Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Toni could be the decisive factor in UEFA semi-final says Bayern´s Hitzfeld

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 24 Apr 2008


Bayern Munich coach Ottmar Hitzfeld is hoping the return of Italian World Cup winner Luca Toni will be the decisive factor in next week’s UEFA Cup semi-final, second-leg tie in St Petersburg.

Bayern were held 1-1 by Zenit St Petersburg at the Allianz Arena in Thursday night’s first-leg and the Bundesliga league leaders now face a mountain to climb after conceding an away goal.

The home side took the lead when French midfielder Franck Ribery converted an 18th minute penalty, but the Russians went level on 60 minutes when Brazilian defender Lucio headed the ball into his own net.

Munich were without suspended Italian striker Toni for the first leg and with 10 UEFA Cup goals this season – and 35 in all competitions – the towering Italian could well make the difference in Russia on May 1.

Just like at the same stage in their quarter-final, Bayern now have to score in the second leg just to stay in the competition.

“We still have a good chance,” said Hitzfeld, “we still have plenty to play for and we will have Luca Toni back for next week’s game.

“In the first half, we played at a high tempo and put some good passages of play together, but after the break we were too defensive and we let Zenit into the game.

“They started to become dangerous and in the last half hour we had the chances to go 2-1 ahead. The own goal was unfortunate, but we just have to work hard next week.”

The Russian champions blasted Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals and their Dutch coach Dick Advocaat was pleased with the first leg.

But with four yellow cards against his side, Advocaat will have several of his squad suspended for the return leg.

“It was good to get the away goal, but we still have to work hard over the next 90 minutes,” said former Ranger boss Advocaat. “Before the penalty there was a foul by Ze Roberto.

“In the replay we will have several players missing through supension and that is a big difference to make up.”


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