7 April 2004


Luyindula had a goal incorrectly dissalowed for offside just before Maniche ended Lyon's hopes when Deco split the Lyon defence with an outrageous pass. Malouda tore down the left before whipping a cross into Luyindula, the ball bounced off his thigh but he reacted quickly to beat Baia to the ball and volley in the equaliser. Essien should have put Lyon in front but skyed his shot after Baia came off his line and ended up on his backside after getting nowhere near a cross. Baia maybe famous for his blunders but he is also capable of making spetacualr saves as he showed when he leapt accross goal and tipped Eleber's goalbound effort one handed out for a corner. Having round Coupet Carlos Alberto decided to take a dive in the box in an obvious attempt to get the 'keeper sent off but Frisk wasn't buying it.

Seconds after Coupet had denied McCarthy he was picking the ball out of his net. A beautiful passing move on the left wing ended with Deco hitting a sublime volleyed pass to the back post and once again Maniche rammed the ball into the net. Edmilson earned a second yellow for pulling back Paulo Ferreira. Elber headed in a late consolation goal.

Porto win 4-2 on aggregate.

Assists : Deco, Malouda, Deco, Malouda
Red Card : Edmilson 74 (Lyon)


Milan could have settled this inside the first five minutes. Shevchenko's header was scrmabled to safety and Tomasson hit a tame volley at Mollina from Cafu's deflected cross. Maldini gave Pandiani time and space to turn in the box and his well placed low shot beat Dida. Minutes later Victor's deflected effort bounced off a post. Kaka' wasted a great chance on the break, finding himself in space on the left after a slip by Andrade he ran straight at Mollina and the 'keeper blocked his shot allowing his defence to clear. Depor were unfazed and cotinued to lay siege to the Milan goal. Dida made one of his wonder saves to deny Valeron and had to the post to thank for 'keeping out Victor's effort. Dida went missing on Luque's cross and Valeron headed into an empty net. Netsa completed a hat-trick of amatuer hour mistakes when his awful, awful attempt at controlling a long ball from Mollina's goal kick was pounced on by Luque and he raced into the box before slamming the ball into the roof of the net.

The Champions failed to turn the tide in the second half and meekly surrened their crown when Gattuso's slip allowed substitute Fran to get on the end of a deep cross and his shot flew in off Cafu. Within minutes of coming on as a substute Rui Costa established himself as Milan's best player, forcing Mollina into a great save with a shot from distance then saw a second effort take a deflection into the welcomings arms of Depor 'keeper.

Easily the biggest choke job of the season. The Milan defence gifted Depor all four goals. Depor, suprisingly, battered Milan physically and panic set in very quickly after Pandiani's early opener. Milan's defence has been very poor in recent weeks and the return of Nesta did little to stem the tide. Depor must be congratulated for showing incredible spirit and not giving up after a heavy first leg loss. One of the best comebacks of all time and one of the biggest choke jobs.

"We certainly didn't expect this and something happened that is beyond explanation. There were all the signs that the team was concentrated and we had that early warning from Real Madrid's exit. We came up against a team that was having an incredible night where everything went in its favour. There were also some errors, but the rest is inexplicable."

"Deportivo were certainly determined and kept that up from the opening whistle to the closing one, while a goal after just five minutes gave them that extra conviction. It has to be said that their performance must be praised."

Deportivo win 5-4 on aggregate.

Assists : Romero, Luque

6 April 2004


Henry wasted two early chances. He ran onto an Edu through pass but shot far too early, far from goal. Reyes sent him clear with a peach of a pass and this time his shot was nearer to the corner flag then to goal. A delicious step over from Gudjohnsen allowed Duff to burst forward from midfield, an exquisite first touch left Toure sprawled on the turf and he did the same to Campbell with a sharp turn but just as he shot Edu slid in with a brilliant tackle. It was a rare Chelsea counter as Arsenal continued to create and waste chances, Pires guilty, and not for the first time this week, of a shocking miss. As Jimmy protested over the none award of a none foul Pires sprayed the ball wide to Ralph, Henry headed his cross against Ljungberg and Reyes volleyed past Ambrosia creamed rice to give Arsenal a deserved lead. Incredibly the first goal Chelsea have conceded away from home in Europe all season.

