Glory, glory Man United
So Jose Mourinho‘s much-touted familiar territory advantage came to naught. However, when I was writing my own match preview, I did not expect that the match will be more about fortune than magic. Nobody expected fireworks from the Nerazzuri at Old Trafford, but then, we weren’t expecting sloppy play from United either. But perhaps Alex Ferguson will be happy that he had his fair share of luck, five years after Mourinho’s Porto rode their luck and snooped past the Red Devils at the same stage of the competition, an event which had launched the latter’s managerial career.
Vidic, now he is a class act. We used to laugh the centreback’s goals off as flukes, but now he’s forced us to reconsider him as a definitive threat in the opposite box apart from being mercurial close to his own goal. He broke through in the fourth minute itself, with a signature headed goal. Strangely, United thereafter seemed to have retreated into a shell, rather than attacking with the same swagger as they do when they get an early goal. Thankfully, the lonely Zlatan Ibrahimovic, despite being the hardworker he is, couldn’t get the break Inter needed so badly.
Call him overhyped or anything, but Cristiano Ronaldo sure is a handful for any team. Ferguson’s tactical ploy of shifting Ryan Giggs to central midfield and letting Wayne Rooney play left-wing had an immediate effect, the latter crossing for Ronaldo to score with his head, four minutes after the interval. And that was the umpteenth time the 10-7 combine worked magic for the Red Devils. I also wonder how one can consider leaving a side where you get to mae history every now and then. Nevetheless, a 2-0 lead was less than what it really was, and with 41 minutes of regulation time to go, Inter could have still snatched it with two away goals. However, even Adriano‘s introduction in the 58th minute did not yield any reward on the scoresheet. It remained 2-0 to United, who went on to their tenth Champions League quarterfinal in 13 seasons, with the dream of the Quintuple alive, and shining.
Bayern Munich’s 7-1 home romp over Sporting is the talk of the town. Add to that their 5-0 humiliation of the Portuguese side in the first leg, and it become a 12-1. A demolition job. In Catalonia, Barcelona made up for a nervy first leg leg draw by defeating French side Lyon 5-2, with Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi all getting onto the scoresheet. Last year’s losing side, I mean, runners-up Chelsea advanced with a satisfactory 2-2 draw at Juventus (3-2 in aggregate to the Blues). But most of the nail-biting was done this week by Arsenal and Roma fans, Arsenal’s 1-0 home victory setting it all up at the Olympico for the second leg. A 6th minute goal by Roma’s Brazilian defender Juan made it all square with everything to play for. The match went into extra-time, and finally, to penalities. Even there, it was all level at 6-6, when Arsenal’s Abou Diaby slotted home his effort, and the pressure got to Tonetto as he misfired his shot and fired the Gunners into the quarters.