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[FT] Royal Antwerp 3 - 4 Rangers (Aribo 38; Barisic 59pen, 90pen; Kent 83)


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Having just watched the whole match, due to a terrible stream & loss of most of the 2nd half, I can now see why I have seen so many confident reactions to the match.

I was left feeling Antwerp were the better team last night. We were excellent last night, however for me the tie is still in the balance as they had a good few players missing and are a very good side, at this stage of the competition there are no weak teams but we continue to show we are a very good team, we will need to be at our best to get through this tie though as the next match will be very tough.

 

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... aye, I also watched the full game again. Not just because, when it's as exciting a game as that, and you get the result, you kind of have to watch it again but also because watching it live was just such a stress-riddled, over-excitable experience I wasn't really able to properly judge what exactly had happened. 

Can't say I was any less astounded during the second watch but, being a bit calmer, I felt, yeah, there was a bit of opening rustiness due to Kent being dropped and suspension buddies Roofe and Morelos coming back in at the same time as a not-quite-match-fit Scotty Arfield. But, as with Alfie going on to be instrumental in all four of our goals after missing a good early chance to put us in front, I feel sure we would normally have gone on to win this one very easily.

That we didn't was, for me anyway, attributable to the circumstances: I know you have to be ready for anything - especially in Europe - but most of the few mistakes we made, almost all of which were instantly punished, were down to stuff that, well, happened to us rather than was caused by us:

For example, an injury to our captain, who never gets injured, in the very week we lose the young lad who was meant to cover him; and then - during the injury time allowed for Tav being replaced! -  the star striker who stole the show, who stole the whole group stage, the last time we were in Belgium is injured. That had everyone wondering what the hell??

When you lose a player like Tav - a player who is never injured, never dropped and is so instrumental to our tactical vision and team identity - it will inevitably send a wee tremor through the club. When you lose him in the first half of a vital European away game, one in which you're already getting three other players back up to speed, that has to send shock waves through the team on the pitch.

Then, during the added injury time for Roofe going off - and because the paperwork for Kent coming on wasn't ready for the fourth official (Jimmy Bell's second mistake, after Rofe-gate? You can tell him) - Antwerp get the softest penalty in the history of soft penalties, and we're going in 2-1 down and looking like the gods have it in for us, after having led 1-0 and looking like we could open up our hosts at will.

Add to all that the worst-since-Beaton-at-Ibrox-v-Lennon's-Hibs refereeing performance, plus - whatever its merits or otherwise - the very fact we're not used to playing games under the auspices of VAR disrupting our flow in a way that perfectly suited an injury-riddled Antwerp side who wanted a bitty, broken-up game, and the fact we won that leg by any score is utterly bloody magic.

Little wonder Stevie G said the players adapted to Dundee United's tactics yesterday by sorting it out on the pitch themselves. After last Thursday's tribulations they'll be able to switch formation ten times a game while solving a Rubik's cube with their left hand and doing some Sudoko with the right (pen in the mouth, filling out Jimmy's paperwork for the next sub).

My arse was on the floor at full-time on Thursday yet the players, hilariously, brilliantly - reassuringly - seemed to be just casually giving it, "Nice wee workout, that - aye, quite enjoyable". And yesterday, after a bit of job sharing - Greegs covering the first half hour while everyone else had a lie-in - we saw that surfeit of enjoyment from Thursday pour into their legs when they just unleashed on United in a way we haven't managed to do to anyone other than Ross County this year.

But the best laugh for me in Antwerp, as the players came off the Bosuilstadion pitch, was the off-stage member of our coaching staff  hollering at Goldson - "CONNOR! CONNOR! GET HIM AWAY!" - because they thought Borna was about to go for their keeper again, following their wee squaring-up after the winning penalty.
 

Borna hears this, turns to Goldson and just smiles and brushes it off as he heads over to, apparently, shake someone else kindly by the hand. But he has that exact same fixed smile, open-eyed stare on his face which could just as easily mean he's about to scalp someone, which is why I love players from the former Yugoslavia: 

They don't really do the posturing or handbags stuff. They're all skinny as rakes and their mood is either "I would die for you, my friend" or "You will die at my hands, my enemy". No in-between.


GOLDSON: "Come on, Borna. Leave it. You're on a yellow and we've already lost Tav. Get up that tunnel."

BORNA: "Leave what, big man? I'm chill. No sweat. Nae danger. Just going to shake hands with the guy".

GOLDSON: "You sure? Coz I can never tell wi you. I'll get in trouble if you lose the plot".

BORNA: "Totally sure. All forgotten. I'm 100% Karma Chameleon. We won, didn't we?! Why would I even care?! No, I'll see you in there, bro". 
 

GOLDSON: "Okay. Cool. See ye in there". [turns towards the tunnel]


BORNA:"Oh, Connor..."

GOLDSON: [turning back, disinterestedly] "Yeah?"

