16 March 2005


The defending champions made the worst possible start. Adriano intercepted a hospital pass and held off the challenge of George Weah's best friend Jorge Costa before shooting, the ball took wicked deflection off Pedro Emanuel and looped over Baia. Despite having a line of five players in defence Porto managed to leave Adriano unmarked on the edge of the box, he controlled Cruz's through pass before toe poking over Baia, excellent finish. Toldo gave Porto another gift when he dropped what should have been a routine catch from a corner and Jorge Costa capitalised. Another goal would have given Porto the edge on away goals but they were playing a dangerous game with their high offside trap all night. Adriano made a diagonal run past a defender as Veron lobbed a ball forward, Valente appealed for offside before showing decent pace to make ground on Adriano, Adriano shrugged off his challenge and fired between Pepe's legs past Baia.

Finally figured out how Mancini reminds me of - George Hamilton IV.

Inter win 4-2 on aggregate

Attendance : 75,000
Assists : n/a, Cruz, n/a, n/a

9 March 2005


The first half was a one way trip to dullsville but for one highlight from Ronaldo. He ran onto an excellent crossfield pass from Figo and despite his big belly and shot knees still had too much pace for Thuram but curled wide of the post.

He did the exact same thing in the second half. Beckham hit a long ball out of defence and Ronaldo trapped the ball and teased Thuram before racing downfield, he continued past Cannavaro but Buffon tipped his shot out for a corner. However it was a brief attack amidst lots of stray crosses into the box and some well timed challenges from the Real rearguard. Just before the hour mark Del Piero made way for Trezeguet. Camoranesi passed up the chance to test Casillas when he took a dive in the box after a one-two with Zalayeta on the edge of the box. Whatever he was selling, Merck (who is an excellent official even though he talks like a girl) wasn't buying. Samuel threw himself at Camoranesi's goal bound shot and from the resulting corner Zalayeta leapt above the Real defence only to head horribly, horribly wide. Pessotto had a shot blocked (why is he still playing?) and from the resulting corner Ibrahimovic flicked up the ball the outside of his right foot before volleying over with his left. Camoranesi failed to hit the target from inside the box and Trezeguet miss controlled after finding space between two defenders. At this point a Juventus goal looked like a formality so Luxemburgo performed a Ranieri level blunder by substituting Zidane for Guti. Seconds after he left the pitch Trezeguet scored. Bobby Carlos lost possession to Zebina and Zalayeta laid off the Frenchman's pass to Camoranesi, Camoranesi finally got a delivery right and dropped the ball onto Ibrahimovic's head, Ibrahimovic flicked the ball back across goal, it bounced high in the air, Trezeguet quickly shifted his weight, went up for an overhead kick and slammed the ball into the roof of the net. Fabulous finish and one few players in the World are capable of. Blunder #2 was Solari coming on for Beckham which left Real Madrid with only one out in midfield (Figo) and one in attack (Ronaldo). Ronaldo won a free kick about 40 yards from goal. Bobby Carlos sent a cracking shot straight at Buffon and he punched the ball straight back, fortunately for him his defence cleared. Ibrahimovic blew a chance to end the tie inside 90 minutes when he blazed over after Trezeguet dummied Solari's sliced clearance.

In an uneventful first period of extra time Owen replaced Raul and arrived just in time to see Zalayeta volley wide of the post. In the second period Ronaldo was sent off for 'kicking' Tacchinardi and Tacchinardi apparently for elbowing earlier in that play. I didn't see an elbow and Ronaldo barely made contact, if he made contact at all but the intent was certainly there and given the unbelievably good job done by the officials in this match you can't really argue with either dismissal. In the 116th minute Juve finally decided to play some football and forced a throw in after some nice passing down the right. Zebina throw the ball to Camoranesi, he was allowed time to measure a cross, Trezeguet flicked on the ball, Bravo cleared a far as Zalayeta and from the edge of the D he hammered a right footed shot into the bottom corner to the rare sound of blood curdling roars from almost 70,000 Juventino. Ibrahimovic should have added a second in injury time but having left the Real defence for dead he stepped inside Guti and almost found the corner flag with a diabolical shot.

