Two red cards for
Scots and superb
are just too much
Borussia Dortmund 2
CLASS may be difficult to define, but it is near impossible to combat, as Motherwell, like many a Scottish team before them, discovered when they tried to match the quality of a team worth close to #25m in the UEFA Cup return at Fir Park yesterday afternoon.
The Scots managed to make things even more difficult by tackling the job with only 10 men for most of the day -- Dougie Arnott was sent off after having been shown a second yellow card in 32 minutes -- and that was as good as giving the Germans a conducted passage into Friday's draw for the second round.
But it would be stretching the truth to suggest that the outcome would have been different if Arnott had not been dismissed. Borussia were peopled with star turns, some of whom cost the club #16m to be with them this season.
In the first leg when they were asked to defend and keep the contest close, Motherwell did that and more. This time it was the Borussia men's turn to do that -- and they were simply brilliant at it.
''We had a mountain to climb after the sending-off,'' said Motherwell manager Alex McLeish, who hardly could be expected to be cliche-free in the circumstances. ''But whether the two yellow cards were justified or not is debatable. What is for sure is that other incidents went unpunished.''
The manager refused, however, to make the referee's performance an excuse. That was sensible, but it should be pointed out how bad the man from Sweden, Anders Frisk, really was.
He made so many mistakes or at least, inexplicable decisions and non-decisions, that by the end, it became a guessing game as to what he might do. And it has to be said that he showed no clear signs of impartiality, consistently punishing Motherwell for misdemeanours, but turning a Nelson eye when a man from Dortmund was involved.
Two Scots were provided with a close-up of the referee's yellow and red cards -- Chris McCart joining Arnott in the book, and Rab Shannon joining him in the dressing-room after having been sent off near the end for a reckless tackle on Steffeu Freund. Two-goal Karlheinz Riedle also was booked.
Perhaps worst of all, in the technical sense at least, he allowed a blatantly offside break by Stephane Chapuisat and Matthias Sammer, at the end of which the Swiss internationalist uncharacteristically missed a great chance.
The Swede was dreadful. Yet I would have to say that in the sending off of Arnott and Shannon, he was right. Arnott had been booked for a foul on Freund, justifiably, and when he lunged from behind at Chapuisat, he had no real complaint at a second caution and the red card that followed.
What was reprehensible was the excessive show of indignation by Andreas Moeller who remonstrated so much with the referee after the tackle that he might well have been the catalyst that had the Motherwell man sent off. Shannon would have to hold his hands up and plead guilty after his scything tackle on Freund left the referee with no options.
Moeller and Freund won no friends in the Motherwell stadium as they narked and snarled and moaned throughout. Freund, admittedly, had a fair bit to be uspet about when he appeared to be hit by a coin on the far side as he tried to take a throw-in in the first half. The fear afterwards was that Motherwell would be the subject of some discipline by UEFA for the offence, but the independent observer, Sir Bert Millichip, did not mention the matter to the club at the end and the German coach, Ottmar Hitzfeld, was anxious to play down the incident.
''It is the normal kind of thing that happens in Europe when people get nervous.''
Hitzfeld was delighted that his team had given Motherwell ''no chance'' to get into the tie. ''For me that was very important, and it was also good that Riedle scored two goals.'' Riedle is the subject of #3m interest by Everton and Leeds.
Riedle's first goal came after Motherwell had given the majority of the 9362 in attendance their biggest thrill of the night when a short free kick from Paul Lambert to Rob McKinnon allowed the full back to hit a cracking shot which German keeper Stefan Klos dived to touch away. It was the best scoring try that the Scots had managed until then, after 52 minutes. And perhaps the prospects it opened up for the 10 men caused the momentary lack of concentration which let Borussia score within a minute.
''They used three passes and that was enough to leave us in trouble,'' confessed McLeish. The last one was from Chapuisat to Riedle who made no mistake.
Yet before they scored their second, Shannon might have equalised with an overhead kick which slid past a post after Tommy Coyne, who spent a lonesome time up front, headed the ball to him. However, before 10 more minutes had passed, Riedle was at it again, after a superb Freund pass to Chapuisat and an even better one to the striker.
There was no answer to that. The Motherwell manager would not argue. For him, like everybody else, the hope after Arnott went off and Borussia scored was that the scoreline would not turn out to be embarrassing.
McLeish admitted that he had resisted the temptation to throw everything into attack to try to save the tie.
The two sendings off and the dismissal of Paul McGrillen in the first leg might suggest that his team lost the place a little, but the tensions of these ties and the frustrations induced by poor refereeing can get to players unused to the European experience. Overall, they fought the good fight, but in the end there is not much you can do about combating a team as special as Dortmund. In footballers' lingo, they are different class.
MOTHERWELL -- Woods, Shannon, McKinnon, Philliben, Martin, McCart, Lambert, Dolan, Coyne, Arnott, Davies. Substitutes: Kirk, Allan, Mcleish, Burns, McMillan.
BORUSSIA DORTMUND -- Klos, Reinhardt, Schmidt, Freund, Cesar, Sammer, Reuter, Zorc, Chapuisat, Moller, Reidle. Substitutes: De Beer, Tanko, Frank, Kree, Ricken.
Referee -- A Frisk (Sweden).