Binya madness, Sky Sports punditry and The Reds
Along with good British action in the Champs League with the unfortunate exception of Ranger's quest in the Nou Camp last night, and congrats to Man Utd and Arsenal in qualifying, two moments bode for highlight.
Infamous as it is now, Benfica's Augustin Binya came to challenge Celtic's Scott Brown on Tuesday evening, some 5mins to end of normal time, Celtic already 1-0 up from Aiden McGeady's deflected effort just before half-time, Celtic having taken the ascendancy in attacking constantly Benfica's goal, the Portuguese outfit having little to no answer in return. Brown evaded one challenge and has he reached for the ball Minya clearly raised his right leg high and brought it down with intent upon Brown's right shin. It was the proverbial 'leg-breaker' and for me, had Brown aimed to continue his momentum with his leg instead of taking the force of the impact, we would very much have seen Brown's leg broken.
It was as if someone had poised over a prone person and brought up an implement to strike it down with intent and we were witnesses. Binya's challenge was grotesque, nowhere near inherent of football, and was less of a tackle as much as it was more to do with thuggery. UEFA have been keen to never interfere with referees' decisions and here the official, Swedish referee Martin Hansson, showed a straight red to an already booked Binya. The Celtic players raced over to protest personally to Binya and at first I wondered why, only to be appropriately answered by the replay. Yet UEFA have said they always issue a disciplinary matter regarding red cards and at the least there is a one-match ban, when in fact this sending-off was a straight red card offence and therefore a three match ban at the least, and then there should be consideration over further punishment as Binya was already booked and the severity of the offence.
Secondly, yesterday's Sky Sports panel of Jamie Redknapp, former Blackburn Rovers, Udinese and FC Copenhagen manager Roy Hogdson and Graeme Souness discussed after the Man Utd v Dynamo Kiev match. Discussions then moved onto a round-up of the other Champs League action from elsewhere, including the Jose Alvalade stadium of Sporting Lisbon hosting Roma. Sporting's Abel shot at Roma's keeper Doni, which the Brazilian stopper blocked quite poorly and then reacted enough to gather the ball before it went over the line. Immediately Sporting's Liedson rushed in with Roma's David Pizarro and appeared to have taken the ball out of Doni's hands, the ball then went over the line but Belgian ref Frank de Bleeckere disallowed it all with a clear indication of the arm pointed away from goal.
The pundits, lead first by Redknapp, went on, along with Richard Keys, to criticise the referee for not giving a clear goal. Not one of them discussed Liedson's contact nor the referee's position afterwards that would have cleared up any confusion. I myself had to rewind the action to verify what happened. In the same way the panel paved over mentioning how Carlos Tevez was offside yet made contact with the ball after Christiano Ronaldo's freekick was headed on by Michael Carrick. The ball then looped to Gerald Pique, who headed the ball in. My colleague T has questioned Redknapp's analysis and I find myself questioning yesterday's panel further.
We here on EFT have been pulled up on minor things without question yet the Sky Sports panel are experienced former professionals of the game and should analyse further before making inaccurate criticisms. We speak out about the bigger issues in football, some of which are further enhanced by media coverage, the small issues are just as important.
A little mention on Liverpool's 8-0 win over Besiktas. This game was about more than achieving a record, it was about committing oneself to the cause to its fullest requirement. Such a requirement was goals and all of them from Liverpool in the Besiktas goal, no more Hyypia errors. Liverpool should be in pole position in their group and to find them at rock-bottom is very unusual. The form of play that achieved eight goals was more rewarding than the goal tally.
I would be frustrated were they to play as they did and only score one, even though one goal more than Besiktas would bring the needed three points, but to see them play as they damn well should do, given the pedigree of the side, was enough along with perhaps a 2-0 or 3-0 finish, much less eight. We continue with that form of eagerness to score and finishing, we can rise up the league and get our true form of play on display regularly.