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We're all going on a European tour

Filed: Friday, 15th October 1999
By: Chris Tye

I've looked back on the match, and thought about how many ways there are to create a chance, and yet not end up with a goal.

A match report from the West Ham United v Steaua Bucharest UEFA Cup 2nd Round 2nd Leg.

Here's my list: hit post, hit bar, cleared off the line,rank bad finishing, blocked, great tackle, clearance by defence, disallowed, miracle save by keeper, fluke saveby keeper, goal of the season attempt missing by a whisker. I can remember at least one of all the above causing a clear cut chance to go begging in this game. Time and time again we built up such a head of steam that a goal had to come, it just had to, but somehow it never came. Not even a paltry injury time consolation.

Steaua were everything to admire, and detest in a European team. Sharp passing and movement, quick on the break, tenacious in defence were things to admire. Brutal cynical challenges, professional fouls, timewasting, feigning injury, trying to cheat the ref into sending an opponent off - all things to detest. So bad were they, I thought we were playing Arsenal again. Oh and the ref  - now struck off the UEFA list for being 'out of his depth', although sadly too late to help us, he was a disaster. One newspaper reckoned that that guy Duro committed 7 challenges worthy of a yellow at normal Premiership level, yet the old book came out....when he threw the ball away.

It is to our credit that we dominated such a game, should have won it by a street - and displayed the sort of passion which
we need when we go to any large ground North of Nottingham. The game itself consisted of West Ham chances arriving at a rate of one every 2 minutes, except for an amazing 10 minute spell in the second half when we put Kitson on for Keller and Steaua poured down the exposed flank, forcing Shaka into about 4 brilliant saves. Lomas eventually filled this hole.

On a final note, I've loved this European Tour. Metz was a classic match and fantastic day out, and I would have accepted the outcome had I been offered it on the first day of our Intertoto challenge. Sickening to think the our heroic failure was in reaching the round that the Champions League losers join. Enough said on that, it makes me angry.

Player ratings:

Shaka - 9 Kept us in the tie, pure class. I would feel more comfortable with him between the sticks than Seaman for England.

Ruddock - 8 Oh no, there's a Steaua player through on goal...wait...who's that gliding across the Upton Park turf, gaining on the player and hitting him with a perfectly timed challenge.....RUDDOCK???!!!! Probably his best game for us.

Margas - 8 Two thunderous two footed challenges in the first half would have saved on demolition charges on the West Stand if an unfortunate Romanian wasn't in the way - raised his status in everyone's eyes. Should start from now, committment and some useful distribution.

Rio - 7 Signs of a return to form.

Lomas - 8 Almost miraculous work rate, covering and tackling. After the Kits/Keller substitution he was covering the LWB role as well as midfield.

Lampard - 8 Goal of the season contender: a free kick from near the corner flag chipped to Lampard 25 yds out. He hit it straight on the volley, outside of the boot and it flew past the post, goalkeeper stranded. Worked hard, impressive distribution.

Keller - 7 Hardworking, he is still a right footed player in a LWB spot, but did a good job.

Sinclair - 7 Not his best effort, some overhit crosses, still good though!!

Cole - 9 We know all about the skills, the talent, the bewitching ability to do things that no-one else can. This is the first time I've seen a full 90 from Cole for West Ham this season: he looks stronger than last year, and has acquired an impressive burst of pace. I saw something new this time: heart and courage. Ran at them time and time again, despite the fact that attempted murder wasn't even a booking offence in this ref's eyes, and was still at it in injury time. We could be seeing a truly great player emerging, I think we are. The skill of Gazza, the heart of Bryan Robson, the common sense of Michael Owen. Shame about the Steve Potts finishing!!

Wanchope - 7 Needs a goal, but works hard and deserves one. May catch fire if he nets soon.

PDC - 7 Not fully fit, especially after a few challenges from that lunatic Duro.

Kitson - 6 Not as threatening as Wanchope (hear that all you boo boys).

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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