17 March 2010

BARCELONA 4 (Messi 13, Pedro 22, Messi 60, Bojan 89)

Messi followed up his weekend hat-trick with a superb opening goal. He ran at the heart of the Stuttgart defence and despite being surrounded managed to pick a gap between three defenders and thumped a left foot shot over Lehmann. He helped make the second with a beautifully weighted pass which released Toure on the overlap and Pedro tapped in the Ivorian's centre. Messi turned onto Alves' outrageous backheel before beating Lehmann for a second time with a low shot. Overrated midget Bojan scored his second goal of the season within a minute of replacing Iniesta, nutmegging Lehmann when combining with another substitute, Ibrahimovic.

Barcelona win 5-1 on aggregate.

Attendance : 75,000
Assists : Toure, Toure, Alves, Ibrahimovic

BORDEAUX 2 (Gourcuff 5, Chamakh 88)
OLYMPIAKOS 1 (Mitroglou 65)

Wendel dived to win a free kick, according to ITV's blind idiot Clive Tyldesley he was cynically tripped, and Gourcuff took advantage to score with a fantastic left foot shot from an angle wide left of goal. He followed that up with an insane free kick from inside the left touchline almost 40 yards from goal which slammed off the woodwork. The visitors were jobbed out of a penalty when Ciani checked Derbyshire off the ball, Derbyshire was ridiculously booked for diving.

Derbyshire went through Plasil with an EPL tackle to earn a second yellow. Despite being a man light Mitroglou levelled the tie on aggregate three minutes after replacing Zairi when he turned onto a throw-in and crashed a volley into the top left corner. Having equalised Olympiakos where suddenly in the ascendancy when Diarra was dismissed for what appeared to be a horrific sliding tackle which was nowhere near as dangerous as it seemed. Ciani almost sliced a Raul Bravo centre into his own net but Bordeaux got a grip on the game and having wasted a through ball minutes earlier Chamakh made amends with a SPECTACULAR diving header. He'll be great in an Arsenal shirt, if they cross the ball to him. Mellberg was sent off after the final whistle. I didn't see what for.

Bordeaux win 3-2 on aggregate.

Attendance : 32,367
Red Card : Derbyshire 60 (Olympiakos), Diarra 68 (Bordeaux)
Assists : Wendel (won fk), Bravo (throw-in), Tremoulinas

Platini will be pleased, the last 8 reads :

2 England
2 France
1 Germany
1 Italy
1 Russia
1 Spain

16 March 2010

SEVILLA 1 (Perotti 41)
CSKA MOSCOW 2 (Necid 39, Honda 55 fk)

Akinfeev denied Fabiano early on with a superb point blank from a Navas centre. Palop spilled a saveable effort from Honda and the Japanese midfielder wasted the rebound. Necid, CSKA's giant 20 year old striker, stepped away from a challenge on the edge of the box before firing into the bottom corner. Sevilla were quickly level. The CSKA defence failed to deal with a longball and Navas pulled it back for Perotti to tap home. Navas continued to torment the CKSA defence and created another chance which Kanoute headed wide five yards from goal. Shocking miss. A goalkeeping blunder ultimately decided this evenly contested tie. Honda struck a furious free kick straight at Palop via a deflection but nonetheless he should have saved. Gonzalez's late miss proved academic.

I was not surprised CSKA won this tie. They look a good side and will be a tough draw for any team.

CSKA Moscow win 3-2 on aggregate.

Attendance : 40,000
Assists : Honda, Navas, n/a

INTER 1 (Eto'o 78)

After a dreadful opening half hour or so Chelsea finally threatened the visitors goal with Maicon and Samuel forced into desperate last ditch tackles. Eto'o had the best chance of the half, missing a header at the back post when the inept Terry failed to clear. Chelsea had two strong penalty appeals when Ivanovic and Drogba were sacked in the packed penalty area by Motta and Samuel respectively.

