Champions League provides goals....and also more mayhem.
Tuesday evening brought seven goals and two good matches. Liverpool made good their opportunities in the Philips Stadion to come away with a 0-3 lead to take into the 2nd leg at Anfield. Steven Gerrard's header, John Arne Riise's control and volley, and Peter Crouch's header have made PSV's coach Ronald Koeman conceded defeat in PSV's progress, but the objective is half done so Liverpool need to remain professional and secure a semi-final place with a win all the same. One thing marred the win in Fabio Aurelio's Achilles injury that rules him out for up to four months, a a time where his recent inclusion had provided well for Liverpool.
I had the opportunity to record and therefore watch the full coverage of AC Milan v Bayern Munich. Bayern seemed laid back in their attack whereas the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso and Kaka added pace and guile to their attacks. Bayern's man was Owen Hargeaves who tidied at the back and made runs down the right on occasion. Pirlo met on the end of a fabulous freekick to head past rookie keeper Michel Rensing but Bayern have shown their resolve against Real previously and equalised through Belgian defender Daniel Van Buyten.
Bayern's Lucio had tackled Kaka before in the box and was judged fairly so for the same scenario with much more clarity to end up a penalty was a staggering decision. Kaka duly deposited the spot-kick and Milan looked to have the leg won. But 30 seconds from the end of injury time Bayern had a freekick, which Milan failed poorly to clear which allowed the ball to bounce to Van Buyten again and his left-foot shot squeezed past Dida at the near post. Bayern refusing to die, they will miss their captain Willy Sagnol through injury for he 2nd leg at the Allianz Arena.
Last night brought not so prosperous news for English football. Valencia seemed to have arrived at Stamford Bridge with a number of absentees in Fernando Morientes, Edu, Rubén BarajaCarlos Marchena and the clown David Navarro, and therefore would not have much resistance to Chelsea's attacks. But Valencia did well to prevent Chelsea capitalising on promising attacks, with the exception of Roberto Ayala's blatant shoulder barge on Andriy Shevchenko which the referee bizarrely did not act upon, not even a freekick. Yet when Joaquin picked up a loose clearance outside the Chelsea box and aimed a shot which David Silva failed to divert on goal with no one near him, Chelsea showed an opening they would be stung from later on. On the attack Silva linked up with David Villa and then ran on a little with the ball before unleashing an angled 20-25 yard shot that went over Petr Cech with awesome precision.
From set-pieces Chelsea had the better of players in the air in Shevchenko, Didier Drogba, John Terry and Jon Obi Mikel to name four in comparison to Ayala, Emiliano Moretti and perhaps Asier del Horno, and there was one freekick that proved this to me, where I texted my collegaue T to say Chelsea's key would be set-pieces and headers to equalise. So when a Santiago Canizares clearance went to Ashley Cole and Cole chipped a ball forward for Drogba to run onto and head over the Valencia keeper, I would say I was near enough to prediction. Valencia would be more content with the draw to return to the Mestalla with but Chelsea have shown they are capable of a performance that levelled against Barcelona at the Nou Camp, so indeed when Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho states the tie is open, it is.
The talking point of the night. Following from the scenes at the end of the Valencia v Inter Milan 2nd leg came crowd scenes of anti-social behaviour, Sky Sports cameras showing Roma fans banging on rows of plastic fencing secured between them and the Man Utd fans, taunting them, the Utd fans running over to retaliate presumably in kind, to be met by a horde of Italian riot-gear clad police beating them back with batons and shields. This is by far not the entire footage of what happened in the Stadio Olimpico but from what I saw the police dealt with the Utd fans and left the Roma fans alone. This to me says the police were more fearful of the Roma fans and dealt with the minority Utd fans, very unfair.
This is the same football ground where Roma played Galatasaray in 13th March 2002, where the away players were aimed at with objects. The same ground where Anders Frisk, who attended last night's game as an independent observer, was hit with an object that left him bleeding profusely from a forehead wound during the Roma v Dinamo Kiev game, 15th September 2004. There needs to be a thorough investigation into the safety and control of fans, and a review into the security procedures that should include searches, as Frisk stated he was allowed through without being searched. Perhaps because they were familiar with him why he was not searched.
On the pitch Man Utd imploded with the sending off of Paul Scholes, who was booked on 25mins for a reckless challenge with both legs from behind on Christian Wilhelmsson and then left his leg out as captain Francesco Totti went on the attack eight minutes later. Some 11mins after that a Roma corner found its way to Rodrigo Taddei, whose shot deflected off Wes Brown past Edwin van der Sar. Yet on the hour mark Utd received their equaliser as van der Sar collected a shot, threw to Christiano Ronaldo and his run allowed him to release Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who chipped a sweet ball over for Rooney to chest control and then simply tee up a shot that had goal all over it. However Utd went behind seven minutes later when on the break Amantino Mancini, who had previously produced four step-overs to dazzle Lyon's 'Anthony Réveillère before scoring in the previous round, porduced a shot that was tamely parried by van der Sar, and Mirko Vucinic immediately reacted to shoot into the net.
Sir Alex Ferguson was content with the result because of the away goal and Man Utd at home is expected to be a stronger show than last night. The crowd scenes will give the impression the Man Utd fans are spoiling for trouble following on from Lille fixture, something which I understand the Italian sports writers have mentioned. There appears to have been little in condemning what appeared to be heavy-handed tactics solely against the Utd fans, whereas the alternative should have been simply forming a barrier between both fans and the secured plastic fencing, fencing which would need to be of height to prevent objects reaching over.
Tonight is Spurs quest in the UEFA Cup at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan of Sevilla, who are very strong in La Primera Liga. I sense a good battle between the two who both have stern attacking abilities and a determined defensive line, it's the tie of the competition for me and hopefully will make for a fast pace entertaining match.