Hello there! Today is the penultimate episode of the Anglo-Italian Cup and we’ll move a step closer to knowing our two qualifiers for the 2020 CM Cup. We sorted out Group A yesterday so now let’s find out who’ll be joining Pescara and Port Vale in the semi-finals.
The semi-finals will see the sides from the same country meet each other, leading to an Anglo-Italian final. Clever, eh? Enough of this preamble. Let’s get on with it.
Verona vs Middlesbrough
The Italian segment of this group is wide open. Unfortunately for Verona, so is the door to their physio room.
Some of them have recovered by the time Middlesbrough turn up but what a set of injuries!
Middlesbrough had their own injury problems last update but they have cleared up now. Merson in the hole is a tactic I can get behind.
Clearly the Boro lads agree. The magic man scores after three minutes and Branca makes it two five minutes later. Beck proves he’s not a loser by making it three, which puts a real dent in Verona’s hopes. Boro march on though.
Reggiana vs Portsmouth
Here are two sides who could do with a win. A defeat for Reggiana would all but eliminate them whereas Portsmouth are playing catch up, with this just their second game.
Nice to see the Christmas Tree out early this year.
The lesser spotted Russell Perrett gives Portsmouth the lead but a double from Simutenkov turns out to be enough for Reggiana.
That puts Portsmouth on the back foot (and by that I mean eliminated) but keeps Reggiana in with a chance.
Portsmouth vs Genoa
We’ll stick with Pompey as they host Genoa. Whitbread is back from injury.
Nikolai is always tinkering with the MW formation. This is the current effort from the current leading Italians.
It looks like being another good day for Nikolai when Giampaolo gives the away side the lead in the first half. Portsmouth are offering little but after half time, they come out with a bee in their bonnet. Harries equalises and in the euphoria, Svensson makes it 2-1. Two goals in four minutes and just as Portsmouth think they’ve turned the group upside down, Morello equalises. Not to worry – Svensson pops up with the winner 10 minutes from time.
Genoa might well feel hard done by. Some quite one sided stats here!
Middlesbrough vs Reggiana
Back to the North East of England where a win for Middlesbrough would put enormous pressure on Sheffield United. Townsend is injured again so Neil Maddison is in.
Reggiana are in with a chance of qualifying if they can spring what would have to be considered an upset here.
The cat is put amongst the pigeons when Clayton Blackmore gets a red card after just two minutes. Robbie Mustoe is good in a crisis and puts Boro ahead, how the brilliantly named Alberico Evani equalises and Taribello lands the killer blow.
That was a big clash and Reggiana are now in with a real chance.
Cagliari vs Portsmouth
Our first sighting of Cagliari today as they host Portsmouth. They’ve got some injury problems but in Muzzi they have one of the best players in the tournament.
This is Portsmouth’s final match of the tournament and they are playing for pride. They are unchanged again.
Cagliari know a win would put them in the thick of things and Banchelli scores the opener to keep their hopes well and truly alive. Portsmouth strike a vital blow on the stroke of half time through the unlikely figure of Andy Awford. That seems to entice Portsmouth and even if they are playing for pride, they still pack a punch and young Australian Paul Harries scores the winner.
And with that, Cagliari are out. Reggiana licking their lips at the moment.
Genoa vs Middlesbrough
Genoa could re-take the initiative in this crunch game with Middlesbrough. Nikolai’s MW formation has potential and this will be a tough test for it.
Townsend is back in the middle of the park, which can only help (for me, Clive).
Sometimes this game makes you scratch your head. Genoa come flying out of the traps and it’s 3-0 inside 20 minutes. It’s actually 5-0 at half time which is remarkable. Townsend pulls one back after half time but Pisano makes it 6-1. Just when you think you’ve seen everything, Middlesbrough score twice in the same minute. Is the comeback on? No, Pisano scores to complete his hat-trick and then makes it 8. 8-3. Wat.
Quite an even game which apparently Middlesbrough shaded. Do we blame Schwarzer? Either way, the net result is that Genoa edge out Reggiana at the top and Middlesbrough are out.
Wolves vs Verona
Wolves came into today’s episode already eliminated so they haven’t really been top of the bill. Here’s how they line up for a home game with Verona:
Verona have been eliminated over the course of today, by this point my desk is all scribbles and spreadsheets. I think the gist is that they can’t catch Reggiana or Genoa who both have 7 points.
A right old ding-dong finishes 2-2. Darren Ferguson has been better than I remember, but Wolves take the wooden spoon.
Sheffield United vs Cagliari
So, er, I took a gamble that this, our main event, would have lots riding on it. It doesn’t. Sheff Utd are through and Cagliari are out.
The final lineup:
Perhaps fittingly, it finishes a draw.
It does mean Sheff Utd top the group but they were already the top English side. It also means they get to play their semi final at home as they have 8 points to Port Vale’s 7.
How exciting. Sheffield United vs Port Vale and Pescara vs Genoa. We’ll have both games and the subsequent final tomorrow, see you there!