Bayern ruin all Raith's dreams

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The Independent Online
reports from Easter Road

Raith Rovers 0 Bayern Munich 2

The dream was shattered for Raith Rovers, who fell to a defeat from which they are unlikely to recover, beaten by the classic sucker punch which has accounted for the demise of Scottish clubs in Europe through the years.

Playing at the home of Hibernian, Rovers came back from the loss of an early goal scored by Jurgen Klinsmann to rattle the German defence, before the former Spurs striker struck again with 17 minutes remaining to effectively settle this Uefa Cup second round, first leg tie.

Rovers' supporters afforded their players, part-time just five years ago, a standing ovation at the end, saluting their efforts throughout the 90 minutes. The club approached this tie in the state of ecstasy they have been in since they won the Coca-Cola Cup 11 months ago.

Promotion has since followed to the Premier Division and two previous rounds have been negotiated in this competition against opposition from the Faroe Islands and Iceland. But not for a second did anyone believe Raith could do much against the Germans, and home support made the trip across the River Forth from Kirkcaldy more in hope than expectation, even out of curiosity: the chance to see Klinsmann in the flesh was too good to turn down.

Klinsmann demonstrated as early as the sixth minute his sharpness around goal when he collected a loose ball before lobbing Scott Thomson, the Raith goalkeeper. Then Klinsmann plunged a dagger to the heart of the Rovers defence with a late, well-taken, second goal, sidefooting home from close range after a good run by Alexander Zickler.

In between times Rovers recovered from the nerves and shock of the early stages to steady themselves, and in a 20-minute spell at the start of the second half they certainly gave the German defence food for thought.

The confidence surging through the team allowed the ball players such as Danny Lennon and Colin Cameron to hold the ball and look for passes, whereas in the first half they had treated it like the proverbial hot potato.

Throughout the game one man stood firm at the heart of the Rovers defence: Davie Sinclair, at times looking as naive and clumsy as an amateur, nevertheless was a rock at the back and took time to venture forward. From him the rest of the team drew strength and confidence.

Sadly for the home support the closest their favourites came to a goal was in the 65th minute when the Bayern goalkeeper, Oliver Kahn, pulled off a seemingly impossible save to deny Cameron, whose header was heading for the top corner of the net.

Operating on the break the Germans nevertheless contrived to create several chances in the latter stages as Rovers tired and inevitably left gaps in their defence. Thomson saved well from Zickler while Christian Ziege found space for a run and a shot which went wide.

With five minutes remaining Jean-Pierre Papin, on as a substitute, fed Klinsmann whose header was brilliantly tipped over the bar and the Frenchman himself later had a shot crash back into the play off the crossbar.

By then the hopes and the dreams were well and truly buried, as it is unlikely that Rovers will be able to pick up the pieces for the second leg in two weeks' time.

Raith Rovers (5-3-2): Thomson; Kirkwood, Sinclair, Coyle, Dennis, Broddle; McInally, Lennon, Cameron; Graham, Dair.

Bayern Munich (4-3-3): Kahn; Kreuzer, Strunz, Helmer, Ziege; Hamann, Sforza, Herzog; Zickler, Scholl, Klinsmann.

Referee: R Harrel (France).