Having survived late first half pressure Inter took complete control in the second. As Terry and Mikel converged on Sneijder he played in the onrushing Pandev with an exquisite blind pass, Pandev ran through but failed to pull the trigger in time, allowed Zhirkov to make up ground and clear. Sneijder intercepted Terry's poor pass out of defence and put Milito in on goal with another fabulous pass but having controlled the ball the normally ice cold Argentinean dragged his shot well wide of Turnball's goal. Another Sneijder pass, another chance went begging, Motta wasting a free header at the back post from the Dutchman's free kick. Eto'o, who had an awful game, finally put away one of the chances created by Sneijder. A fantastic first touch took him clear of Ivanovic and he slotted into the corner. Drogba compounded Chelsea's misery when, once again frustrated by Motta's industrial marking in the box, he stamped on the Brazilian's ankle. He did not protest the decision. Only a stunning save denied Eto'o a late second.

This is a poor, old, Chelsea team devoid of flair in midfield and desperately lacking options in attack. Anelka is a flat track bully, never shows up for big games which means Drogba becomes isolated upfront. This group of Chelsea players will not get near another Champions League final. Abramovich needs to stop his penny pinching ways and spent heavily like he used to back in the glory days.

I will not go as far as to say Inter are a match for any of the remaining teams in the competition because I don't believe they are. I'll never be convinced by a team that has Cambiasso, who put the light in lightweight, in midfield and a team that defends set pieces as recklessly as Inter did tonight. The ref, Wolfgang Stark, who you may have guessed is, ironically, German, was terrible. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Inter win 3-1 on aggregate.

Attendance : 38,107
Red Card : Drogba 87 (Chelsea)
Assists : Sneijder

10 March 2010

REAL MADRID 1 (Ronaldo 6)
LYON 1 (Pjanic 75)

It took Real Madrid only six minutes to level the tie on aggregate. Guti sent a longball over the halfway line to Ronaldo who ran between two defenders before beating Lloris at his near post with a low drive the French youngster should have saved. Real, or to be more precise, Higuain wasted the chances that should have buried Lyon. Sent clear by Granero Higuain jumped past Lloris as he flew off his line and with an empty net at his mercy he struck a feeble shot against the inside of a post. Kaka' was swarmed by three defenders as he drove into the box, the ball broke for Higuain and once again he supplied a powder puff finish. I can't STAND strikers who would rather place the ball than put their boots through it - like Henry for example. First leg hero Makoun shanked Lyon's only notable effort.

Higuain was off target again, wasting a superb Granero cross. Casillas throw the ball to Ronaldo who ran almost the length of the field before centring to Kaka' but the Brazilian's fierce drive whistled wide of the left post then the chances dried up and Lyon pounced. Mediocre Argentinean winger Delgado played a ball inside to Lisandro, under pressure from Albiol, he miss-controlled but the ball bounced off his knee and Pjanic slammed a half volley past the despairing Casillas. Maybe Real Madrid will sign him in the summer? Lyon let Real Madrid off the hook late on when missing two one vs ones against Casillas in the closing minutes, with Lisandro's particularly embarrassing.

Pellegrini is gone at the end of the season and deservedly so even if Real Madrid win the league. As for who will be their next coach, Real Madrid are running out of candidates. Benitez will inevitably be linked but in light of what Valdano said a few years ago it's hard to see that happening. My guess is Dunga and failing that Real Madrid will go back in for Del Bosque.

Lyon are an awful side and have been deeply unimpressive throughout the campaign. If they play like this in the quarter-finals I hope they get hammered, unless they draw United of course.

Lyon win 2-1 on aggregate.