Raul Bravo. I can just imagine John Kabira screaming LEEDS at the top of his voice. It is somewhat understandable that Real showed no urgency, at least in the first half, but once Trezeguet came on the ball was sticking in attack and they should have reacted instead of wandering around with their thumbs up their arses. Granted Zidane did nothing but knowing full well a goal for Juve would send the tie into extra time replacing one of the players who can produce that one moment of magic for one that can only produce against the also-rans of La Liga is one sided victories was immeasurably stupid. You can bet Real won't be looking forward to their next meeting with Juve. They got owned, again. In his first season in Spain Owen watches his new team get KTFO and his old team progress to the last 8. Oh the irony.

Attendance : 68,841
Red Cards : Ronaldo 113 (Real Madrid), Tacchinardi 113 (Juventus)
Assists : Ibrahimovic, n/a

Juventus win 2-1 on aggregate.


Liverpool had early shouts for a penalty when Callsen-Bracker brought down Baros. Looked a clear penalty to me. Gerrard drew a fantastic save from Butt with a trademark piledriver from the edge of the box. I don't really understand why Butt isn't picked ahead of Kahn for the die Mannschaft. Leverkusen did a terrible job of clearing the resulting corner giving Gerrard another chance to swing in a cross, Garcia just beat Placente to the ball and poked past Butt - poke mein arsch as they say in German. Garcia grabbed a second with an opportune piece of finishing, redirecting Biscan's header, from a Gerrard corner, past Butt. An excellent save denied him a first half hat-trick. Baros smashed in a third after Fritz's casual clearance backfired and Krzynowek scored a fine consolation goal after Liverpool lost interest to the tune of Rocking All Over the World by Status Quo. I guess it beats David Hasselhoff. They also played "You'll Never Walk Alone at full time". Germans are a class act.

Maybe it's just me but I didn't think Leverkusen's late goal would make an ounce of difference as to the outcome of this tie and I'm not saying that with the benefit of hindsight either, I said that after the first leg.

Liverpool win 6-2 on aggregate.

Attendance : 22,500
Assists : Gerrard, Gerrard (ck), n/a, Placente


PSV took the lead completely against the run of play when Vennegoor or Hesselink powerfully headed in Van Bommel's corner. It was a similar story in the second half. Gomes made a wonderful save from Chevanton. Park gave Maicon and Rodriguez the run around on the touchline before rolling a pass into the box, Cocu helped the ball onto Beasley and he slammed into the roof of the net. Givet was sent off for chopping down Farfan. He didn't make a great deal of contact. Chevanton, the only Monaco player who threatened Gomes' goal, drew another excellent save from the Brazilian. Gomes at 24 is the ideal long term replacement for Dida.

PSV win 3-0 on aggregate.

Attendance : 16,000
Red Card : Givet 77 (Monaco)
Assists : van Bommel, Cocu


A dreadful performance by Arsenal. Paddy had an effort from 30 yards. It was well struck and had the goal been about 40 foot wide he may have caught the inside post. Kovac threw himself into a tackle as Reyes was about to take a pass from Henry (it's a good job Reyes jumped otherwise he'd be in hospital with two broken legs) the ball broke to Henry and he held off Lucio before forcing Kahn into making a fine save with his feet. In the second half Henry pulled down a long ball from Cole with his right before shooting into the bottom corner with his left. Lemon made a fantastic save to deny Ballack. In the 89th minute Bergkamp, who like the rest of his team-mates was largely anonymous, dragged a shot wide of the post.

There's nothing to add to what hasn't already been said many times in the past. Arsenal struggle against teams that defend deep and are limited tactically i.e. they only play 4-4-2 and have no threat in the air. More than a new goalkeeper, striker and depth in defence Arsenal need to send Wenger on a coaching course because he's a mental midget, quite possibly the most limited coach in the entire league and I mean EPL never mind the Champions League. Wenger is simply to stubborn to admit that his limited tactics aren't good enough at this level. I can imagine the spin he'll put on this result. In anycase the Champions League is the least of Arsenal's worries over the new few years, domestically they've got their hands full challenging Chelsea and Manchester United for the title or, to be more precise, Liverpool for third place.

Bayern win 3-2 on aggregate.

Attendance : 35,463
Assist : Cole

8 March 2005


Lampard had already gone close before Gudjohnsen gave Chelsea the lead on aggregate. Lampard robbed Xavi of possession and sent Kezman racing downfield, Kezman crossed to Gudjohnsen who turned inside Gerard before firing into the net. A speculative shot from Cole took a deflection off Oleguer wrong footing Valdes and Lampard whacked in the rebound. Cole also had a hand in the third. Kezman back heeled Ferreira's pass into Cole, he volleyed the ball onto Duff and Duff flew past Iniesta before shooting first time between Valdes' legs. That should have been game, set and match but a hugely debatable penalty gave Barca a lifeline. Belletti swung a cross into the box, the ball struck Ferreira's arm (he was facing the opposite direction) and Collina pointed to the spot. Ronaldinho converted and 11 minutes later when faced with a posse of Chelsea players he tried a shimmy to no avail them, from a standing position, top poked the ball in off the post, sort of a like a free kick. Duff missed a great chance to put Chelsea back in control when he slipped after Valdes tipped a shot from Cole onto a post.

