The week that was in Europe - 6-8/03/07
It has been a good week of European football for the Brits this week, overall. Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea emerged further into the quarter-finals of the Champions League, Rangers came back from a goal down at Ibrox to level their UEFA Cup tie and Spurs put in another good away performance in Portugal to come away with a victory for their second leg UEFA campaign.
Liverpool played well against one of the best in Europe and current Champions and rattled a crossbar that has a hatred for John Arne Riise. Momo Sissoko almost got his first for the club, Ronaldinho hit the post, Peter Crouch almost equalised Eidur Gudjohnsen's only goal from yards. Good performance from Liverpool, arguably one that earned their progress as well as kept out the Spanish giants.
Man Utd had to endure an uncomfortable first half with Lille threatening to score but I sensed the French side had enough to come at Utd but not enough to susbtantially threaten to score. Their quality upfront was lacking and it told that Utd would score, ironically by Henrik Larsson in possibly his last Red Devils game. Utd go on to face Roma.
Chelsea also gave a lacklustre first half performance and were rocked when Porto scored first through Ricardo Quaresma, good goal. One half time break later and Chelsea were better, scoring twice to go through. If Liverpool-Barcelona was the tie of this round, then Chelsea v Valencia must be the one to watch for the quarter-finals.
Arsenal repeated their home game against CSKA Moscow in creating chance after chance yet failing to score and in the end drawing the game. This time drawing meant they were eliminated. It just was not to be for the Gunners and after PSV defender Alex scored in his own net the indications appeared to be Arsenal would use the fortune to turn up the heat on the Dutch side. Bringing on Thierry Henry therefore seemed appropriate, but an unfit Henry didn't fit this equation. A freekick later the Frenchman showed signs of discomfort that then went universal through the team as Alex nodded in an equaliser from a freekick seven minutes from time.
Celtic were the Braveheart of Scotland at the San Siro against AC Milan and it took a full ninety minutes of action with no goals scored to bring this tie into a further dogfight. The fact that Kaka would make a difference is not surprising as he made his run from midfield with space and a hesitant defence awaiting to slot under Artur Boruc. Celtic could not fashion a shot on goal to trouble the Italians and it would have taken any chance on goal just to get the vital equaliser to go through on. But Kaka's goal made a psychological impact, the Hoops lacking afterwards to at least hold the ball amongst the Milan defence.
Newcastle, Rangers and Spurs focused on the UEFA cup. Newcastle went goals-crazy for a 4-2 win, Rangers came from a goal behind to level at full time against Osasuna, and Spurs recorded another good away win in Portugal against a Braga side renowned domestically for their defensive record. Dimitar Berbatov really impressed again for Spurs, and he was practically taking the fight to Braga on his own so how he failed to score was one question.