Attendance : 80,354
Assists : Guti, Lisandro

MANCHESTER UNITED 4 (Rooney 13, Rooney 46, Park 59, Fletcher 88)

Ronaldinho wasted a poorly defended free kick with a header that bounced wide of a post and Huntelaar was guilty of a worse miss when, free inside the box, his heavy first touch allowed VDS to claim before he could shoot. United's old stagers combined to help Rooney score the goal that killed the tie just 13 minutes in. Scholes passed to Neville who was not adequately closed down and he produced a fine inswinging cross for Rooney who easily got above Bonera to head in his third goal of the tie. At the start of the second half Thiago Silva miss-controlled a crossfield pass and Nani raced upfield before flicking a superb ball with the outside of his right foot to Rooney who shot first time past a hopelessly exposed Abbiati. Huntelaar missed another chance but at this stage it was academic. Park took advantage of a Milan defence that were presumably trying to play offside to score a third. Beckham struck VDS' palms with a 20 yard volley and Fletcher completed the rout when he ghosted in unmarked at the back post to head in Rafael's great first time pass.

Berlusconi is going to blow his top, and he should as Milan's proud record against Manchester United is just that - history. Leonardo has failed all his big tests bar one (Real Madrid) this season - twice against Inter, twice against Manchester United and against Roma at the weekend. He's a weak coach.

Manchester United win 7-2 on aggregate.

Attendance : 74,595
Assists : Neville, Nani, Scholes, Rafael

9 March 2010

ARSENAL 5 (Bendtner 10, Bendtner 25, Nasri 63, Eboue 66, Bendtner 91 Pen)

Porto surrendered as feebly as they did last season against an Arsenal side missing Fabregas. Midget Arshavin headed an Almunia goalkick to Nasri, Nasri returned the pass, Helton crashed into Rocha as they tried to cut it out and Bendtner slid the ball into en empty net. 20 yards from goal Fucile shielded Diaby as he waited for a ball to cross the touchline, it didn't, so he turned away from his goal and tried to play the ball out of defence only he gave it straight to Arshavin, he wriggled his way between three players as he ran into the box then centred for Bendtner's second. Fantastic assist. Nasri's third goal was off the charts. From the left touchline he drifted into the box, turned three players inside out and as Helton covered his near post slammed a shot in off the far post. Arsenal countered from defending a corner, Arshavin ran onto a Vermaelen header, carried the ball 70 yards before releasing Eboue on the overlap, Eboue flicked the ball away from Helton as he ran off his line then tapped into an empty net. Bendtner completed Porto's misery from the penalty spot after Eboue again proved too hot to handle. Bendtner's first career hat-trick.

Arsenal were spectacular but Porto should be banned from Europe for this disgraceful showing.

Arsenal win 6-2 on aggregate.

Attendance : 59,661
Assists : n/a, Arshavin, Diaby, Arshavin, Eboue (won pen)

FIORENTINA 3 (Vargas 28, Jovetic 54, Jovetic 64)
BAYERN MUNICH 2 (Van Bommel 60, Robben 65)

Marchionni tried his luck from distance, Butt spilled the ball and Vargas smashed home the rebound. Robben missed a sitter for the visitors while Gilardino should have made it 2-0 before the break. Jovetic began a ten minute spell which decided the tie with a tap-in from a fantastic Gilardino back heel. As the Fiorentina defence swarmed on Ribery he played a centre to Van Bommel who struck a low, first time shot inside Frey's left post. Fiorentina hit back four minutes later, Gilardino was once against the provider with a return header from a deflected Jovetic pass, the youngster held off Van Buyten, sending the hulking defender crashing to the turf then nutmegged Butt. Just over a minute later the ball was passed out to Robben on the right flank, he beat three players before unleashing a rocket into the top left corner from 25 yards. A stunning goal which completely deflated Fiorentina. They didn't recover and failed to muster another chance as Bayern comfortably saw out the remainder of the match to book their place in the last eight.

Fiorentina will of course blame crooked officiating from the previous leg but when a team is leading 2-0 at home and 3-2 on aggregate at this stage of the competition and are still eliminated they only have themselves to blame.

Match is tied 4-4 on aggregate, Bayern Munich win on away goals.

As it stands Germany now have a significant lead over Italy in the battle for 3rd place in the coefficient rankings for 2011-2012 which means four Champions League places for the Bundesliga barring something extraordinary i.e. Inter beating Chelsea then drawing and beating Bayern in both leagues in a QF or Semi-Final tie and Juve taking out Bremen and Hamburg in the Europa League.

