Who Wants Another Reds-Chelski Semi Final? No One? Oh, Too Bad.By: The Offside | April 8th, 2008
Let’s get this out of the way right now: If Ryan Babel won a penalty, Aleksandr Hleb deserved the same, maybe more, in the first leg. Perhaps it’s time to consider, regardless of the level of incompetence, having the same referee police both legs, to at least keep things somewhat consistent (that means get to work, Platini).
At the moment, it’s Cristiano Ronaldo’s Ballon D’Or to lose, and deservedly so. However, if Liverpool manages to win the Champions League, Fernando Torres has to get some serious consideration, followed by some serious votes. And if, in some way, shape or form, 20m plus Luis Garcia can be considered a bargain, then it certainly was. Fernando’s sublime turn on goal is worthy of a solid gold picture frame, much like the rest of his season. I’m sure Liverpool fans shudder to think where they’d be without him right now.
The scoreline is far from indicative of the performance Arsenal provided, and they thoroughly dominated the opening of the game. Perhaps the only person on the Gunners side who can be even somewhat is Mathieu Flamini, who was forced off by injury near halftime, then watched Liverpool slot three in the back of the net in the next 45. Influence, indirect effect and all that changes when a player comes off for another, so it’s impossible to know whether or not it truly impacted the result – but don’t think for a second his agent won’t it bring up in contract negotiations.
In the end it was an old hat, Sami Hyypia, who jackhammered a header into the back of net with a lit bit of animosity, and a couple new friends to close out the game for Liverpool. Torres was nonexistent for much of the game, then showed up out of the blue to put Liverpool ahead, and ran Arsenal ragged immediately thereafter. Then Ryan Babel came on and sliced through Arsenal’s back line on a few occasions, eventually winning the penalty and beating Cesc in a 40 yard dash for the fourth. There was some superb team movement from Arsenal, coupled with a cool finish from Abou Diaby, and a relatively stunning Adebayor equalizer after the back opened up – but Diaby’s goal was very early in the game, before anything was to be decided, and Adebayor had roughly four milliseconds to celebrate before Pool took the ball off the spot and found himself staring at the ref pointing to the spot in front of Manuel Almunia.
Regardless of circumstance and controversies, Rafa Bentitez is doing what he does, making yet another deep run in Europe.
Chelsea 2 – Fenerbahce 0
The tone was set early – very early – as a Fenerbahce 2-1 lead was turned upside down in the 3rd minute on a Michael Ballack header, transitioning to a Chelsea lead on away goals at Stamford Bridge. Surely a far cry from the advantage Fenerbahce enjoy just a few minutes earlier. The opening goal didn’t lead to the Turkish squad throwing forward in droves, unfortunately, and the game stayed status quo until the 87th minute when Frank Lampard put in a second. Fenerbahce has two moments where they almost took advantage of third stringer Hilario, but he managed to save both in almost spectacular fashion, keeping Chelsea ahead. And, almost surprisingly at this point, no heroics from Deivid.
So now what do we have? Borefest III: There’s A New Chick In Town. Another Champions League semi-final involving Chelsea and Liverpool. Wonderful.
The talk will be about the last two, and how Liverpool have Chelsea’ number in Europe, but the underlying story will be: Can Avram do what Jose couldn’t? If Chelsea manages to make it through to the final, it’ll be a tiny slice of justification after Jose was canned for reasons which are secret to no one – his “failures” in Europe (semis aren’t that bad, Roman).
Should be interesting to read the results, just not to watch.