Cologne fans bring West End to standstill before Arsenal game
Thousands of German football fans brought parts of central London to a standstill ahead of their team's Europa League match against Arsenal.
Some 20,000 FC Cologne supporters have come to London, and briefly brought the West End to a halt as they marched down Oxford Street.
It is the first time in 25 years Cologne has played in an international club competition.
Police said flares were let off but reported no 'significant disorder'.
The game was due to start at 20:05 BST but Arsenal say kick-off has been delayed by about an hour in the "interests of crowd safety".
The Bundesliga estimated around 20,000 fans had travelled to the capital to support their team.
It added only 2,900 tickets had been allocated to the away fans for tonight's match at the Emirates stadium in north London.
In a statement the Met Police said: "At around 15:00 BST on Thursday, 14 September a large group of football fans gathered in Oxford Street.
"The group was at the location for about 30 minutes whilst they boarded public transport to travel to a football match this evening.
"They did throw bottles and let off flares, but there was no significant disorder, police were on scene and there have been no arrests. The group has now left the area."
Source: BBC NEWS
Violence mars Aberdeen's Europa League match
Riot police with batons were deployed against Aberdeen fans as fighting broke out after the side's Europa League match in Cyprus.
The match itself was interrupted when supporters of Apollon Limassol threw flares onto the pitch.
More trouble erupted after the Dons 2-0 defeat, as a small number of fans at the Aberdeen end clashed with stewards at the AEK Arena in Larnaca.
Police with batons and riot shields then moved in.
BBC Scotland's Scott Davie described "ugly scenes" between fans and stewards.
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes later criticised stewarding at the match and said fans had been treated badly.
He told BBC Radio Scotland: "We expected it to be a bit volatile. We expected there to be plenty of passions from the side but it did boil over at times.
"I'm hearing our fans were treated terribly by the stewards here as well. Steaming in with flares and tear gas and everything else to try to defuse the situation.
" I didn't get to see it but I'm hearing it second hand. And when you see some of the stuff that was going on.
"Things getting thrown onto the pitch, people spitting into the dugout, players getting thrown on.
"That's when you should have seen the stewards being more visible, not treating our fans the way they did."
The flare incidents took place early in the second half, with one landing inside the goal behind Dons goalkeeper Joe Lewis.
Television footage caught Swiss referee Stephan Klossner tell an official that he would abandon the match if behaviour did not cease but it calmed down.
In a statement Aberdeen FC said it had "commenced dialogue with the stadium operators, Apollon Limassol and the authorities" about the events.
It added: "As part of this, the club has requested that CCTV footage is interrogated in order to assist matters.
"The club will not be making any further comment until the conclusion of this comprehensive investigation."
Source: BBC NEWS
Europa League Dream Over for Dundalk
If somebody had said to me at the start of this seasons Airtricity League that Dundalk would still be competing in Europe at Christmas time I would have thought they were the biggest comedian since Bernard Manning. Airtricity League teams very rarely, if ever, have any sort of run in Europe unless they are doing pre season training on the beach somewhere in a warmer climate. This season saw the opposite and a little bit of history was made by Stephen Kenny and his squad. They put up a serious challenge to get out of a Europa League group containing Zenith Saint Petersburg, AZ Alkmaar, Macabbi Tel Aviv and themselves. The road has been long and contained twelve games on the biggest stage of all, European Football. How they have gone about their business on and off the field has been incredible and going into their last qualifying game away in Tel Aviv, they knew that if the results on the night went in their favour, they would still be playing in Europe after Christmas, something that would have been unbelievable for a club that was down on its knees a few seasons back. So how did it develop on the night that could see dreams realised or hearts broken.
Unfortunately for Dundalk, after the home defeat in their last game against Alkmaar they knew their faith was out of their own hands. The permutations going into game against Macabbi were many, but a Dundalk win and Zenith win or draw in the Netherlands against Alkmaar would put them through. Stephen Kenny knew they had to keep it tight in Tel Aviv and for the first twenty minutes it was going so well. Disaster struck in the twenty first minute when defender Brian Gartland tried to play out from the back and got caught in possession on the edge of his own box by Chaim, who played in Medunjanin who in turn was taken down by goalkeeper Rogers to give the home side a penalty. Roger,s was very lucky to receive only a yellow card as some referees might have produced red.
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Chaim converted the penalty and it was an uphill battle for Dundalk from then on. The Lillywhites did manage to score an equaliser in the twenty seventh minute when Eli Dasa put into his own goal. In fairness to Dundalk it was a brilliant move and the defender was unlucky to see the ball hit off him and go into the net. Another pice of sloppy play gave Maccabi their second goal when Chris Shields gave away a ball needlessly in the centre of the park. The ball eventually found Miha who,s shot went through Gartland,s legs and past Rogers, the goalkeeper in my opinion should have done a lot better in trying to save the shot. For the rest of the game both sides gave their all but alas it was to be for Dundalk. It was a kind of strange atmosphere in the ground as the scores were coming through from Alkmaar, they were winning their match three two. On the night Dundalk could not do it and it was a big disappointment, but they leave the big European stage with their heads held high.