Attendance : 40,000
Assists : n/a, Gilardino, Ribery, Gilardino, n/a

24 February 2010

CSKA MOSCOW 1 (Gonzalez 66)
SEVILLA 1 (Negredo 25)

The home side fell behind to a rapid counter attack. Adriano picked up the ball in his own half and drove forward before passing out wide to Navas, Navas baited a defender before accelerating away and firing in a low centre, Negredo pulled off the shoulder of one of the CSKA centre-backs and tapped in at the back post. Liverpool reject Mark Gonzalez stumbled from a heavy first touch but scrambled after the ball and got his head down before hammering a left foot shot past Palop. Giant Czech striker Tomas Necid almost won it at the death but after bursting through Palop denied him with a brilliant right footed save.

Attendance : 15,000
Assists : Navas, Ignashevich

INTER 2 (Milito 3, Cambiasso 55)
CHELSEA 1 (Kalou 51)

Inter got off to the best possible start when in the third minute Milito turned the parasite John Terry and fired inside Cech's right post. For the remainder of the first half Inter played the same constipated football they always play in Europe with Sneijder forced too deep to be effective. The only other chance they created fell to Eto'o but he miss-kicked in the centre of the box. At the end of the first half Kalou got goalside of Samuel after his captain, the rubbish Javier Zanetti, inadvertently headed on a Chelsea longball, Samuel put his arm around Kalou and slipped as he pushed him in the back, Kalou kicked out both his heels and took a pathetic dive in the box. No penalty. It should have been a penalty and yellow cards for both players, Samuel for the foul and Kalou for the dive. It was a miracle that piece of crap Manuel Mejuto Gonzalez didn't blow in favour of Chelsea, he doesn't like Italian teams.

Kalou got his revenge early in the second half. Ivanovic made a rampaging run through the Inter midfield then ran at the defence before rolling the ball back to Kalou whose first time shot took a double deflection off Cambiasso and Stankovic though Julio Cesar still should have saved. Inter immediately started playing like the Serie A Inter and were rewarded with a second goal. Sneijder's left wing cross was poorly headed out by Carvalho, Cambiasso volleyed the rebound against Terry's arm, got hold of that rebound and this time was more accurate, his left foot shot flew past a static Cech. Cech injured himself when taking a goal kick and was stretchered off. The constipation resurfaced as the game inevitably petered out.

There is nothing to suggest, either based on this game or this season, that Inter have finally overcome their inability to perform in Europe. 2-1 is a paltry lead even if Chelsea themselves were deeply unimpressive.

Attendance : 65,000
Assists : Sneijder, n/a, n/a

23 February 2010

STUTTGART 1 (Cacau 25)
BARCELONA (Ibrahimovic 52)

Barca reject Hleb played a ball out wide to Gebhart and Cacau leapt above Puyol to meet his inswinging cross with an bullet header which Valdez should have saved. The ever indisciplined Marquez shoved Gebhart in the box to prevent him from attacking a cross. He was lucky the ref didn't whistle for a penalty. Cacau and Pogrebnyak wasted chances to punish Barca on the break. Second half substitute Rudy, under pressure from big game bottler Ibrahimovic, who had stopped playing after Christmas (as usual), failed to clear a cross, Pique headed the ball down to Ibrahimovic, Lemon saved his initial effort but he scored on the rebound. Ibrahimovic's first goal in SEVENTEEN games in the knockout stages. He almost scored a second but saw his snapshot cleared off the line, following a mistake by Lemon. Lemon ran across his box and jumped in the air with one foot outstretched to prevent Bam Bam Puyol from chasing down a ball. There's something wrong with him.

