5 April 2006
JUVENTUS 0-0 ARSENAL
Juve almost got a crucial early breakthrough when Zambrotta latched onto a clearance and flashed a half volley wide of a post. He was then turned by Henry but with a clear sight of goal he shot straight at Buffon. Flamini should have been sent off for slamming an elbow towards Nedved's throat. Reyes stupidly ruled himself out of the first leg of the semi-final by picking up a yellow card for time wasting.
Gilberto broke up an attack and passed to Henry who played a one-two with Hleb before racing away from Cannavaro but he overran the ball allowing Buffon to claim. Lehmann was finally troubled by a stinging half volley from Nedved who pissed away Juve's fading hopes of staging an impossible comeback by chopping down Eboue and getting his second yellow, the first was also for a foul on Eboue. The defender recovered to help set-up a chance for Hleb but having got past Cannavaro, Kovac held firm forcing him to shoot wide. Cesc released Ljungberg with a fabulous pass but with just Buffon to beat an appalling touch let him down.
I don't expect Capello to be at Juve next season. Charitable finishing sparred them further humiliation.
Arsenal win 2-0 on aggregate
Attendance : 50,000
Red Card : Nedved 77 (Juventus)
Assists : n/a
BARCELONA 2-0 BENFICA
Petit slapped down a van Bommel cross to concede a fifth minute penalty. Moretto made a fantastic save from Ronaldinho. van Bommel and Eto'o forced Beto into a mistake deep in his own half, Eto'o ran the line, skinned Anderson and pulled the ball back for Ronaldinho to tap into the corner. Eto'o should have made it 2-0 but after a Valdes goalkick paralysed the Benfica defence, Eto'o lobbed high over the bar. Moretto, who got about as much help from his defenders in this match as he did in the last i.e. none, was called into action again after Leo sliced a clearance to van Bommel.
Benfica's best chance came, surprise, surprise, on the break. Miccoli gathered a long ball out of defence and crossed to Simao who had hurtled into the box, the ball popped up off his chest and as Valdes came off his line leaving the goal gaping, he shot wide. Eto'o wasted another one vs one against Moretto. Valdes parried a Karagounis long ranger but no one was on hand to take advantage. Eto'o put Benfica out of their misery minutes later when he rifled a fine pass from Giuly past Moretto.
I wouldn't be surprised to see one of the giants pick up Luisao. Deco will miss the first leg of the semi-final through suspension. Eto'o is also on a yellow so no doubt the Milan defenders will do their best to provoke him into picking up another one.
Barcelona win 2-0 on aggregate
Attendance : 90,000
Assists : Eto'o, Giuly
4 April 2006
MILAN 3-1 LYON
A loose tackle allowed Seedorf to release Serginho down the left flank but Cacapa floored Inzaghi as he met the Brazilian's cross. Lyon wasted two great chances to take the lead. Wiltord didn't have the legs to take advantage of a miss kick by Dida, the ball took a wicked bobble off the turf as he set himself to punt upfield. A mistake by Kaladze forced Dida off his line and as he blocked from Fred the ball fell at Malouda's feet and with an empty net to aim at he lobbed over the bar. Juninho's first free kick, from 35 yards left wide of goal, was his best but Dida saved brilliantly. Milan took the lead shortly after Stam made way for Costacurta, a pure coincidence. Under no real pressure Fred gave a hospital pass to Shevchenko who immediately sprayed the ball wide to Seedorf and his first time cross was met by a super header Inzaghi. Juninho launched a free kick into the box, the ball popped up in the air after hitting Fred and Diarra beat everyone to the jump to equalise. Juninho's dipping cross was tipped over the bar and from the resulting corner Fred headed against the post. Cris should have been sent off for kicking out at Inzaghi twice after they fell challenging for a ball, instead Inzaghi was booked for his reaction. The ref was the pits.
Either side of half time Nesta missed two free headers. Coupet made a great save from Serginho at his near post and should have been picking the ball out his net minutes later but Seedorf wastefully shot wide after Cacapa was forced into a hurried clearance. Milan were now on top and turning the screw, Wiltord made a brilliant 'goal-line' clearance from Kaka' though I'm convinced the ball crossed the line. With Ambrosini now on in place of the God awful Pirlo and Maldini on for Gattuso (allowing Serginho to push up further) Lyon were getting owned in midfield but appeared to have ridden out the storm as the clock ticked away. Costacurta, who is a damn fine passer of the ball, hit a long ball into the box, which Abidal should have cleared, he lost Shevchenko who had all the time in the World to set himself for a shot, Coupet tipped the ball against the outside of his right post, it rolled across the line and bounced off the left and Inzaghi beat Kaka' to the rebound to scramble over the line. Juninho had one last free kick which he sent straight into Dida's arms. Clerc, under pressure from Inzaghi, was forced into a backpass and Shevchenko pounced, going past Coupet and rolling the ball into the bottom corner. He now ties Di Stefano's total of 49 goals and is 2 behind the all time top scorer Raul.
