There were a few Everton jerseys on the 7AM flight from Dublin to Frankfurt and the train from Frankfurt to Nürnberg was full of them. The on-board bar ran out of bottles of beer, but they had draught, and "it's a grand old team to play for, it's a grand old team to support" rang out down the aisles.
When I got to Nürnberg the whole city centre was jammers with Evertonians, a couple of balconies overlooking medieval cobbled squares were covered in blue flags and some very raucous chanting echoed around the pretty old coloured buildings and stone gothic cathedrals. Lots of police sitting around watching, but no trouble at all.
A friend of mine who lives in Nürnberg had bought tickets for me and her, but I was still a bit worried after the debacle with the tickets bought in the UK being cancelled. There was absolutely no hassle though, I just kept my mouth shut, scanned the barcode and climbed the stairs to my seat. We were sitting at the opposite end to most of the Everton fans, in a section next to the noisiest Nürnbergers. They were giving it socks, chanting in German and bouncing up and down. I couldn't see any other Everton fans sitting near us, but maybe they were also keeping their heads down.
Any pretence at neutrality lasted about 30 seconds. Arteta gets free in the box, but the keeper saves. It's straight to Cahill whose shot hits the post. So close. I was up out of my seat and Karen was laughing at my attempt to keep a low profile. I thought we started very impressively, Arteta and Osman linking cleverly down the right soon after and Cahill inches away from knocking home the cross.
We looked comfortable enough in the first half, without making too many chances. Yakubu miskicked in the box, and there was an almighty scramble from a corner when the ball just wouldn't bobble our way, but generally it was even-stephen. Their only chances seemed to come from our mistakes, both Lescott and Pienaar sloppily handing them shooting chances, which Howard did well to save.
Second half was more of the same. They put on a bit of pressure, but it was mostly huffing and puffing in front of us. Carsley and Cahill were putting themselves about effectively in midfield, nicking plenty of ball in front of their players. Nürnberg looked like a team struggling in their league, a bit short of confidence.
The Spanish ref was getting dogs' abuse from home fans around us for giving us frees and them nothing. I thought he had a very good game, and didn't let them get to him. Yakubu was showing a few nice touches. Arteta was getting on the ball a lot, but his delivery, especially from set pieces, was poor. Valente looked a bit rusty, and was booked for a late tackle, which pleased the home fans.
We were on top, without making any decent chances and then Arteta turns in the middle of their half and slides ball in to Victor, who was just on for Yak. He is through around the penalty spot, and the centre-half obviously hauls him back. Definite penalty. It seemed to take ages for Arteta to place the ball, and all around us there was whistling and shouting, but Mikel calmly sends their keeper the wrong way. Brilliant.
The home fans are not impressed with their players, and the Everton fans down the far end, who had been quiet enough up to tnow, are going mental. Looking around I could see a good few pockets of Evertonians, it definitely looked like more than the announced official allocation. The locals started up with "you only sing when you're winning", which made me smile.
Then a few minutes later I am laughing. A big lump down the pitch from Howard and Victor does his European thing, out-muscling and out-pacing their centre-half down the wing and calmly slotting home under the keeper from a tight angle. A pretty special goal. It really is fantastic the way he keeps doing it. And that was that. Nürnberg 0 Everton 2. A great night's work.
No hassle after the game either, straight down to packed train and back into the city centre. Few quiet beers and off to bed. Considering this was my first time ever seeing Everton in Europe, I reckon it went pretty well. Any ideas on how to wangle a ticket for Alkmaar game would be much appreciated.
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1 Posted 10/11/2007 at 00:15:18
2 Posted 10/11/2007 at 01:35:08
3 Posted 10/11/2007 at 02:12:46
4 Posted 10/11/2007 at 09:28:10
Got my ticket for the Alkmaar game ( I live in Amsterdam and have a couple of connections!).
Try www.marktplaats.nl ...you will pay over the odds for the ticket but I know there are some floating around there. Good luck.
5 Posted 10/11/2007 at 11:11:52
6 Posted 10/11/2007 at 13:29:46
7 Posted 10/11/2007 at 14:13:30
And we could see and hear that our travelling faithful were having a fine time, in the best possible way, as we knew they would - EUFA should give top risk games a Red Alert rating, that would make more sense.
Just one word of counsel to Lol - watch out for that ALDI lager. Just cos its cheap doesn’t mean its weak.
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