Football: Spartak coach: `No one wants us'

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The Independent Online
THE SPARTAK MOSCOW coach, Oleg Romantsev, says nobody wants his team to progress to the final stages of the Champions' League because of the volatile situation in Russia.

"It's clear that with the political situation in our country, no one wants the top European clubs to come and play here," he said after Spartak salvaged a 1-1 home draw against the Czech side Sparta Prague in their Group G match on Tuesday. His comments coincided with a verbal attack on the Swedish referee Karl-Erik Nilsson, who sent off two Spartak players in the match. "I knew that we might end up with only only nine men the way he was doing his job," he said. "If he could find a reason to send off one of our players he would."

Romantsev suggested their might be an anti-Spartak lobby in Uefa because of the two terrorist bombs which destroyed apartment buildings in the Russian capital, killing more than 200 people.

In the match itself, Nilsson sent off the defender Yuri Kovtun for a second bookable offence after 68 minutes and the Brazilian striker Luis Robson, who elbowed the Czech striker Libor Sionko in the face, in the 83rd minute.

Romantsev, who is also the national coach, has often criticised Uefa and European referees in the past and says Tuesday's match is no isolated case. "The same officiating we'll have everywhere else," he complained.

But he had no criticism of the Spanish referee Fernandez Martin, who awarded Spartak two penalties in their opening Group G match at Willem II Tilburg last week. Spartak won that match 3-1. "We were just lucky that last week we had a real honest referee who was just doing his job," Romantsev said.

Bordeaux's 100th European match, a French record, brought them a much needed victory. But their 3-2 Champions' League Group G win over Willem II on Tuesday could have been another let-down for the 1996 Uefa Cup finalists as the Dutch side fought their way back. Bordeaux, who ended a run of five matches in the French league and Europe without a victory, deserved to win but nearly threw the game away. Willem II, 2-0 behind after just 22 minutes, equalised 20 minutes from the end and looked on top.

A touch of skill from Bordeaux's teenage Guinean striker, Pascal Feindouno, settled the game after fatigue had eroded their first-half dominance.

"Perhaps, we tried to do too much too early, scoring two quick goals, but this team fought with courage and that finally bore fruit," the club's president, Jean-Louis Triaud, said.