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

BORDEAUX 1 (Ciani 47)

At the end of first half injury time Ciani succeeded where Mellberg failed i.e. in heading in a free kick. Olympiakos' team of rejected continued to spurn chances. Raul Bravo whipped a fabulous cross into the box but Maresca wastefully headed over. Derbyshire, yes the former Blackburn player, brought down a long ball before slipping in Lua Lua with a perfectly weighted pass but Carrasso's fingertips denied him the equaliser. Maresca had a shot cleared off the line and minutes later in injury time Lua Lua headed a corner straight at the Bordeaux 'keeper.

Bordeaux looked considerably less impressive than they did during the group stages but they should have little problem finishing off the job back in the France against an Olympiakos side that are dreadful away from home.

Attendance : 33,500
Assists : Gourcuff (fk)

17 February 2010

PORTO 2 (Varela 11, Falcao 51)
ARSENAL 1 (Campbell 18)

Two ridiculous goals gave Porto victory in what was overall a poor game of football. Porto winger Varela nutmegged Clichy on the left flank before turning on the afterburners, leaving the Frenchman in his dust and firing in a centre which Fabianski parried into his own net. Slow Campbell headed Arsenal level from a corner, his first goal in Europe since scoring the equaliser in the 2006 European Cup final against Barcelona, after Rosicky flicked on at the near post. The Czech midfielder's rasping drive drew a great save from Helton and the Brazilian goalkeeper was also forced to parry over from Bendtner.

Diver Rosicky went down in the box looking for a penalty minutes before Porto restored their lead. Slow Campbell shepherded an overhit longball out of the Porto half back to Fabianski and MAY have got a touch. The ref blew his whistle for a backpass, took the ball off Fabianski, GAVE it to Micael and while Campbell did a Gallas impression and held his head in his hands, Micael passed to Falcao who tapped into an empty net. That Porto took the free kick quickly and scored isn't the issue for me, the fact that the ref gave the ball to Micael is. Dirty little cheat Vela tried his penalty winning trick and once again it failed.

Porto created very little but hounded Arsenal and disrupted their game by snapped into tackles and showed great energy. There's every chance they can frustrate Arsenal at the Emirates in the same manner but will need to show more quality in attack, they need another goal.

There were two noteworthy post match interviews. In the first Fabregas, sporting a bloody lip, claimed Arsenal were soft in the second the interviewer, Gabriel Clark, was continually trying to lead Wenger into say they were cheated, into criticising the ref but a subdued Wenger showed remarkable restraint and full credit to him. ITV are a bloody disgrace. An interviewer is supposed to ask questions not lead in a pathetic attempt to create controversy and headlines.

Attendance : 45,600
Assists : Micael, Rosicky, Micael (fk)

BAYERN MUNICH 2 (Robben 48 Pen, Klose 89)
FIORENTINA 1 (Kroldrup 50)

Chelsea's favourite referee, Tom Henning Ovrebo, and his linesman jobbed Fiorentina out of a point with another scandalous display of crooked officiating.

Bayern's goal followed fantastic approach play between Gomez and Robben, the German returned the Dutchman's pass with a backheel as he span away, Robben played in Ribery who arrived late into the box, Ribery ran into Kroldrup and fell down, Frey parried the ball and Gomez tapped into the net only for Ovrebo to bizarrely whistle for a penalty which Robben despatched.

Marchionni's corner was missed by all the Bayern defenders, hit Jovetic and Kroldrup fired past Butt. Diving cheat Robben fell clutching his face after Gobbi blocked his run, the ref showed the defender a straight red for an elbow. That's why Robben is so injury prone, karma punishes the bastard. Fiorentina held on, despite being outplayed, and that was even before the ref card, but Ovrebo's assistant decided to give the German's a helping hand. Robben stung Frey's palms with a vicious strike, Olic threw himself at the rebound and Klose, who was standing so far offside Ray Charles would have seen it from his grave, and had earlier missed an absolute sitter, headed past Frey.

Ovrebo and his cronies should not officiate in Europe again. I cannot remember the last time I have seen a group of officials blatantly and brazenly favour one side over another, apart from the Chelsea vs Barca match and this time they did it in full view of the watching Platini.

