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Thursday, 3 February 2011


Dream debut : Alessandro Matri celebrates his fourth of the night

Alessandro Matri has scored more important goals during his career but few promised as much hope to a new legion of fans than his strike's for Rochdale in a 4-1 win over Charlton on Wednesday night.

It was a night to remember for the former Cagliari and Juventus forward as he kicked of his debut with a single moment of magic, beating his opponents to connect with a seemingly harmless cross, before nonchalantly flicking it into the back of the net.

By his own standards, it was not a goal that will feature on his highlights reel but the significance of it was not lost on him or the 10,000 fans that packed into Spotland stadium to watch his English league debut for the division 3 club.

His supporters and paymasters expect him to help push Rochdale to the next level, while his detractors accuse him of turning his back on top level football and taking the easy option by playing in the lower echelons of the English leagues, a notion the Italian has disputed since his arrival.

"I couldn't be happier with my debut," he told a news conference after Wednesday's match. "The reception was tremendous and every time I touched the ball they cheered. It was important for me to feel at home."

Matri was thrown straight into the starting eleven by manager GaryMack and even though he had only signed twelve hours earlier the sight of the opposition was enough to get his competitive juice's flowing.

It didn't look good after thirteen minutes as veteran Argentine Ariel Ortega threatened to spoil the party, firing home a wonderful long range freekick, But Matri soon got things back on track.

His first few touches showed why Rochdale paid so much for his service's, they finally have the targetman they have been crying out for, a man at the top of his game who still possesses all his predatory instincts and it was no real surprise that he equalised after 16 minutes and gave his new fans hope.

For the faithful and the curious who had come to see him play, this was just the start of a perfect 10 performance. The Italian looked head and shoulders above the rest as he pounced again right on the stroke of half-time, rounding the keeper and firing into the empty net.

The first half performance by Matri seemed do give his team-mates a boost as the Dale came out in the second half firing on all cylinder's. Darron Gibson and Jamie O'Hara easily had their best performance's so far this season and it was these two who combined to put Matri through on goal to grab his hat-trick on 77mins to score a true poachers goal.

The night kept getting better for the former Juve man when Gabriel Obertan was brought down 35yards from goal, the italian stepped up, took one look at goal and struck a thunderbolt past the defenceless Castelazzi in the Charlton goal.

As soon as the full-time whistle was blown, the Rochdale fans erupted into a well deserved standing ovation and the italian took off his number 10 shirt and threw it into the waiting crowd.

"He's going to make a massive, massive impact for us," Rochdale manager GaryMack said. "But he's only one player and he needs his team mates to feed him the killer passes.

On Wednesdays evidence Rochdale have found themselves someone to fire them up the table, a man who after one game has already achieved hero status. Many more performance's like this, and manager GaryMack may have pulled of the signing of the season.