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Tootle's 'slug' goal celebration

The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Matejovsky sounds warning to Reds

Sparta Prague midfielder Marek Matejovsky has warned Liverpool his team are good enough to play in the Premier League.

Matejovsky, a former Reading player, returns to Anfield as Sparta face the Reds in the second leg of a Europa League last-32 tie in which the scores are locked at 0-0.

Liverpool will be favourites to progress in front of a sell-out crowd but Matejovsky, who struck a stunning goal on the ground for Reading three years ago, is confident Sparta can upset the odds.

The 29-year-old said: ''I have mentioned it before, I believe Sparta could play in the Premier League. The standard [of the leagues] is incomparable but I believe we are good enough for this Premier League.

''We all know the atmosphere here is usually great. I don't know if it is the best but it is going to be very loud. But there are no excuses for us. We just have to do our best on the pitch.

''We are going to concentrate on our orders from our coach and see how it goes.''

Matejovsky remembers well his superb 20-yard strike at the Anfield Road End in the year Reading were relegated from the Premier League, but it is not something he dwells on.

He said: ''Of course I would like to score again but the most important thing is to fulfil our hope of getting through.

''Even though I scored here last time, we lost. If you score and you lose, it is not the best memory. I do remember the goal but it is not the only goal I have ever scored so I don't live in the past.''

Sparta supporters will also make a healthy contribution to the atmosphere, with around 3,000 expected to travel from the Czech Republic to Merseyside.

Coach Jozef Chovanec said: ''I think it is the biggest number of Sparta fans that have come away with us. We are very grateful to them and it will be like having a 12th player on the pitch.''

Chovanec, a former Czech Republic national coach who is in his third spell in charge of Sparta, admits victory would be a huge achievement for his team. He said: ''It is a great experience for myself and the team. Liverpool are the favourites but we have played other famous teams, not just Liverpool - even though they are one of the best.

''It is our dream to get through and why not try to get through against Liverpool? We have done well, got through the group stages, so let's try to get through further tomorrow.''


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