Only one goal in the second half but plenty of chances with Cech pulled out all the stops. First he tipped a wicked strike from Belletti just wide of the post. Then saved on line as Carles 'Bam Bam' Puyol connected with Xavi's corner. Puyol and Sylvinho threw themselves at the ball was Gudjohnsen pulled the trigger from Kezman's deflected cross. Iniesta skipped past Gallas before firing a shot against the outside of a post, Johnson kicked free air as he tried to clear and with the goal at his mercy Eto'o blasted into row Z. Carvalho pulled back Valdes as he jumped for a corner and Terry headed into the net. Given the bullshit red card in the Nou Camp and bullshit penalty it's poetic justice that Barca went out to screwy decision. Collina always evens these things out in the end. In the last minute Chelsea broke with Lampard but instead of picking out two players that had joined the attack he ran the ball into the corner flag. This would be applauded in Italy and considered a stain on the face of humanity in Spain. Ronaldinho won Barca an injury time free kick but Deco failed to trouble Cech.

I didn't expect Barca to put up such a fight without Marquez. Chelsea won't face another team that press and attack at this pace but they still need to make better use of their possession and not attack at 100mph.

Chelsea win 5-4 on aggregate

Attendance : 42,449
Assists : Kezman, n/a, Cole, n/a, Iniesta, Duff (ck)


The first chance arrived after Milan broke from a rare Manchester United attack. Pirlo intercepted a pass from Scholes and passed to Kaka' who back heeled to Rui Costa, Costa passed to Seedorf and he ran 60 yards before finding Crespo. He had 90% of the goal to aim at but shot exactly where Howard was standing at his near post. Pirlo's hospital pass presented the visitors with their best chance. Keane intercepted and van Nistelrooy ran the heart of the Milan defence before a quick change in direction and pass out wide to Giggs left the Welshman in the clear on his left foot but he shot against the outside of a post. Brazilian's Cafu and Kaka' combined on the right, Kaka's poor cross was stabbed back to him by Brown, he headed back to Cafu, Brown failed to clear again and Kaka' ran onto the ball and rattled the crossbar.

Giggs went off with possibly a broken nose after Gattuso's elbow struck him in the face when they challenged for a cross. A fantastic tackle from Ferdinand denied Crespo what would have been a certain goal. Howard threw the ball at Ronaldo but Seedorf forced him into loosing possession before quickly taking a free kick and passing to Rui Costa. Rui Costa, Kaka' and Seedorf exchanged passes before Seedorf rolled the ball to Gattuso. It should have been obvious Cafu was next because Gattuso usually passes to Cafu and sure enough he did, Cafu hit a perfect left foot cross to the back post but Crespo wastefully headed over. Minutes later Nesta hit a 60 yard pass upto Cafu (Baresi would have been proud) who was standing in acres of space on the touchline with Silvestre, who should have been covering, nearer to the box, this time Cafu swung in a right footed cross and Crespo, from a tight angle wide on the left, sent a header looping over Howard. An offside flag and outstanding clearance by Ferdinand denied him a second. Kaka' muscled his way past Keane, as Keane fell he landed on top of the ball and it brushed against an arm. Clear penalty, not given. Good job it wasn't decisive. Van Nistelrooy blew the chance of scoring a consolation goal and Gattuso almost, almost capped off what was a fantastic individual performance (this is why Ancelotti always rests him before big games) when he played a one-two with Seedorf before breaking two tackles and passing into Kaka', Kaka' returned the ball with a typically extravagant back heel AS HE TURNED but Gattuso, under pressure from Heinze, dragged his shot just wide of the post.

United couldn't handle the pressing and Milan won every second ball. Keane, who has been tremendous in the league, couldn't get a grip on midfield. Gattuso was outstanding. It was clear early on that the visitors were nervous which, given the age of some of the players, is understandable. Taggart will get criticised for this but I don't think there's anything he could have done tactically to change the outcome of this tie. United were simply beaten by the better and more experienced team. With regards to 1999 and United's historic come back win over Juve as I have been saying for YEARS Milan are different proposition to every other Italian club in Europe. Past and present history tells you that.