Lyon had this in the bag and were it not for Dida and some terrible finishing Milan would have been dead and buried. Lyon's players must have been listening to ITV's commentary, who did a major stitch-up job on Milan, claiming the players were too old, playing like crap and were on their way out. Apparently before the match Lyon's president said they were banging on the door of history - they can bang all they like, they're not coming in. Pirlo has to be dropped immediately, he was beyond awful. Ancelotti has Vogel and Ambrosini to call on, who are far better options.
Milan win 3-1 on aggregate
Attendance : 78,894
Assists : Seedorf, Fred, n/a, n/a
VILLARREAL 1-0 INTER
Jose Mari had the first chance, showing the type of finishing Milan supporters remember him for by wasting a great cross from the right. Sorin tried to con the ref into awarding a penalty as Materazzi blocked him from getting to Forlan's clever back heel. Materazzi had a giant tattoo on his left forearm with the word LION and XIX VIII MCMLXXIII (19.08.1973). I imagine some people may have problems remembering their date of birth but that is taking the piss. After some horrible long range finishing from Riquelme, Tacchinardi headed wide from a corner. I guarantee had he still been wearing a Juve shirt he would have scored.
Riquelme chipped a high free kick into the box and Arrubarrena, who was supposed to have been picked up by Veron, managed to lose him with a minimum of effort leapt in the air to sent a header past Toldo who picked a really stupid time to come off his line. Villarreal suddenly came to life, Forlan forced Toldo into a spectacular save with a lovely first time effort. Martins slipped as he ran onto Cambiasso's pass, I think that was the first time Inter threatened to score. Materazzi threw a short elbow into Sorin's face as he tried to attack a cross. It wasn't a particularly violent elbow though with Materazzi's history you would have to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he totally meant it. Sorin was busted wide open and bleeding like a virgin on prom night. He was eventually subbed and at full time his right eye had almost totally closed. I'm sure UEFA will see this as accidental because Materazzi didn't swing his arm but I'm not convinced. Forlan, brilliantly sent clear by Riquelme, pushed a shot just wide of a post. From the most ridiculous of angles on the right wing Riquelme hit an amazing shot which arrowed towards the top corner but Toldo was equal to it, making a breathtaking two handed save. Venta was lucky the ref didn't punish him for tugging on Martins shirt in the box, had he not went down theatrically he may have won a penalty. Martins was booked for stamping on Arrubarrena's foot. In the last seconds Cruz almost stole a semi-final place with a stinging left foot volley and in the fourth minute of injury time Viera got himself booked for time wasting and misses the first leg of the semi-finals. IDIOT.
It wouldn't be fair to say as an attacking threat Inter failed to turn up, it would be more accurate to say as a football team they failed to turn up. Just the most miserable of performances. I'm sure had Villarreal actually went for it they could have easily scored more.
Match is tied 2-2 on aggregate, Villarreal win on away goals.
Attendance : 23,000
Assist : Riquelme
29 March 2006
INTER 2-1 VILLARREAL
Villarreal hit the front after 54 seconds. Sorin hit a longball out of defence upto Riquelme, he controlled the ball on his chest before volleying into the path of Jose Mari, he pushed the ball past Wome and from 12 yards slipped as he shot, Toldo saved but Forlan tapped in the rebound. Inter were almost level inside a minute, Adriano denied by a fantastic clearance off the line. A comedy of errors gifted Inter the equaliser. Sorin, under pressure from Veron, inadvertently headed on a goalkick, Recoba passed out wide to Stankovic, in his favoured role at right wing and Javi Venta, who made the goal-line clearance, sliced the ball to Adriano who controlled with his right foot (so it does have some use) before turning and smashing into the back of the net with his left. Viera made a hash of a speculative shot from Recoba.