Although disappointed with going out of Europe, the players and management should be so proud at they have achieved. When the dust all settles on this story we will look back at where the qualifying wheels came off the track. In my opinion it was the domestic league ending that did for Dundalk in the end. They started off great in Europe this season and unfortunately due to the fact that the Airtricity League had a finishing date which could not be moved, meant games piled up on the Lillywhites and tiredness became a big factor. Although they had a break after the Cup Final, this itself led to problems, as not having competitive games can lead to players losing match sharpness in their legs and minds. What Dundalk have done has been incredible for themselves and the League and it has set down a marker for going forward. The other clubs in the league now need to step up to the plate and make big strides to close the gap between themselves and the Champions. The FAI need to learn from this Dundalk journey as well. It might be a good idea to extend the Airtricity League finishing date until qualification has finished in the group stage for the Champions League and Europa League. It will mean that the competitive edge will still be with the teams if they are lucky enough to be in the same position as Dundalk found themselves in this season. Let us all hope the powers to be have a good look at this when they compile a review of the season. After all, we only want to take this to the next level and give our Airtricity League teams a better chance on the European stage.
By David Meier
Dundalk's Europa League Slip Up
Last Thursday week Dundalk's Europa League match welcomed AZ Alkmaar to the Tallaght Stadium for another game in Dundalk's Europa League group. It was a game that the home side knew a victory would almost certainly see them qualify into the next stages of the competition. No matter what the result it has without doubt been a truly magnificent season for the Lillywhites.
Stephen Kenny and his squad of players have done themselves and the Airtricity League proud. They have without a shadow of a doubt brought football in this country to another level. A club that was on it's knees a few season's back has risen to incredible heights. The work that Stephen Kenny and his not to often mentioned assistant Vinny Perth have put in has been incredible. Winning another title has been the highlight of this season so far and they won that with such style. Going into the game against AZ Alkmaar was going to need a monumental effort to get the victory. So as the teams lined up in the tunnel to come out in front of yet another full house, the hosts knew qualification was in their own hands and if victorious they would go down in history as arguably the greatest side ever to come out of this small island.
It was unfortunately to be a very long and frustrating night for the home side. AZ came out of the traps very early and went at Dundalk from the very first whistle. They grabbed the only goal of the game in the tenth minute when a Tankovic shot found it,s way to Weghorst who scored. It was the last thing Stephen Kenny's men needed and in fairness to the Dutch side they deserved their lead. As we all Dundalk have been playing nearly three games a week in their final couple of weeks in the Airtricity League and after the Cup Final which was played on the 6th of November, they had not had a competitive match since. To keep things ticking over they played Brentford reserves in a friendly in London, a game which they lost. It was so evident in this Alkmaar game that they had not played for a while as they struggled not only to find each other with the ball, but also in the first half it looked liked they were substantially off the pace of the game. The goal allowed AZ to sit back and defend their lead as a draw would suit them. Dundalk on the night never really created any clear chances and had to rely on scraps. A couple of headers by Kilduff went astray and if it had not been for some excellent goalkeeping by Gary Rogers the score could have been a lot worse. Ronan Finn nearly pulled the rabbit out of the hat late on in the game when his lobbed shot fell the wrong side of the post as everyone looked on with dismay. In my opinion it was a poor performance by Dundalk on the night and I know they can play a lot better, but on this night things did not fall right for them.
Although a defeat against the Dutch side was a blow, it is not the end of the run in the Europa League for Stephen Kenny and his players. They next travel to Tel Aviv to take on Macabbi in their last game of the group stages. Unfortunately it is now out of their own hands as to what way this will all turn out. The simple way of looking at it is, they need to win and hope Zenith who have already qualified will put in a good performance and beat Alkmaar in the Netherlands. It will be a ask for both of these things to happen and it will be in the lap of the footballing gods as to how things turn out. No matter what the outcome it has been an amazing season for Dundalk and their fans. They have given a real lift to football in this country and has everyone talking about their escapades in Europe this season, there is not a day goes by without someone passing a comment to me about it. One way or another we will know their faith next Thursday evening after the Macabbi game and let us all hope this historical year can end on a huge high and push this European dream into the next round, which will be at the start of next year, we can only keep our fingers crossed.
Dundalk Crowned Champions Again
There is no doubt that over the past couple of weeks it has been a roller coaster of emotions for every Dundalk fan. The highs and the not so many lows have had most of the footballing world in Ireland sitting on the edge of their seats. This past week has seen the Lillywhites play Longford Town, Zenit Saint Petersburg and Bohemians. The two league games in which they faced Longford and Bohemians saw Stephen Kenny's men edge nearer the title. Going into the three games you had to worry about fatigue and how the back log of matches was going to effect the players fitness. One thing though that was for certain was the fact that chasing the big prizes both domestically and in Europe would give a bit more adrenalin for the fight ahead.