Makelele latched onto a loose ball and tried his luck from distance, Lemon should have cleared the ball for a corner but parried back into play gifting Lampard the equaliser. Lampard, who is now one of the finest midfielders in Europe, hit one of his trademark piledrivers just wide of a post. Ambrosia creamed rice saved a well struck effort from Reyes, one of the few saves he had to make in the match (though that was largely down to poor finishing). Both coaches made late substitutions, Wenger incredibly taking off Henry (for Bergkamp) and Ranieri threw on Cole for Duff. Tinkerman's gamble paid off as Cole had an immediate impact. With his back to goal he received a ball from Bridge and his sharp turn and pass took out Lemon leaving Gudjohnsen with what appeared to be a certain goal but Ashley Cole made a sensational 'goal-line' clearance though the ball may have actually crossed the line. With Henry watching from the bench Arsenal wilted and it was no surprise when Chelsea hit the winner minutes from time. Bridge played a one-two with Gudjohnsen before showing the poise Henry lacked in the first half and calmly stroking the ball into the corner.

The Beatles once sang 'Money can't buy you love' yes it can. It was surprising to see Arsenal send so many crosses into the box given their forwards lack of prowess in the air. Having seemingly overcome their European stage fright Wenger is no nearer to winning the Champions League then he was last season. Arsenal still lack variation in attack, are still too dependent on Henry and still need a new goalkeeper, it's not as if several of us didn't warn Wenger before he signed Lemon. One of the three will be addressed in the summer with Frey's arrival, I'm not so sure about the other two.

Chelsea win 3-2 on aggregate

Assists : Ljungberg, Gudjohnsen


Monaco appeared to be suffering from stage fright as Real immediately took control and as early as the fifth minute Raul, who was to have what can only be described as a dramatic match, just failed to connect with Bobby Carlos' teasing cross. Zidane then nonchalantly skipped a tackle before forcing Roma to save his audacious lob. Monaco's first chance fell to Giuly but having had his initial effort from a corner charged down he shot wide on the rebound. Morientes stung former team-mate Casillas' palms after Rothen laid off a free kick. Just as the French leaders were beginning to build momentum Real scored a wonderful goal. There were at least 18 passes in a move which stretched the length of the field. Real were confidently stroking the ball around before a Zidane flick sent away Ronaldo, his centre was cleverly dummied by Guti and Raul curled first time into the top corner . Unfazed, Monaco hit back on the stroke of half time. Morientes headed down Evra's hopeful cross and Giuly struck the ball on the volley, sending it bouncing beyond Casillas.

Monaco maintained the momentum immediately into the second half start. Evra swung a deep cross into the box and Mejia was no match for master predator Morientes who easily rose above the young defender to send a header looping over Casillas. He certainly showed little restraint in celebrating against the club that had so foolishly cast him aside like he was a piece of garbage after giving him less then a paltry 450 minutes of playing time in the previous season following the arrival of the latest so called Galactico - Ronaldo. Morientes should have scored a second minutes later but having got goal side of what can only loosely be described as his marker he weakly shot straight at Casillas. Monaco didn't have to wait long for the crucial third goal. Cisse carried the ball forward then played wide to Ibarra who, confronted by Bobby Carlos, did what everyone should do in that situation i.e. ran straight at him before sending a speculative shot goalwards, Cisse let the ball run between his legs and the irrepressible Giuly back heeled past Casillas. Salgado became the second Real played to take a well earned shot to the puds when Rothen inadvertently kicked the ball at his nether regions. From the resulting corner Nonda, having returned from a long, long injury lay off, headed against the post. Roma presented the visitors with a free pass into the semi-finals when he sent a goalkick straight at Zidane, Zidane threaded the ball through to Raul who controlled and turned in one, majestic motion - before hitting an Inzaghi finish. Real's spectacular failure at playing offside (basic defending is beyond them let alone anything as complex as holding a line) presented Monaco with another chance and Nonda skinned the unfortunate Borja before centring for Adebayor and the giant striker volleyed against the post. Deep, deep into injury time Raul wasted another glorious chance after Zidane dropped a near 40 yard cross onto his feet.

There was only one Galactico on the pitch today and he wasn't playing for Real Madrid. Giuly outshone everyone, even Morientes who had a fairytale revenge match.

