Bordeaux's chances of victory were badly harmed when Brazilian defender Henrique was sent-off in the first-half.

Roma coach Luciano Spalletti said the result was a fair one. “In my opinion, we deserved the victory,” he said. “We didn't play that well for the first hour while Bordeaux were playing good football and they even scared us a bit.

“Bordeaux had had the initiative till our first goal but that gave us courage and enthusiasm and we played better and were stronger mentally. I think Henrique's sending off did not change anything as Bordeaux played well for the next half hour till the goal.”

And on their chances of going through, Spalletti added: “After Cluj's draw with Chelsea, the group is wide open but it will be difficult to qualify.”

Blanc fielded a lone striker in Marouane Chamakh at the expense of Fernando Cavenaghi, plus there was Mathieu Valverde in goal for the injured Ulrich Rame.

A five-man midfield with Yoan Gourcuff, plus exciting left-sided 19-year-old Gabriel Obertan and Jussie coming in, ahead of Alou Diarra and Fernando, looked set to be a major weapon for Bordeaux.

Spalletti made just one change from weekend Italian league action, bringing in midfielder Daniele De Rossi for Matteo Brighi, but significantly their talismanic playmaker Francesco Totti was absent.

Gourcuff, who arrived on loan from from AC Milan during the summer break, showed what an inspired addition he is to the team this season with a cracker of an opening goal in the 18th minute.

Set up on the edge of the box by Jussie, Gourcuff gave himself space before a rasping right foot shot into the side netting beyond Roma keeper Doni's left hand.

Without Totti, Roma looked short on ideas going forward which augured well for Bordeaux, who controlled the match in the middle of the first half without being spectacular.

Bordeaux had a shock in the 36th minute however when Brazilian centre back Henrique was sent off for a harmless looking swing of his arm, presumably considered to be a wayward elbow, putting Bordeaux down to 10 men.

Blanc immediately took off youngster Obertan and Jussie, bringing on Marc Planus and Brazilian midfielder Wendel, presumably in tactical changes to balance out his 10-man formation.

With conditions getting colder in the second half and rain starting to fall, the situation was hardly making for a match well-appreciated by football purists.

Spalletti then made changes for attacking punch, bringing on two strikers in Baptista and Stefano Okaka Chuka for just one striker and a midfielder in Jeremy Menez and Alberto Aquilani.

A minute after Okaka Chuka came on, Roma had equalised. From a corner on the left, striker Mirko Vucinic of Montenegro, beat out Bordeaux defender Souleymane Diawara, to head home at the near post.

Diawara looked to be gesturing angrily following the goal but from the replays it appeared he only had himself to blame.

With weather conditions getting continually worse, it was Bordeaux who looked to be suffering the most as Roma took the initiative by going forward again and again.

From a freekick in the 71st minute, Baptista hit Roma's second goal, leaving a possibly unsighted keeper Valverde rooted to the spot.

In a superb final spell for former Real Madrid and Arsenal player Baptista, he found the net a second time, for Roma's third goal, in the 83rd minute after a cross by Rodrigo Taddei.

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