Bradford washed away

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The Independent Online

Bradford went out of the Intertoto Cup last night and, in truth, it will probably be something of a relief.

Bradford went out of the Intertoto Cup last night and, in truth, it will probably be something of a relief.

The main stand at Valley Parade needs a roof rather more than Bradford need a third Cup competition. The corporatehospitality guests sat exposed to a monsoon, wearing white cagoules, looking for all the world as if a Klu Klux Klan convention had pitched up in West Yorkshire to watch a mediocre game of European football.

After the first leg of this semi-final, the Bradford manager, Chris Hutchings, had said his side were lucky not to have lost by three goals. Last night they did. Denis Ugarov scored the first, helped Boris Gorovoy bundled the second over the line, and created the third with a delightful one-two with Yevgeny Tarasov to seal a victory that was emphatic. For Bradford the real business begins on 19 August at Anfield.

Almost the biggest cheer of the evening was for an East European, Dan Petrescu,who has exchanged Chelsea, the Premiership's most exotic club for its most homely.

Within 30 seconds of a disjointed first half the Romanian realised he might have some defending to do this season as Gennady Popovich, Zenit's lone centre-forward, was put clear only to chip over the crossbar.

Mostly, however, the Russians were content to nurse their one-goal first-leg lead and menace on the break, especially once their playmaker Andrei Kobelev was taken off on a stretcher.

Bradford are used to fulfilling tall orders, but this rain-spattered night stretched their ability against a team seventh in the Russian league and with a miserly defensive record.

Bradford's problem was timing, which was typically pre-season and off-key. Blake managed the home side's only shot on target in the opening 45 minutes.

Bradford's Quixotic tilt at a Uefa Cup place virtually came to an end 21 minutes from the end as Denis Ugarov headed in the rebound from Alexander Spivak's shot.

The closest the home side came to scoring in torrential August rain was when Mills headed Peter Atherton's cross goalwards only to see the rebound scooped away.

Bradford City (4-4-2): Clarke; Halle, Nolan, McCall, O'Brien: Atherton, Windass, Hopkin, Mills; Blake (Beagrie, 73), Whalley (Lawrence, 82). Substitutes not used: Walsh, Sharpe, Westwood, Rankin, Grant.

Zenit St Petersburg (4-5-1): Malafeev; Zvetkov, Lepekkin (Vernidub, 85), Nedorezov, Katulsky; Gorovoy, Ugarov, Ossipov, Spivak, Kobelev (Arshavine, 30); Popovich (Tarasov, h-t). Substitutes not used: Berezovski, Borodine, Igonine, Gorshkov.

Referee: M Radoman (Yugoslavia).