26 April 2006


Inside the first minute Kaka' found himself in acres of space down Barca's left flank (GVB's side) but, possibly worried about the prospect of having to beat Puyol, he shot early and failed to trouble Valdes. Eto'o raced onto a pass from Iniesta and stepped inside Costacurta but the ball took a minor deflection, forcing Eto'o onto his left foot and giving Dida just enough time to rush off his line and block. Eto'o wasted another chance minutes later, a heavy first touch drew out Dida and as the ball bounced off his shin Costacurta cleared. Billy got a yellow for chopping down Eto'o late in the first half.

Seedorf chipped a ball upto Shevchenko but he couldn't generate enough power with his header. Belletti missed the game's best chance, he slipped after Ronaldinho and Iniesta carved out an opening on the edge of Milan's six yard box. Giuly failed to repeat his first leg heroics when he blazed a Ronaldinho cross high over the bar. Milan were robbed of an equaliser when Shevchenko headed a Pirlo free kick past Valdes, Merck blew for a foul on Puyol, who slipped as he turned. Larsson missed an absolute sitter, heading straight at Dida after Eto'o whipped a cross over Serginho.

Barcelona win 1-0 on aggregate.

Attendance : 98,000
Assists : n/a

25 April 2006


Riquelme, forced wide by Eboue and Fabregas, rolled a cross into the box, Senna laid it off to Sorin but he hit a weak shot straight at Lehmann. Gilberto Silva should have been sent off for kicking Franco after the striker forced him into losing the ball. Senna flicked on a deep cross to Venta, he hit an excellent half volley pass towards Franco but he got a terrible connection, the ball bounced off his shoulder and Lehmann parried.

Forlan, who was spending far too much time in midfield positions sprayed the ball out wide to Venta, once again his delivery was immaculate and once again Franca wasted the chance by heading wide. He saved the worst to last, missing from 6 yards out after Senna caught the Arsenal defence cold with an early cross. Forlan got in on the act, missing an open goal after two Arsenal players managed to block Franco. Villarreal were given an absolute gift of a penalty when Jose Mari went down under Clichy's 'challenge'. Lehmaan, who is a bit of a penalty specialist, made an excellent save down to his left from Riquelme.

A staggeringly dull match, the last minute penalty drama aside. Arsenal successfully played for a draw, thanks to their hosts charitable finishing. Goalless draws are a stain on the face of humanity.

Arsenal win 1-0 on aggregate

Attendance : 23,000
Assists : n/a

19 April 2006


Arsenal were, for once, getting a lot of joy from set pieces. Henry hit a free kick straight into the Villarreal wall, the ball broke for Toure's but he shot wide. Senderos wasted a free header from a Henry corner then a squirrel ran onto the field looking for some nuts. Arzol, ok his name is actually Arzo, made a brilliant clearance as Pires was about to pounce on a deflection and from the resulting corner the Villarreal defence charged down two shots. Forlan seized on a mistake by Toure and fired the ball into the box but Lehman just got a touch as Jose Mari was about to tap into an empty net. Henry got a second bite at a corner, played a blind pass into Hleb and Toure was first to his centre giving Arsenal a deserved lead. Riquelme stung Lehman's hand with a free kick and Villarreal should have been awarded a penalty for a disgraceful foul by Gilberto Silva on Jose Mari. The theatrical ref, who was doing his very best to get noticed, booked Riquelme for his protests.

Toure hacked a dangerous Sorin header clear. Henry and Gilberto Silva were guilty of wasting slick approach play with power puff shots. Bergkamp did a Gilardino and missed on the line after Henry helped on a van Persie free kick.

I was going to say how Arsenal only scored one goal is a mystery but it isn't - too much sissy football. It's all very well toying with the opposition and making them look like Premiership cannon fodder as long as you remember to put the ball in the net. Even if Villarreal turn this around they picked up five yellows largely because the ref was an idiot, so they're going to have to be very careful in the return.

Attendance : 35,438
Assist : Hleb

18 April 2006


Milan were punished for failing to take two very presentable chances inside a minute. Gilardino, who was standing on the edge of the six yard box and being marked by Marquez and Oleguer, was allowed to pull down a throw-in, turn and shoot but the ball came back off the outside of a post. Milan quickly launched another attack, Seedorf hit a perfect cross to the back post but Valdez made a great save with his knees to push Shevchenko's header out for a corner. Barca's only notable effort, in between some abysmal shooting from 20 yards, came late in the half when Eto'o and Ronaldinho combined to set-up Giuly but he scuffed his shot.

Gilardino wasted another glorious opening five minutes into the second half. Gattuso, Stam and Seedorf worked the ball down Barca's left, Gattuso passed to Shevchenko, he hit a brilliant disguised pass upto Kaka' and he rolled the ball to the back post, leaving Gilardino with an absolute tap-in but he sliced wide, HORRENDOUS miss. Ronaldinho, who was largely invisible in the first half, fought off a challenge from Gattuso then hit the most superb curled pass into Giuly who darted between Nesta and Kaladze before lashing a half volley into the top left corner of the net. Brilliant goal. Barca almost made it 0-2 with a rapid counter attack. Giuly dispossessed Seedorf then passed to Ronaldinho, he went at Nesta and caught Dida with a sudden shot which came back off the inside of same post Gilardinho struck in the first half. Kaka' slide a pass through to Ambrosini as Barca had lined up to defend a free kick but with all the time in the World he shot wide. The last chance fell to Kaka', having worked an opening with a pass inside Edmilson he completely miss kicked.

With Deco back for the return leg Milan won't enjoy anywhere near as much possession so they're screwed. On the bright side (!) they did in take about €3.5 million in gate receipts.

Attendance : 80,000
Assist : Ronaldinho