13 April 2005


PSV were surprisingly done by a long ball. Bouma headed Malouda's punt into the box straight to Wiltord and he needed all his pace to hold off Alex and fire off a shot at goal which Gomes should have possibly saved. PSV's equaliser also came from a poor headed clearance. Abidal headed van Bommel's free kick towards the penalty spot, Alex controlled the ball on his chest before slamming a right foot volley into the bottom corner. Gomes dropped a Juninho corner at Cris, his shot took a deflection off Cocu and Bouma cleared off the line. From the resulting corner Cris flashed an overhead kick wide of a post. At the other end Farfan shot straight at Coupet after he spilled a cross from Beasley. A fantastic cleared by Cacapa denied PSV what would have been a certain winning goal.

In extra time Kim Milton Nielsen failed to award Lyon what was a stone wall penalty when Gomes flattened Nilmar as he chased down a pass. No one is going to like what I'm about to say but that hasn't stopped me before. When you employ referees like Nielsen, Meier and Frisk who officiate domestically week in week out in Mickey Mouse leagues in Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden respectively you are ASKING for trouble. That's not to say officials from the big leagues don't make mistakes but these three are serial offenders.

In the second period of extra time Cocu wasted Beasley's centre by shooting straight at Coupet. Onto penalties.

van Bommel : bottom left with power
Juninho : exactly the same
Ooijer : high down the middle
Essien : bottom right but not enough power, Gomes saves
Bouma : top right corner, Coupet got a touch but the shot had too much pace
Ben Arfa : At 18 this took some bottle. Bottom left with precision
Beasley : Straight down the middle, Coupet saves with his feet
Abidal : Worst penalty of the night, neither to the middle or corner but somewhere in between and Gomes saved it comfortably
Robert : Bottom left, slammed into the corner with power but at a poor height, too hot for Coupet

2-2 on aggregate, PSV win 4-2 on penalties.

Attendance : 32,500
Assists : n/a, n/a


If I paid money to watch this crap I'd be asking for a refund. In two of three matches Juve sell out at home (Milan, Real Madrid and Liverpool) they get two goalless draws.

I suppose I should congratulate Liverpool for going through, even though they didn't manage a single shot on target and as an attacking threat they sucked even worse than Juve. Ibrahimovic missed a great header in the first half. Baros, the World's dumbest forward (if there's a decision to be made, he'll make the wrong one) missed the chance of the match when half fit Xabi Alonso put him clean through. Cannavaro headed against a post, that was as close as Juve got. Cisse made a quicker than expected return to first team action with a few minutes in the second half.

The officials were unbelievably poor. I'm not sure how many offsides were called in this game but I am sure that most of them were completely wrong.

Juve rely heavily on set pieces and the flair of Nedved and Ibrahimovic therein lay three problems. Problem one is that the delivery wasn't great today, problem two is that Nedved's decline as a World Class, match winning footballer has been rapid, even taking into account his recent injuries and problem three is that without Trezeguet Ibrahimovic looks like a tall player with extravagant technique who can't finish, with Trezeguet he looks like a tall player with extravagant technique who can pass but can't finish. Speaking of passes Chelsea get a free one into the final.

Liverpool win 2-1 on aggregate.

Attendance : 55,464
Assist : n/a

12 April 2005


Bayern were all over Chelsea and if I went through all the chances they created I'd be here until the 2006 World Cup. Bayern fell behind when Lampard's shot took a deflection of Lucio leaving Kahn stranded. Cech tipped Ballack's header against the inside of a post, the ball rolled across the goal-line and Pizarro tapped into an empty net. Ballack saw another goal-bound header hacked off the line by Gudjohnsen. Cole chased down a ball that was headed out of play and swung in a cross for Drogba to score with the most brilliant of headers, similar to the one Crespo scored against Manchester United. Most teams would have crumbled but Bayern kept fighting until the end. Schweinsteiger fired in a shot, the ball struck Guerrero and flew past Cech who had decided going for a low ball in a packed penalty area was a good idea. Pizzaro held off Makelele and pulled the ball back for Scholl to slam in a last minute winner.

Chelsea have conceded 9 goals in their last 4 Champions League ties. Admittedly three of these goals were very late but they concede far too much possession and give away too many chances.

Chelsea win 6-5 on aggregate.