The away goal gives broken down, injury hit Fiorentina a lifeline. I would think the officials will be under so much pressure in the return they'd blow in favour of Fiorentina. Fiorentina will get chances, Gilardino has to take at least one of them.

Attendance : 64,500
Red Card : Gobbi 73 (Fiorentina)
Assists : Ribery (won pen), Jovetic, Olic

16 February 2010

MILAN 2 (Ronaldinho 3, Seedorf 85)
MANCHESTER UNITED 3 (Scholes 36, Rooney 66, Rooney 74)

Leonardo showed himself to be a slave to romance with the SCANDOLOUS decision to start Beckham ahead of Seedorf and Milan, boosted by an early goal, should have ran away with the game in the first half.

Ronaldinho scored via a deflection off Evans after Evra sliced clear a poor Beckham free kick. Sky Sports sycophantic commentator tried to credit Beckham with the assist before being taking to task by Gullit. Why do I have to listen to these idiots? Thiago Silva made a ramping run into the Man United half before finding Antonini with a beautifully weighted pass but after cutting inside Ferdinand he shot wide. Ronaldinho intercepted a lazy pass from Scholes to get himself one vs one against Ferdinand who made a last ditch challenge at the end of a series of stepovers and the Brazilian went down under minimal contact on the edge of the box. Had he stayed on his feet he was in on goal. Pirlo intercepted a poor pass out of defence by Evans, Ambrosini sent Huntelaar clear of United's centrebacks but he flashed the ball wide of the right post. The turning point of the game came in the 38th minute. Park and Fletcher combined down the left, Scholes aimed a right foot volley at the cross but missed, the ball hit the shin of his standing (left) leg and trickled in off Dida's right post. Antonini was replaced two minutes later. I'm guessing he was injured before the equaliser because he was nowhere to be seen on the goal.

Pato, who had a terrible game, wasted a free header in the box. VDS made good saves from Pirlo and Ronaldinho. Valencia had an immediate impact after replacing Nani. He forced Thiago Silva into a mistake, Scholes pass out wide to him, he beat Favalli with ease and hung up a cross for Rooney who got above a static Bonera to head Man United into the lead. He went close with a shot from the edge of the box before heading United into the last 16 from a Fletcher cross. Leonardo, who has a habit of making substitutions too late, sent on Seedorf for the awful Beckham and within two minutes he dragged Milan back into the match with a fantastic back heel from a Ronaldinho centre. Suddenly panic set in among the United defence. Inzaghi came on for a famished Huntelaar a minute later and blazed a Ronaldinho no look through ball. Ambrosini miscued horribly yards from goal and Nesta wasted a free header from a corner. Carrick was shown a second yellow for kicking the ball away.

Even with their glaring defensive deficiencies it's hard to see United blowing this one, not having scored three away goals. Leonardo's Milan side are a bit of a soft touch. He is easily outsmarted and bullied by more experienced, crafty and hard nosed coaches. The terrible state of the Milan bench doesn't help but that's not his fault.

Attendance : 80,000
Red Card : Carrick 93 (Manchester United)
Assists : n/a, Fletcher, Valencia, Fletcher, Ronaldinho

LYON 1 (Makoun 47)

Boumsong was man of the match. He snuffed out two potential chances with a rapid tackle on Higuain then cleared a Marcelo centre aimed at Ronaldo. Delgado thundered a volley against the outside of a post from a half cleared corner. Boumsong tackled Granero on the half way line as he chested down a Xabi Alonso square pass, the ball broke to Makoun just outside the centre circle, under no pressure whatsoever he was allowed to run forward and from 25 yards let rip with a shot that took a sudden shift in trajectory and arched into the top right corner. Lisandro should have done better with a free header and also failed to punish Casillas for an awful goalkick hit straight at him.

1-0 is nowhere near enough. I expect Real Madrid will go through by some crazy score like 5-3 on aggregate but if they've got any chance of winning la decima this year these nervy performances have to go.

Attendance : 40,500
Assist : Boumsong