5-5 on aggregate, Monaco win on away goals

Assists : Ronaldo, Morientes, Evra, Ibarra

24 March 2004

REAL MADRID 4-2 MONACO Giuly was having his way with the Real Madrid defence, taking full advantage of Bobby Carlos' absence. Raul and Ronaldo were guilty of some awful finishing, Ronaldo managed to head wide 2 feet from goal. Zidane struck the post and Casillas saved brilliantly from Giuly twice. Monaco took a shock lead when Real failed to clear a corner. Giuly attempted to shoot but slipped as he turned, the ball broke for Squillaci, he was fouled by jobber Mejia but got enough on the ball to beat Casillas.

Having threatened on the break in the first half Monaco couldn't get a grip in the second and kept cheaply conceding possession on the rare occasions they had the ball. Helguera punished Roma for going missing on a corner. There was some confusion as if the goal ad been given as a Monaco player cleared after the ball had crossed the line. Zidane scored on a rebound after Roma parried Figo's shot at him. Squillaci chopped down Ronaldo to concede a penalty. Figo's kick was brilliantly saved by Roma, Rodriguez failed to punish Figo for his initial hesitancy as the ball bounced back into play. Zidane found Ronaldo unmarked on the edge of the box and he swept the ball into the corner. Despite having returned from injury (and still being fat) he looked sharp all night. Immediately after scoring he was substituted and surprise, surprise, Morientes headed in less then 2 minutes later.

Monaco need to win by a 2 goal margin and keep the score below this (i.e. 4-2) in order to preserve their away goal advantage. They are more than capable of scoring two but given how they defended in this match there's no way they'll keep Real out at the other end.

Assists : Giuly, Beckham (ck), Zidane, Bernardi


Campbell, who is normally very good in the air, headed a Bergkamp free kick wide of the post. Lemon rushed out of the box to intercept a Terry longball but only got as far as Gudjohnsen's shins and he calmly steered the ball into the bottom corner of an empty net. Arsenal levelled from a cross(!!!) Pires beating Ambrosia creamed rice with a low header.

A predictable stalemate in this battle of the food giants, Campbell's meat balls (he'll always clear the table but not his lines) and Ambrosia creamed rice. Arsenal should spare Chelsea embarrassment against Real Madrid by finishing off their rich neighbours at Highbury.

Assist : Cole

23 March 2004

Depor did what Juve and Parma recently failed to do in the league, punish Milan for some sloppy early defending. Having cheaply gave away a corner, the European Champions ball watching a short as Pandiani headed in Capdevila's cross. Kaka', Seedorf, Shevchenko and Inzaghi all wasted chances as Milan's thirty something defenders, Pancaro and Cafu, served up some glorious crosses. Costacurta pressed Mauro Silva into losing possession deep in his half and fed Cafu who again delivered an inviting cross but this time Kaka' took his chance brilliantly. He bounced the ball off his left knee before smashing a right foot volley into the bottom corner.

Having been hit by a killer late goal Shevchenko crushed Depor's spirits further seconds into the restart. A clever flick on the turn took him past Andrade, he, predictably, left Mauro Silva for dead, then a drop of the shoulder wrong footed Naybet leaving him with the simple task of picking his spot. Having won the ball Mauro Silva foolishly tried a back heel in his own penalty area, Seedorf stripped him of possession then fed Kaka' who took one touch to control, one to shoot, 3-1. Pirlo completed the rout with a brilliant free kick. Some terrible offside calls spared Depor further humiliation.

This is how Milan have been playing in the league since the turn of the year and if this is how Mauro Silva has been playing that explains Depor's league performances. I decided to watch this on ITV just to see what they had to say. McCoist is great, he really is. He took Des to task over his criticism of the defending in last years final. Everyone kept referring to Milan as 'AC' which is as stupid as calling a club FC. My heart sank when I heard Des hand over to Peter Drury but for the first time EVER I actually enjoyed his work. What he needs to learn is his usual pretentious, over elaborate, eulogizing shtick isn't appropriate for a run of the mill EPL match.

Assists : Capdevila, Cafu, Pancaro, Seedorf, Shevchenko (won fk)


Coupet flung himself across goal to tip away Costina's goal bound header. A fantastic block prevented Govou from giving Lyon a crucial away goal. Deco gave Porto the lead with a somewhat fortuitous goal on half time. Porto broke from defence, Carlos Alberto sent a cross from the left and McCarthy's volley deflected in off Deco. Ricardo Carvalho lifted the tedium in this niggly match with a header from Deco's free kick.

2-0 in not an insurmountable lead. You couldn't pay me enough money to watch the return leg, this was dreadful.

Assists : McCarthy, Deco (fk)