Pieroni hat-trick fires Auxerre
Thursday, 2 December 2004
 A first-half hat-trick from Luigi Pieroni helped AJ Auxerre to a comprehensive victory against ten-man KS Amica Wronki to boost their hopes of qualification in UEFA Cup Group F.
 Goals from Jean-Pascal Mignot and Bonaventure Kalou added to Pieroni's haul as Auxerre moved above Grazer AK to set up a tense Matchday 5 meeting with Rangers FC.
 Auxerre, who had failed to register a goal in their two previous games, wasted no time in correcting that fact as they took the lead in the opening minute. After Pieroni had been fouled on the edge of the penalty area, Mignot stepped up to curl the ball low around the wall and past the unsighted Arkadiusz Malarz.
 It was the perfect start for Guy Roux's team and it was to get even better just four minutes later when Pieroni picked up the ball outside the Amica penalty area before guiding a curling shot past Malarz's outstretched hand.
 The visitors from Poland were stunned but managed to regroup and, after René Bolf had turned a cross against his own post on 13 minutes, they got a goal back on 17 minutes through a far-post header from captain Pawel Kryszalowicz.
 Auxerre were in no mood to let their opponents back into the game, though, and seven minutes later regained their two-goal advantage through Pieroni. Kanga Akalé raced down the left and sent over a low centre which the Belgian prodded in from close range.
 Just a minute later he completed his hat-trick. It was the same combination again as Akalé latched on to a long ball before advancing into the box and chipping a perfect cross to Pieroni, who headed beyond Malarz.
 Yann Lachuer should have extended Auxerre's lead further, missing three golden opportunities before the break, twice shooting wide from close range and having an effort well saved by Radoslaw Cierzniak, who had come on to replace injured goalkeeper Malarz.
 Things then went from bad to worse for Amica as Cierzniak, who had only been on the pitch for nine minutes, was dismissed after stopping a Pieroni shot outside his penalty area just after the restart. Marcin Burkhardt was handed the gloves, becoming the visitors' third keeper of the evening, and was soon picking the ball out of the net. However, Akalé’s effort on 51 minutes was ruled out for offside.
 Five minutes later Auxerre did make it five. Lachuer, who was finding lots of space down the right, was allowed to venture into the box and cross for Kalou, who guided the ball high into the net at the near post.
 Auxerre continued to press, with Pieroni missing a header when just two metres out, but failed to inflict further damage upon Amica. AZ Alkmaar are through after defeating Rangers in the night's other Group F match, leaving Auxerre to battle it out for the other two qualifying places with Rangers and GAK.