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Lausanne UEFA cup dream ends in tatters

Lausanne's Sebastien Zambaz inconsolable at the final whistle

(Keystone)

It was a ragged end to Lausanne-Sports' UEFA cup run at the Olympic Stadium on Thursday night, as the hosts played a match they would rather forget. Their 3-1 defeat to French side Nantes gave the visitors an aggregate score of 7-4.

Nantes came into the game 4-3 up, and seemed content enough in the first half to sit back on their first-leg laurels. All the pressure and pace was courtesy of Lausanne, the home side displaying the greater effort.

But when Nantes did break it was a demonstration of the quality which has taken them to the top of the French domestic league. Stefan Ziani seized on Lausanne's defensive hesitation to ram home a goal in the twenty-fourth minute.

The goal meant Lausanne would have to score twice in order to keep their cup chances alive. The home side obliged early in the second half, with a cannoning shot from Massimo Lombardo in the fifty-first minute.

But thereafter Lausanne seem to have hit a plateau, and nine minutes later Viorel Moldovan scored Nantes' second. The Romanian, a former Grasshoppers and Xamax player, is no stranger to the Swiss league, and received a hot reception from the Lausanne fans.

However, fan pressure was not enough to buoy up Lausanne. Neither was the refereeing.

The zealous Dutch referee reduced the game to a farce, sending off substitute Frederic Hojak, who had just come onto the pitch, in the seventy-ninth minute. Team-mate Daniel Puce, angry at the decision, was himself shown the card seconds later.

It was a sad conclusion to a spirited performance by the Swiss side, the score telling only part of the story. But the conclusion was sadder still when Eric Carrière made it three for Nantes just ahead of the final whistle.

Lausanne's tenacity had seen them take the scalps of both Torpedo Moscow and Dutch stars Ajax. But it is Nantes who are through to the UEFA cup fourth round, no Swiss sides remain in the competition, and Lausanne will now need to turn their attentions to the domestic league.

Apart from their European exploits, Lausanne are having a mediocre season. Their coach, Pierre-André Schurmann, is reportedly facing the sack if the team's performance does not improve.

by Roy Probert

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