Veron picked out Stankovic with a superb crossfield pass, he juggled the ball off his chest before flicking it over the head of midget Sorin, who was given the run around on that flank all night, and hitting a volleyed pass into the box, the ball hit Martins foot as he tried to connect with his head and it flew into the net. Gonzalo made a fantastic tackle to deny Martins. Riquelme slammed a free kick against the crossbar and should have scored the equaliser after Toldo flapped at a cross. Gonzalo, who from what little I have seen looks an outstanding defender, made an excellent tackle on Adriano in the box and from the resulting corner denied the Brazilian again with brave, leg breaking block. Adriano almost gained his revenge when he rode a tackle from the 21 year old (yes he's only 21, I'd sign him tomorrow) and fired a cross towards Martins but Viera, via the air of the post, saved.
The best and most evenly contest game of the quarter-finals. Given the job Stankovic did on Sorin, Inter should put Figo on the left flank if he's fit next week. Inter's chances improve greatly if Wome doesn't play.
Attendance : 45,000
Assists : n/a, n/a, Stankovic
LYON 0-0 MILAN
Gattuso sent Shevchenko clear after intercepting a hospital pass but Coupet saved. Another hospital pass, another chance, this time Kaka' failed to take advantage. Kaka' back-healed a sliced cross into the path of Shevchenko who hit a fierce, first time shot, drawing an unbelievable save from Coupet. Kaka' blew another opportunity when his crossed into the side netting with Gilardino unmarked at the back post. Pedretti's deflected free kick drew a fantastic save from Dida. On the stroke of half time Coupet again bailed out a Cris when his mistake let in Shevchenko.
Lyon enjoyed more possession in the second half. Their only chance came as the result of slack defending from Kaladze in his own box but Carew shoot straight at Serginho and Tiago did the same on the rebound.
In the last seconds of the match Tiago was booked for trying to remove Kaka's shirt from his back and is ruled out of the return leg but then Lyon welcome back Juninho and all it takes is one free kick.
Attendance : 35,000
Assist : n/a
28 March 2006
BENFICA 0-0 BARCELONA
Barca made light of their injuries by destroying Benfica only problem was they didn't take any of the dozen or so chances they created. After Moretto spilled an indirect free kick, Larsson had a shot charged down and the ball was eventually headed to the edge of the box where Ronaldinho was waiting with a left foot volley which seemed destined for the top corner until Moretto pulled off an amazing save. Iniesta picked up the ball on the half way line and, having dribbled past the entire Benfica defence, shot wide. Deco wasted a great run by Ronaldinho by missed a virtually open goal. Van Bommel failed to put the finish on a tremendous run from deep inside his own half but shooting straight at the 'keeper and Eto'o did exactly the same when failing to capitalise on Anderson's slip. Moretto gave Van Bommel a hospital pass right on half time but with Larsson unmarked in the centre he shot wide.
Early in the second half Barca struck the woodwork twice in quick succession, first Larsson then Motta with a bullet header. GVB blocked from Geovanni and Van Bommel was once again left frustrated by Moretto. Benfica should have been awarded a penalty for handball though it would have been an absolute travesty had they won this match.
Attendance : 65,000
Assist : n/a
ARSENAL 2-0 JUVENTUS
Vieira sent a ball over the top of the Arsenal defence to Ibrahimovic but he struggled to bring it under control allowing Toure to recover. I can't remember Juve having another chance. Ironically the move which lead to the opening goal was started by Pires- with a strong tackle on Vieira, of all people. Pires slid in from the side and ripped the ball from the feet of his former captain and gave it to Henry, he played in Fabregas and as Thuram backed off, anticipating a shot into the top corner, Fabregas caught everyone by surprise with a low drive which crept inside the left hand post. Juve were still reeling when, a minute later, Reyes picked out Henry with a fantastic pass but despite losing Thuram he was forced wide by Cannavaro and failed to trouble Buffon.
While Trezeguet was disputing play being pulled back for offside Pires ran up behind him and knocked the ball forward to Fabregas, he looked to play a one-two with Henry but the Frenchman played the ball out wide to Hleb, Hleb hit a pass straight through the middle of the Juve defence and Fabregas centred for Henry who recovered from a heavy first touchto tap into an empty net. A minute later Vieira was booked for kicking Reyes, ruling him out of the return and Juve fell apart. Camoranesi and Zebina sparred themselves the embarrassment of playing in the return leg by getting second yellows.
Granted Juve were missing their best two players (Nedved and Del Piero) so the chances of them getting their customary away goal were slim to begin with BUT that doesn't excuse the miserable performance of Juve's midfield and especially Vieira who was embarrassed by Fabregas, hardly known for his physical play. Juve haven't got a snowball's chance in hell of overturning this.
Attendance : 35,472
Red Cards : Camoranesi 87 (Juventus), Zebina 89 (Juventus)
Assists : Henry, Fabregas