Milan win 2-0 on aggregate

Attendance : 79,103
Assist : Cafu


It only took 12 minutes. Wiltord, showing the type of first touch that so often eluded him at Arsenal, took a pass from Malouda before slotting into the bottom comer. Their defences are broken, let the slaughter begin. Five minutes later Govou slipped when attempting to back heel the ball over his head, he quickly got to his feet did Pasanen with a mini Cryuff turn and rolled the ball to Essien via Malouda's step over and from about 25 yards he blasted into the bottom corner. Essien then latched onto a hospital pass, flicked the ball past Magnin, slowed down as Reinke came off his line then turned on the afterburners leaving Reinke for dead and tapped into an empty net. Micoud fired home after a mistake by Cris.

Malouda intercepted a clearance and passed to Govou who in turn hit a perfectly weighted pass with the outside of his foot to Wiltord and he shot first time over Reinke. Ernst won a penalty with a dive which drew half hearted protests from Lyon. If your team were 7-1 up on aggregate you wouldn't give a shit either. Ismael converted before Malouda grabbed the goal he so richly deserved. Govou and Wiltord exchanged passes, Govou passed to Malouda who had his back to play and as he turned feigned to shoot taking out Magnin, then hammered the ball inside the post. Another fabulous goal. Essien won possession inside his own half and Nilmar sent Govou down the right he fired the ball to the back post for Wiltord to complete his hat-trick and Govou's FOURTH assist. That's just crazy. Fahrenhorst bundled over Nilmar and Berthod completed the biggest aggregate victory in Champions League history from the spot. GOOD LORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Imagine watching a team play like Arsenal do against the jobbers in the EPL in the champions league. Well that's what you have with Lyon. Malouda, Govou and Wiltord attack with the frenzied pace of Henry. They also have Essien, a box to box midfielder ala Lampard only he's a lot quicker and the best dead ball specialist in the World (Juninho) and Nilmar. Do yourself a favour and watch this match. This is the blueprint for fast attacking and counter attacking football.

Lyon win 10-2 on aggregate

Attendance : 38,922
Assists : Malouda, Govou, n/a, n/a, Govou, Ernst (won pen), Govou, Govou,
Nilmar (won pen)

23 February 2005


Despite having a monopoly on possession in and around the penalty area Cech wasn't tested because of Barca's wayward finishing. Chelsea took the lead completely against the run of play. Lampard found Duff with superb long ball out of defence, Duff pulled the ball across goal and with Cole hanging on his shoulder Belletti turned the ball past Valdes. Minutes later a fantastic pass from Makelele spilt the Barca defence and sent Drogba clean through but he shot wide, costly, costly miss.

Drogba went in for a 50-50 ball with Valdes, both players went down hurt and Frisk gave Drogba a second yellow. Frisk is a Hoyzer. The sending off and introduction of Maxi Lopez for the hugely disappointing Giuly (and that goes for the whole season) changed the game. Eto'o, standing with his back to goal on the edge of the box, helped Ronaldinho's pass onto to Lopez whose sudden dummy gave him a yard on Gallas and he crashed the ball past Cech. Six minutes later Eto'o got between Ferreira and Carvalho to stab Lopez's cross/shot into the net.

Chelsea refused to come out for the press conference because Rijkaard was seen talking to Frisk at half time. This is almost certainly another ploy by Mourinho to gain sympathy from whoever officiates in the return. Like a whore's legs this one is wide open.

Attendance : 98,198
Red Card : Drogba 56 (Chelsea)
Assists : n/a


The Mancs had major problems in coping with Milan one touch laden passing game but had the best of the first half chances. Carroll was a spectator as Seedorf's free kick crashed off the crossbar. Fortune did a number on Nesta before picking out Scholes free in space inside the box. With all the time in the World he controlled the ball then shot horribly wide. Fortune wasted a glorious chance on the break on one of the rare occasions in which Ronaldo managed to find himself in space. The Portuguese winger powered downfield before passing to Fortune his awful first touch prompted Dida to dive at his feet but with an empty net to aim at he lobbed wide.

