9 April 2008

BARCELONA 1 (Toure 43)

According to the stats both teams managed combined 38 shots but from what I saw this was a devastatingly poor game. Bordon sliced a Bojan centre high in the air, Krstajic made a fantastic goal-line clearance but Toure was on hand to send the rebound past Neuer.

I never thought I'd say this at this stage of the season but Barcelona are the poorest team left in the competition. When your best player is a child (Bojan) you know you've got problems.

Attendance : 88,000
Assist : n/a


Alex Ferguson was so worried about Roma's threat he left Ronaldo and Rooney on the bench and played Silvestre and Pique in defence. Park and Hargreaves wasted early chances. Tevez laid off a goalkick to Hargreaves and he hit a superb first time pass to Giggs at the back post forcing a great save from Doni. Roma looked to have won a soft penalty when Mancini theatrically went down in the box but replays showed Brown kicked out at him three times. De Rossi sent the ball into outer space.

Roma kept plugging away in the second half. VDS spilled a speculative effort from Vucinic but Cassetti botched the rebound. Silvestre made a great block tackle on Taddei and Juan should have scored from the resulting corner. Brown intercepted a stray pass and gave the ball to Tevez, he held off Mancini and passed to Hargreaves who had one again drifted out wide. Hargreaves checked his run, waited for Tevez to dart into the box and whipped a cross straight onto his head, 1-0. Brilliant. Gary Neville made his first appearance in 13 months as a late sub for the rubbish Anderson.

Roma are the Italian Arsenal i.e. cock teases. Without Totti they're hopeless and Vucinic clearly isn't good enough to play as the lone striker. Man United should have few problems beating Barca, Messi or no Messi.

Attendance : 74,423
Assist : Hargreaves

8 April 2008

CHELSEA 2 (Ballack 4, Lampard 87)

As I wrote when the draw was made Chelsea will do Fenerbahce on set pieces and in the 4th minute Ballack headed in a Lampard free kick to tie the game 2-2 on aggregate with Chelsea now leading on away goals. Kalou ran onto a loose ball before powering into the box and Joe Cole smashed his centre against a post. Worryingly for Chelsea Cudicini pulled a hamstring and was replaced by Hilario mid-way through the first half.

Drogba wasted several chances and Chelsea almost paid the price but Hilario scrambled to clear a deflected shot. Minutes later Kazim stung Hilario's palms with a fierce drive from distance. Lampard sealed another highly anticipated semi-final meeting with Liverpool three minutes from time. Makelele turned onto an Ashley Cole pass before spraying the ball wide to Kalou, he took a couple of steps infield and passed to Lampard, Lampard found Essien on the right hand edge of the box and he headed for the by-line before cutting inside, muscling his way through two defenders and centring for his captain to tap-in from close range.

The only thing in Chelsea's favour going into the Liverpool tie, because God knows the refs won't be, is the first leg is at Anfield for a change. What price an away goal?

Chelsea win 3-2 on aggregate.

Attendance : 38,369
Assists : Lampard (fk), Essien

LIVERPOOL 4 (Hyypia 30, Torres 69, Gerrard 85 Pen, Babel 92)
ARSENAL 2 (Diaby 13, Adebayor 84)

Flamini intercepted a clearance and knocked the ball to Fabregas, he played a one-two with Hleb and made a run across goal leaving a huge gap in the centre of the box, Diaby ran into the space onto Hleb's pass and beat Reina at his near post with a firm shot which the Spaniard should have saved. Arsenal's alarming habit of blowing leads continued. Disgraceful marking allowed Hyypia to pull clear of Senderos to head in the equaliser from a Gerrard corner. Gilberto Silva came on as a late first half sub for Flamini, kicked out of the game by that dirty little cheat Mascherano.

Reina launched a longball downfield, Crouch headed into Torres who turned the awful Senderos before hammering a right foot shot into the top right corner of the net. Fantastic strike. Within 12 minutes of replacing the useless Eboue, Walcott made the equaliser. He intercepted after Gerrard shanked a volley on the edge of the box and ran the length of the field past Xabi Alonso, Arbeloa, Mascherano and Hyypia before centring for Adebayor who made amends for missing an earlier sitter. With 6 minutes plus injury time to go Arsenal should have shut up shop but they allowed another substitute, Babel, to drive at goal and he fell under Toure's clumsy challenge. Gerrard converted and with Arsenal throwing everyone forward in a desperate attempt to score a third away goal Kuyt sent Babel clear to scored a fourth on the break.

When Chelsea and Milan supporters complained about the bullshit refereeing decisions Liverpool got in 2005 everyone thought it was sour grapes. Fast forward to this season's ties against Inter and the Materazzi red card. Well he deserved it of course, because he's Materazzi. And now? What about the Hleb penalty? As I wrote last week :

Arsenal were robbed of a second half penalty when Kuyt pulled back Hleb as he burst into the box following some slick approach play and we all know what would have happened had the roles been reversed.