Attendance : 59,000
Assists : n/a, n/a, Cole, Schweinsteiger, Pizzaro


Shevchenko was lucky not to be sent off in the opening minutes for head butting Materazzi. Materazzi made a meal of it and maybe what happened at the end of the match will take UEFA's attention off the incident. In Materazzi's case what goes around comes around. Milan were almost caught from a quickly taken free kick, Veron hit a piledriver of a shot from 30 yards which Dida tipped out for a corner. Stam won possession after Veron slipped and the ball eventually found Shevchenko who was standing on the right hand edge of the box. He rolled the ball forward and sent a stunning left foot shot crashing into the bottom left corner. I don't think I've ever seen a player who could strike the ball so well, with such power off both feet. Kily Gonzalez almost scored an immediate reply but Dida made a brilliant save low to his right.

In the second half Mancini brought on Cruz for the hopeless Kily Gonzalez and Mihajlovic for professional hacker Cristiano Zanetti. Inter finally started to play football but it was too late. Adriano, superbly marshalled by Stam, made way for Martins on 51 minutes after re-aggravating his knee injury when chasing down a ball (and after Stam ran him into the ground). A clever back heel from Cruz sent Martins on his way and he brushed aside Nesta before hammering a shot at the bottom corner which Dida tipped onto a post. Seedorf's fantastic dummy sent Kaka' racing downfield, he teased Cordoba, forcing the defender into a tackle before skipping into the box and with Crespo unmarked at the back post made a complete mess of the cross, the story of his season. Inter now had Milan on the back foot but Dida was proving impossible to beat, he tipped away van der Meyde's goal-bound effort for a corner. Milan cleared for another corner and Inter finally scored but Cambiasso's goal was harshly ruled out for a phantom push on Dida by Cruz. It's after that that the Inter supporters started throwing flares, bottles and all manner of objects onto the pitch. One of the flares struck Dida, burning a hole in his shirt. As he lay on the ground clutching his shoulder and covering his head, Cafu raced over quickly followed by Stam and they lead him to safety. Dida received treatment and referee Markus Merck, his assistants and the players watched on as flares rained down onto the pitch. Dida was substituted for Abbiati before Merck lead both teams off the pitch. Play resumed ten minutes later but the missiles kept falling and within seconds the match was abandoned.

I supposed I better start with the match itself even though obviously there's no real point. Playing with two DMs and continually fouling the opposition is a very good tactic if you're protecting a lead however if you're trailing by a two goal margin it's incredibly stupid. Dida came up big again with a number of World Class saves. Fortunately he wasn't seriously hurt and only suffered first degree burns. Had he turned his face towards the oncoming flare a second later he could have lost his sight.

We all know UEFA are going to bottle it and declare the match a victory for Milan and hand Inter a ban from the San Siro. Those of us who follow Italian follow also know that these type of incidents are so common we have become desensitised to them. I was reminded of an incident a few years ago in which a MOTORBIKE was thrown from the stands. The fact that there has never been a serious incident in a Milan derby for decades isn't the issue, the issue is the FIGC (Italian FA) don't give a shit neither do the politicians and it's because they don't give a shit that the fans don't give a shit either. The difference today is that the World was watching. Whether that will pressure the authorities into doing something is another matter. Inter's security chief Stefano Filucchi said :

"Everyone knows the lads in the Curva and we don't have the legislation that in England allow clubs to ban certain supporters from the ground. If they queue up for tickets then we legally cannot turn them away at the gate."

Over to the Prime Minister.

Milan win 3-0 on aggregate.

Attendance : ?
Assist : Kaka'

6 April 2005


Inter totally dominated the first half chance. Mihajlovic drew a superb save from Dida with a free kick that was headed straight for the top corner. Veron also troubled the big Brazilian from a set piece. Inter broke after Stam lost possession, Cruz started and finished the move with a superb curling shot which Dida was once again equal to. A minute of so later Cruz gave away a free kick with a clumsy challenge on Pirlo. Pirlo dropped the ball straight onto Stam's head, 1-0. The defenders first goal for Milan.

