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Champions League quarterfinal second legs: a tepid and mercifully brief review

14th April, 2011

Funnily enough I do have a life beyond football, which is why a more pressing engagement kept me from watching either of Tuesday’s Champions League matches. I can’t say that I’m overly upset. Of the two matches only the all-English encounter between Manchester United and Chelsea threatened to offer any suspense, though I rather fancy that most of the football-following world raised the corners of their mouths a fraction of an inch to form the wriest of smiles once they had realised that comically misfiring Spanish striker Fernando Torres would be starting. Poor old Fernando hasn’t exactly been a roaring success since his £50 000 000 transfer from Liverpool. The last time he scored this strangely prescient song may well have still been in the charts:

I half fancied that I would turn on the news to discover that a Torres brace had sent Chelsea through to the semi-finals. In the event Ramires got himself sent off, Torres got himself taken off, and the man who should have started in the Spaniard’s stead, humility’s Didier Drogba, scored a goal that gave his team that gave his team some precious hope. That hope was promptly shattered by Drogba’s teammates when, about 45 seconds after the Ivorian’s goal,  Park Ji-Sung was left criminally unmarked on the edge of the penalty area and could hardly be blamed for punishing the Londeners as he did with a lovely goal to add to Javier Hernández’s first-half opener. Man of the tie has to be Ryan Giggs, who set up all three of his team’s goals.

Although I’d planned on watching Schalke hosting Inter on Wednesda, if only for the honour of witnessing peerless thespian Lúcio take on the role of Richard III. However the inavailability of a decipherable stream my sense of allegiance to the one English club playing last night meant that I chose instead to watch a Peter Crouchless Tottenham attempt to stun Real Madrid with five unanswered goals. Gareth Bale did his best impersonation of a dastardly foreigner early on by diving over Raúl Albiol’s outstretched leg.

There’s no real need to delve further into the events of that match. Tottenham had their chances, but Real Madrid were rarely in any real danger, and Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso effectively bossed the midfield. Tom Huddlestone looked like a man who had been rushed back into action a game or two too soon, and once Heurelho Gomes had allowed Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot to bobble over his hands and into the net the tie was effectively over. Michael Cox at Zonal Marking has a typically excellent tactical breakdown for those of you interested. I hear that the Schalke match was hardly an exciting one, though worth it perhaps just to see Raúl rolling back the years with his neatly taken opening goal. For a thorough summary visit the Bundesliga Fanatic website, where Cristian Nyari has done a much better job than you’re ever likely to read on these pages.

And, just for the sake of thoroughness, here’s Lionel Messi’s goal against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Bye for now!

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