And that's precisely what happened today. Senderos and Arsenal's defending in general didn't help matters but it's hard to win matches when the refs only blow in one teams favour.

Liverpool win 5-3 on aggregate.

Attendance : 41,985
Assists : Hleb, Gerrard (ck), Crouch, Walcott, Babel (won pen), Kuyt

2 April 2008

ARSENAL 1 (Adebayor 23)
LIVERPOOL 1 (Kuyt 26)

Van Persie wasted Flamini's glorious pass over the Liverpool defence by volleying high over the bar. Minutes later he drew a superb save from Reina and from the resulting corner Arsenal took the lead. Fabregas and Van Persie worked a short corner, the injury prone Dutchman whipped a devilish ball to the back post and Adebayor leapt above a static Hyypia to head in his second Champions League goal. Liverpool hit back immediately. Flamini broke up a counter attack before running straight into Gerrard, he swapped passes with Torres then dribbled past Eboue and Toure before centring for Kuyt to slide in the equaliser.

Arsenal were robbed of a second half penalty when Kuyt pulled back Hleb as he burst into the box following some slick approach play and we all know what would have happened had the roles been reversed. Bendtner made sure the teams went in all square ahead of the second leg when he made an impossible goal-line clearance from a Fabregas shot. I'm no lip reading expert but stupid twat I think were Wenger's exact words.

Attendance : 60,041
Assists : Van Persie, Gerrard

FENERBAHCE 2 (Kazim 65, Deivid 81)
CHELSEA 1 (Deivid 13 og)

Deivid gave Chelsea another early lead when he deflected a Malouda centre into his own net. Essien cracked the woodwork with a tremendous long range effort and Drogba drew a fine save from Volkan Demirel with a powerful shot on the turn. The much maligned goalkeeper flew out of his box to make a desperate tackle on the Ivorian striker as he seemed certain to extend Chelsea's lead at the end of the first half.

A second Chelsea goal seemed inevitable. A quick counter attack ended with Lampard feeding Ballack and his punishing drive was superbly palmed away by Volkan Demirel. Fenerbahce equalised with their first noteworthy attack. Aurelio chipped a ball between the awful Terry and Carvalho (they've aged five years over the past two seasons) Kazim ran clear and smacked a half volley past Cudicini. Literally two minutes later Ballack almost restored Chelsea's lead but was once again foiled by the inspired Volkan Demirel. Aurelio intercepted a deep Carvalho clearance and played the ball square to Maldonado. Deivid turned onto the midfielders pass, took one touch before CRACKERJACK ripping an unstoppable right foot drive past a despairing Cudicini.

Chelsea will be wondering how they managed to lose this one. No doubt the imbeciles in the English press will be chewing up Grant but if they play half as well at Stamford Bridge a semi-final place is an absolute formality.

I'm not sure how well Deivid is performing domestically but his Champions League performances must have caught the eye of Dunga and given Brazil's problems in attack he's worth a look.

Attendance : 49,000
Assists : n/a, Aurelio, Maldonado

1 April 2008

MANCHESTER UNITED 2 (Ronaldo 39, Rooney 66)

Manchester United set-up a Barcelona semi-final with what turned into a comfortable victory over Roma. The visitors took the lead shortly after O'Shea replaced the injured Vidic. United knocked the ball around the Roma half before Carrick chipped back to O'Shea, he passed to Rooney who made Mexes look like a chump with a great turn then played in the unmarked Scholes on the right, Scholes hung a cross upto the centre circle and out of nowhere Ronaldo came steaming in with a bullet header down into the bottom right corner. Brilliant goal.

Spalletti's half time team talk seemed to do the trick as Roma finally managed to put the United goal under consistent pressure. Unfortunately for the Giallorossi their best chances fell to Tonetto and Panucci. Van der Sar pulled off a spectacular save to deny Vucinic on a corner. At the other end the abysmal Doni fumbled a Park cross leaving Rooney with a tap-in. Ronaldo caught Aquilani dithering in his own half and almost made it 0-3, his shot rebounding off a post. In fact had United took all their chances they could have put another seven goals past Roma.

Roma were missing their best defender, key defensive midfielder and of course Totti. However injuries are part and parcel of the game and easy to accept. What isn't easy to accept is how and why a team with over a billion dollars of debt is still allowed to sign players. That is bullshit.

Attendance : 80,023
Assists : Scholes, n/a

BARCELONA 1 (Bojan 12)

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, the hero against Porto in the last round, fumbled after Henry ruined a fantastic sixteen pass move with an atrocious shot, he poked the rebounded across goal for Bojan to tap into an empty net. Kuranyi was substituted on the hour mark and suddenly Schalke began to threaten from crosses but Larsen, Westermann and Bordon all failed to take advantage.

Attendance : 53,951
Assist : Henry