First up in another trilogy of games for Dundalk was an away trip to Longford Town. The home side knew a defeat would mean relegation and Dundalk knew a win would be another step towards the title. It was very clear to see from the start that this was going to be a win for the away side, as they totally controlled the game from the start. It was not long before we had to wait for a goal and it duly arrived in the fifteenth minute when Massey put the league leaders one up. One became two in the forty first minute when Dave McMillan added his name to the scoresheet. Dundalk were strolling to another victory and the scoring was completed by Daryl Horgan in the second half. It really was a men against boys match and you could clearly see why Longford were now about to be relegated. With the game well and truly won early on, it gave manager Stephen Kenny a chance to use all his substitutes and gave him the luxury of resting players, with the Zenith game in the Europa League looming. When the news filtered through after the match that Saint Patrick,s Athletic had beaten Dundalk,s nearest rivals Cork three one, you could hear the champagne been put into the ice bucket as Stephen Kenny,s men were now seven points clear at the top of the table. All that would be required now was a win against Bohemians and the title was their,s once again. That game would have to wait as next up for Dundalk was a Europa League game against Zenith Saint Petersburg.
You could tell it was a very special night when Zenith came to town to play Dundalk last Thursday night in the Europa League. As I have informed you before, Dundalk have to play their Europa League games in Tallaght, the home of Shamrock Rovers. The game was due to kick off at 8.05pm but the streets around the ground were packed from early in the evening as the fans arrived in their thousands to witness the game. It was not only Dundalk fans who travelled to watch the match but Irish football fans came out on the night as well. The game was a sell out and if the Tallaght stadium had a bigger capacity you could have sold a lot more tickets. As I sat in the press box I looked around at all the top class journalists that were covering the game and realised how nobody wanted to miss out on such a magnificent occasion. The game was broadcast on live TV in 37 different countries which just showed the huge interest.
Dundalk got off to a flying start and possibly should have gone one nil up when Ronan Finn missed an opportunity from a tight angle, now what a start would have been. The way that Stepen Kenny had set up his side was allowing Zenith plenty of pocession but they where doing nothing with it. Going in at half time, with the score nil all you felt the home side had to be happy, because everyone I spoke to before the game were of the same opinion as me that a draw on the night would be a fabulous result. Seven minutes into the second half a shot from long range from Robbie Benson found the back of the net as the Zenith keeper made a blunder to allow the ball go under his body, unbelievable. It was another goalkeeping mistake that let Zenith back into the game when Dundalk keeper Sava put a ball up in the air only for it to land at the foot of a Zenith players foot who picked out Mak, who duly scored. All the good work had been undone by a dreadful error and it was game on again. Massey came extremely close to putting the home side back in front, when hit the post with a header. In the seventy seventh minute Zenit scored the goal that was to eventually win the game, Giuliano and Witsel combined at high speed to totally unlock the Dundalk and Giuliano scored. It was a fabulous night and the 5,500 in attendance, although disappointed with the result went home having witnessed a very special night. The Irish side can still qualify from the this group and had bigger games on the horizon as they got ready to play Bohemians, a game that could see them crowned champions.
Although very disappointed with the Zenith result a huge crowd gathered in Oriel Park last Sunday night to see if Dundalk could get all the three points from the game that would see them crowned champions. The fans were in the ground a full hour before kick off and when referee Neil Doyle blew the whistle to start the match they all knew that three points would see them crowned champions. It was a very nervy and subdued start to the game by Dundalk and it took a bit of time for them to find their rhythm. The opening goal to calm all nerves came in the fifteenth minute when Andy Boyle rose to head home a Daryl Horgan corner, one nil and the show was underway. After the goal it was a very composed Dundalk performance and a second goal was on the cards until the thirtieth minute, when shock of shocks, Bohemians were awarded a penalty as Ronan Finn had been adjudged by referee Neil Doyle to have brought down Keith Buckley, a lot of people had their doubts as to whether or not it was a penalty but in my opinion the referee got it spot on and it was a brave call. When all the complaints calmed down, up stepped Mark Quigley to slot it home.
After the equaliser the game fell back into the pattern of Dundalk attacks and Bohemians defending, it was a joy to watch and in the sixty third minute Brian Gartland hammered home Dundalk,s second past keeper Supple. Cue the celebrations, although there were still twenty seven minutes left you just could not see anything other than a Dundalk win, the fat lady was leaving the dressing room and clearing her throat as they say. When referee Doyle blew the final whistle the celebrations exploded as Dundalk had won their third title in a row. It was a massive achievement to play so many games in such a short space of time and not to implode on the run in. With two games left now to complete their league season, manage Stephen Kenny has the luxury to rest players so his side can be ready for the big challenges ahead over the next couple of weeks in the Europa League and the FAI Cup Final. But for now let us congratulate Stephen Kenny and his side on a a magnificent achievement in winning the league for a third year in a row.