Thursday, December 07, 2006

Champions League Matchday 6

Group A
Chelsea 2-0 Levski Sofia
Barcelona 2-0 Werder Bremen

It seems that Ronaldinho is back to his best, and that means Barcelona are too -- even with half of their offence out injured. His ridiculously cocky free kick in the opening 15 minutes -- plus a possibly offside goal from Eidur Gudjohnsen -- means that Barca have survived to the next round. Werder Bremen dominated in the second half but the final ball just wasn't there, and it was too late by that point; they'll have to settle for intimidating teams in the UEFA Cup.

At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea earned the top spot in the group thanks to two rarities: goals from Andriy Shevchenko and Shaun Wright-Phillips. Awww, they let SWP out to play! Isn't that sweet?

Group B
Sporting Lisbon 1-3 Spartak Moscow
Bayern Munich 1-1 Inter Milan

Bayern clinched first place with their draw against Inter, who are also through to the knockout stages. Spartak Moscow squeaked into the UEFA Cup by beating Sporting.

Group C
Galatasaray 3-2 Liverpool
PSV Eindhoven 1-3 Bordeaux

Liverpool had already guaranteed themselves first place in Group C, so they fielded their B team (or, as YNBA put it, "Robbie and the kids," which is also the name of my new band) against Galatasaray. And it seems their thing to do in Istanbul is to concede three goals, except this time without the miraculous comeback and all that. You will note that they were also wearing ugly kits -- not as bad as the yellow ones, but still not good, and not even Xabi Alonso in white shorts will convince me otherwise.

Meanwhile, Bordeaux earned themselves a place in the UEFA Cup with a win over PSV. They will now go on to get slaughtered by Werder Bremen or something.

Group D
Olympiacos 1-1 Shakhtar Donetsk
Roma 1-0 Valencia

TSN, for whatever reason, chose to show the Roma-Valencia game, and I chose to watch it in the mistaken belief that it would be interesting, with Roma's place in the knockout round still up for grabs. Yeah, not so much. Instead, most of the interest came from wondering (a) how many ways Shep Messing could find to screw up the players' names ("Toe-ti," anyone?) and (b) just what kind of a name is "Shep," anyway? (It sounds like a name for a dog, not a person!)

Roma's win means they go through to the next round behind Valencia, while Shakhtar Donetsk are in the UEFA Cup, and Olympiacos are out.

Group E
Dynamo Kiev 2-2 Real Madrid
Lyon 1-1 Steaua Bucharest

Lyon and Real Madrid are both into the knockout rounds after drawing; Steaua gets the consolation prize of the UEFA Cup.

Group F
Manchester United 3-1 Benfica
Copenhagen 3-1 Celtic

Memo to Sir Alex: SACK UP. How many times is he going to fool around with 4-5-1, marooning Wayne Rooney out on the wing, before he realizes that it just does not work? Benfica's goal did come against the run of play in the opening half-hour, but United were still playing way below their potential. After that Fergie realized they were going to have to attack the game, grew some balls and switched back to 4-4-2. And lo and behold, they took Benfica apart. United managed to finish on top of the group, despite wasting their chances to kill things off in the last two matchdays.

In the other game, Copenhagen took advantage of Celtic's continuing dreadful away form in Europe, but it wasn't enough to keep them from finishing bottom of the group.

Group G
Porto 0-0 Arsenal
Hamburg 3-2 CSKA Moscow

The thing about the final round of group games is that you get some matches where everything is up for grabs, so it's utterly insane, and then other matches where there's nothing to play for, so it's utterly boring. And then there are other matches where everything is up in the air and yet they're just insanely boring, like Arsenal's goalless draw with Porto. Apparently the Gooners had a grand total of one shot on goal. Still, they finished top of the group, so maybe Thierry Henry will stop whining for a day or two.

Porto are through to the next round as well, as CKSKA Moscow lost; Hamburg finally managed to grab some points in their last match, but they're out nonetheless.

Group H
Anderlecht 2-2 AEK Athens
AC Milan 0-2 Lille

Milan have somewhat made up for their crappy domestic season by qualifying at the top of the group, despite the loss to Lille, who are also through. Hapless Anderlecht wasted a 2-0 lead against AEK, who go on to the UEFA Cup.

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