Milan rode a sustained period of pressure before creating two excellent chances. The first was blocked by Brown and the second, following a trademark surging run from Kaka', ended with a horrible finish after Crespo escaped Ferdinand. He made amends shortly after when pouncing on a blunder by Carroll. Several Milan players had tried their luck with shots from distance throughout but this time Carroll spilled from Seedorf. Kaka' should have made the second leg academic but having been presenting with the gift of a hospital pass from Silvestre dribbled into the box and shot wide and did the same minutes later when he intercepted a pass from Scholes. Van Nistelrooy, on as a second half substitute for Ronaldo, missed a late chance to equalise.

Attendance : 64,000
Assist : n/a


Govou miss-kicked Malouda's cross and while the Bremen defence were appealing for offside Wiltord blasted the ball past Reinke. Bremen were in total control and would have been in front but for some excellent saves by Coupet. After a bizarre passage of play in which Bremen continually presented the French champions with the ball deep inside their own area Lyon scored a brilliant second. Clement laid off Juninho's pass to the onrushing Diarra and he hit an almighty shot into the bottom corner. Not to be outdone the magnificent Juninho scored with one of the most extraordinarily long range free kicks you're likely to see.

Lyon are fabulous to watch and I would love to see them go all the way this season.

Attendance : 36,923
Assists : Govou, Clement, Nilmar (won fk)


A simple opening goal in this tie. Favalli sent Stankovic down the left and he shrugged off a defender before centring for Martins to tap in. A mistake by Toldo gave Porto the equaliser. Valente slung a cross towards the back post, Toldo ran off his line to punch clear but missed, Costinho fired the ball across the line and Ricardo Costa arrived to smash into the net. Baia made a fantastic save to deny Cambiasso what would have been a spectacular winner.

Having gone unbeaten all season wouldn't it be ironic if Inter were eliminated on away goals?

Attendance : 38,117
Assists : Stankovic, n/a

22 February 2005


As John Fashanu once said "Route one, the best way and the only way". Kahn launched a goal kick deep into Arsenal's half, Pizarro latched onto Toure's awful header and drilled the ball between Lemon's legs. The remaining 41 minutes were unbelievably poor.

Pizarro capitalised on more slack defending by Toure to head in a free kick. Salihamidzic crashed home a third after Lemon failed to tip over a cross. An offside flag denied Bayern a fourth. Toure gave Arsenal a glimmer of hope for the return leg when he capitalised on an awful clearance by Sagnol.

Arsenal are more than capable of scoring the two goals they need to progress but keeping a clean sheet seems beyond them.

Attendance : 59,000
Assists : n/a, Frings (fk), n/a, n/a


Biscan rode a tackle and skipped past Ramelow before playing in Luis Garcia with a perfectly weighted pass, Garcia broke the offside trap and shot between Butt's legs. Berbatov should have drew his side level when Finnan's hospital pass out him through on goal but he shot wide of Dudek. Riise blasted in a second with a fabulous free kick. Traore denied Voronin twice with superb last ditch tackles. Baros wastefully shot at Butt having been sent clear by Riise. From the resulting corner the luckless Carragher, who can't buy a goal, was denied by an outstanding save. Butt was again helpless as Hamann sent a free kick dipping over the wall and into the bottom corner. Having made brilliant saves from Freier and Schneider, Dudek failed to hold a speculative but tame shot and Franca ensured the second leg would be interesting by poking in a last second away goal.

If Traore and Biscan could play like this every week Liverpool would be pushing the top three for the title instead of fighting for fourth spot. Despite Franca's late goal, Liverpool should progress.

Attendance : 40,942
Assists : Biscan, Kewell (won fk), Le Tallec (won fk), n/a


Monstrous Brazilian defender Alex headed in van Bommel's corner. Crap match.

Attendance : 31,225
Assist : van Bommel (ck)


Salgado had to be substituted after 11 minutes following a knee on knee collision with Nedved. Given Nedved's recent knee problems he's lucky not to have got hurt. Raul crashed a shot against the crossbar after Roberto Carlos skinned Zebina on the right before firing in his trademark wild cross. Casillas saved brilliantly from Emerson shortly before Helguera headed in a free kick. I spoke too soon, Nedved was KTFO following a clash of heads with Bravo and had to be stretchered off after 36 minutes. I don't know what he's done to deserve such rotten luck with injuries recently, maybe he buggered a Leprechaun or something. In the second half the woodwork once again came to Juve's rescue when Samuel headed against the inside of a post. Ibrahimovic blew a great chance to steal a point late on.

Trezeguet and Nedved should be fit for the return but against Real failure to score an away goal could be crucial.

Attendance : 31,225
Assist : Beckham (fk)