BORNA: "Does a severed head count as hand luggage or would I have to put that in the hold?"

GOLDSON; "Fu**ing WHAT??!"

BORNA: "I said it's all good and I'll see ye in the dressing room..."

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1 hour ago, Fat Eck said:

... aye, I also watched the full game again. Not just because, when it's as exciting a game as that, and you get the result, you kind of have to watch it again but also because watching it live was just such a stress-riddled, over-excitable experience I wasn't really able to properly judge what exactly had happened. 

Can't say I was any less astounded during the second watch but, being a bit calmer, I felt, yeah, there was a bit of opening rustiness due to Kent being dropped and suspension buddies Roofe and Morelos coming back in at the same time as a not-quite-match-fit Scotty Arfield. But, as with Alfie going on to be instrumental in all four of our goals after missing a good early chance to put us in front, I feel sure we would normally have gone on to win this one very easily.

That we didn't was, for me anyway, attributable to the circumstances: I know you have to be ready for anything - especially in Europe - but most of the few mistakes we made, almost all of which were instantly punished, were down to stuff that, well, happened to us rather than was caused by us:

For example, an injury to our captain, who never gets injured, in the very week we lose the young lad who was meant to cover him; and then - during the injury time allowed for Tav being replaced! -  the star striker who stole the show, who stole the whole group stage, the last time we were in Belgium is injured. That had everyone wondering what the hell??

When you lose a player like Tav - a player who is never injured, never dropped and is so instrumental to our tactical vision and team identity - it will inevitably send a wee tremor through the club. When you lose him in the first half of a vital European away game, one in which you're already getting three other players back up to speed, that has to send shock waves through the team on the pitch.

Then, during the added injury time for Roofe going off - and because the paperwork for Kent coming on wasn't ready for the fourth official (Jimmy Bell's second mistake, after Rofe-gate? You can tell him) - Antwerp get the softest penalty in the history of soft penalties, and we're going in 2-1 down and looking like the gods have it in for us, after having led 1-0 and looking like we could open up our hosts at will.

Add to all that the worst-since-Beaton-at-Ibrox-v-Lennon's-Hibs refereeing performance, plus - whatever its merits or otherwise - the very fact we're not used to playing games under the auspices of VAR disrupting our flow in a way that perfectly suited an injury-riddled Antwerp side who wanted a bitty, broken-up game, and the fact we won that leg by any score is utterly bloody magic.

Little wonder Stevie G said the players adapted to Dundee United's tactics yesterday by sorting it out on the pitch themselves. After last Thursday's tribulations they'll be able to switch formation ten times a game while solving a Rubik's cube with their left hand and doing some Sudoko with the right (pen in the mouth, filling out Jimmy's paperwork for the next sub).

My arse was on the floor at full-time on Thursday yet the players, hilariously, brilliantly - reassuringly - seemed to be just casually giving it, "Nice wee workout, that - aye, quite enjoyable". And yesterday, after a bit of job sharing - Greegs covering the first half hour while everyone else had a lie-in - we saw that surfeit of enjoyment from Thursday pour into their legs when they just unleashed on United in a way we haven't managed to do to anyone other than Ross County this year.

But the best laugh for me in Antwerp, as the players came off the Bosuilstadion pitch, was the off-stage member of our coaching staff  hollering at Goldson - "CONNOR! CONNOR! GET HIM AWAY!" - because they thought Borna was about to go for their keeper again, following their wee squaring-up after the winning penalty.
 

Borna hears this, turns to Goldson and just smiles and brushes it off as he heads over to, apparently, shake someone else kindly by the hand. But he has that exact same fixed smile, open-eyed stare on his face which could just as easily mean he's about to scalp someone, which is why I love players from the former Yugoslavia: 

They don't really do the posturing or handbags stuff. They're all skinny as rakes and their mood is either "I would die for you, my friend" or "You will die at my hands, my enemy". No in-between.


GOLDSON: "Come on, Borna. Leave it. You're on a yellow and we've already lost Tav. Get up that tunnel."

BORNA: "Leave what, big man? I'm chill. No sweat. Nae danger. Just going to shake hands with the guy".

GOLDSON: "You sure? Coz I can never tell wi you. I'll get in trouble if you lose the plot".

BORNA: "Totally sure. All forgotten. I'm 100% Karma Chameleon. We won, didn't we?! Why would I even care?! No, I'll see you in there, bro". 
 

GOLDSON: "Okay. Cool. See ye in there". [turns towards the tunnel]


BORNA:"Oh, Connor..."

GOLDSON: [turning back, disinterestedly] "Yeah?"

BORNA: "Does a severed head count as hand luggage or would I have to put that in the hold?"

GOLDSON; "Fu**ing WHAT??!"

BORNA: "I said it's all good and I'll see ye in the dressing room..."

Top class, absolutely top class.???

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