ŠK Slovan Bratislava (nicknamed Belasi) managed to beat the strong favourites AS Roma last night in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League play-offs thanks to a fantastic header by Martin Dobrotka 10 minutes from the end.
The jubilation came after Slovan got a corner, taken by captain Igor Žofčák, which Dobrotka attacked and met perfectly, heading the ball down under the experienced Roma goalkeeper. After the match Dobrotka classed the goal as one of his greatest goals ever.
Coach Vladimir Weiss, who also manages the national team, feels the team deserved the win because of the players’ determination and sacrifice, but even though neither he nor anyone in the team is over-confident about the return leg at the Stadio Olympico in Rome next Thursday, they will head there with the full intention of getting through to the next round.
Slovan were under pressure for the whole of the first half and didn’t even get a shot on the Roma goal, but thanks to solid defending, they managed to hold out. In the second half Slovan played better and more attacking football, while keeping the discipline at the back. Captain Žofčák feels that if Slovan play the same in Rome, they have a chance of advancing to the next stage.
Coach Weiss praised his team, saying it is a great win for them, while remaining quietly confident that they have what it takes for the return match. He is well aware of the huge task ahead, though, and knows it will be far from easy at the intimidating Stadio Olympico, but says they will fight like gladiators.
With the away goals rule, if Slovan manage to get in an early goal, it would mean the Italians would have to score 3 goals. Bigger shocks have happened in football, and nobody knows it better than coach Weiss, whose Slovak national team put the Italians out of the last World Cup.
Belasi do toho!