Inter never recovered from conceding against the run of play and Milan quickly took control of the second half. Shevchenko missed a great chance to score when opting to meet a cross with a boot instead of heading the ball which is understandable given his cheekbone injury. He didn't make that mistake again and drew a foul from Mihajlovic on the right touchline after heading down a pass from Cafu. Once again Pirlo's delivery was superb, two defenders were occupied by Stam, the other two stood and watched Shevchenko head the ball into the net. The referee apologetically gave him a yellow card for removing his shirt. Karagounis hammered the ball against the post from an acute angle, Inter's only worthwhile effort of the half. Shevchenko, brimming with confidence, carried the ball down the right touchline before coming into the centre and passing to Seedorf, Seedorf returned the ball, Shevchenko turned and hit a stunning left foot shot with Toldo tipped over for a corner.

Milan won't be taking anything for granted given what happened against Deportivo last season. Inter however must be absolutely sick of them. Stam has been fabulous since the first leg of the Man United tie.

Attendance : 80,000
Assists : Pirlo fk (x2)


Duff latched onto a clearance by Kovac and volleyed the ball into Cole. He tried his luck from 20 yards and the ball took a deflection off Lucio wrong footing Kahn. Schweinsteiger smashed in the equaliser after Cech parried a shot from Ze Roberto. Lampard scored a brilliant 10 minute brace. Drogba headed on Johnson's long ball, Lampard waited for the ball to drop and cracked a left foot shot into the corner. I don't think I've seen him score with his left foot before, I know he has but it's one of those things you don't notice Just to prove it wasn't a fluke he did it again. Makelele ran onto Sagnol's hospital pass and chipped the ball into the box, Lampard, with his back to goal, bounced the ball off his chest, turned and blasted into the far corner. The humongous Dutch referee Rene Temmink failed to award Chelsea a penalty when Drogba had his shirt pulled as he shot. Drogba sealed a place in the semi-finals when he hammered home from close range after Khan had saved from Gudjohnsen. Temmink, who looks to be around 6ft 6in, gave Bayern a penalty after Ballack made the most of Carvalho's stupidity. Carvalho really show know better than to grab a player's shirt in the box. Ballack sent Cech the wrong way.

Bayern need to score twice without reply to win. Cannot see it happening and if you didn't know already Frank Lampard is THE best midfielder in the World.

Attendance : 42,000
Assists : n/a, n/a, Drogba, Makelele, n/a, Ballack (won pen)

5 April 2005


Emerson did himself an injury as he slipped when attempting to control Del Piero's pass straight from the kick off, Baros failed to capitalise. Liverpool took the lead from Gerrard's deflected corner, Hyypia the unlikely scorer with a left foot volley. Tallec dropped a pass from Finnan over Luis Garcia, he let the ball bounce once before hitting a magnificent shot, sending the ball flying into the top corner. Juve almost scored immediately from the restart, Ibrahimovic showed his outstanding skills to control a pass from Nedved before firing against the post, Nedved put the rebound wide. Liverpool started to run out of steam as Juve hit heir stride. Del Piero draw a fantastic save from Carson after exchanging passes with Nedved and had a perfectly valid header ruled out for offside.

Carson screwed up what should have been a routine save to hand Juventus a lifeline. Liverpool failed to clear a corner and Zambrotta whipped a cross to the back post, Cannavaro jumped between two players but headed into the ground, Carson punched the ball into his own net. He didn't look too hot for England's U21s in recent games either.

Juve lost Zebina to what looked like a hamstring injury late on but regardless they're looking good for a semi-final place.

Attendance : 45,000
Assists : n/a, Le Tallec, Zambrotta


To the surprise of absolutely no one Lyon took an early lead. PSV should have cleared from a throw in but Bouma was caught by Govou who laid the ball off to Wiltord, he tried to work an opening but was let down by a heavy first touch and Malouda, who took a vicious boot to the face from van Bommel in the opening minutes, fired into the corner via a deflection off Ooijer. PSV had more of the possession but Lyon were creating the chances, Essien should have extended their lead from a Wiltord cross but headed straight at Gomes. Minutes later he beat Gomes with a shot from 25 yards but the ball caught the outside of a post. Gomes, whose handling on crosses was dodgy all night made two miraculous saves from Govou. PSV scored a highly fortuitous equaliser. Cocu tried to play a ball into Park but it cannoned off a Lyon player, smacked him in the face and bounced to Park who laid it back to Cocu and he hit a perfect low shot into the corner.

PSV rode their luck something rotten in this match. I still favour Lyon to go through.

Attendance : 40,000
Assists : n/a, Park