March 10th, 2011
Midweek Results: Slightly New, Barely Improved
Image: AP Photo/Martin Meissner.
After numerous staff meetings, a broken window and two arrests (yes, it was the Kellys; no, they haven’t made bail) the Kickette staff have taken a collective deep breath and launched themselves into the unknown.
In response to your apparently voracious interest in our Weekend Results posts, we are going to attempt to make a permanent feature of our somewhat sporadic Midweek Results posts. This will involve rounding up European and Champions League fixtures plus any other business (Cups & whatnot) that we feel you should be aware of. At present we have no plans to cover Europa League games on the basis of:
A) The vast number of them involving teams we’ve never heard of;
B) The Thursday night kick-offs interfering with happy hour at our local bar.
If you complain enough, we may reconsider.
Furthermore, we anticipate teething problems and glaring omissions in the first few weeks, but we would hate to depart from our usual modus operandi and appear too efficient. You might not recognise us.
Tell us what you think, peeps!
Barcelona 3-1 Arsenal (aggregate 4-3)
Robin. Darling. The man can’t hear you. Image: Getty Images/Zimbio.
Considering the level of expectation attached to the second leg of the Arsenal/Barcelona fixture, we’re surprised to report that the game itself wasn’t actually a let down. Needing only a draw to progress, Arsenal fans would probably have settled for a quiet nil-nil scoreline. Once 95,000 people filled the stadium, Lionel Messi was set to maraud in the midfield alongside late fitness test passer injury Robin van Persie, so it was never going to be that way, now was it?
There was room for optimism in the Gunners’ fans stands during the early stages, but the increasingly frenetic defending that the English side was required to undertake as the first half progressed should have been a warning of what was to come. In fact, after Wojciech Szczesny was replaced by Manuel Almunia due to his dislocated finger, four bookings were issued and Cesc Fabregas’ ill-timed/placed backheel floated into Iniesta’s path clearing the way for Leo Messi (left) to score, Arsene’s men would probably have seen 1-0 down as a reason for optimism.
Image: Getty Images/Daylife.
Realistically though, even after Arsenal had equalised via a Sergio Busquets own goal, the writing was on the wall. Robin van Persie received a second yellow card for not having the hearing or reaction time of a trained bat and Xavi took full advantage of an Iniesta/Villa combo to slot home Barca’s second just before Messi converted a penalty to give them 3-1 and a place in the next round. And while Arsene Wenger has asserted that Arsenal would have won the tie if not for RVP’s dismissal, the fact that Arsenal had no shots on target in the whole game tells a slightly different story.
Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 Roma (agg 6 – 2)
One of these players just missed a penalty. Can you guess which? Image: Reuters/Daylife.
Having three away goals in the bag prior to the second leg, it seemed unlikely that Shakhtar Donetsk were going to undertake the kind of collapse that would’ve allowed Roma to qualify. Roma started cheerfully enough though, with plenty of opportunities in the first fifteen minutes that they failed to convert. They then conceded a goal, missed a penalty and had Philippe Mexes sent off for a second yellow, which left us feeling pity for his piggies.
We won’t mention Daniele De Rossi’s elbow on Srna. Suffice to say, if you thought Wayne Rooney was fortunate not to be sent off for a similar offence a couple of weeks ago, check this out.
After the break, Roma were in disarray and thoroughly exploited by Shakhtar who scored a further two goals to ensure qualification to the Champions League last eight for the first time ever.
In a moment of irony that Arsenal fans are sure to enjoy, their former striker Eduardo scored for Shakhtar. That’s got to smart.
Blackpool 1-3 Chelsea
Here we see that Nando’s bitchfacing is not impeded by either the blue of his shirt or his goal drought. He’s still got it, people! Image: Getty Images/Daylife.
Around the same time as the clanging of dropped points from the weekend’s EPL fixtures stopped aggravating our tinnitus, Chelsea kicked off their fixture against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road. A loss would have probably ended Chelsea’s title hopes once and for all, but the Blues put on a assured display for 3-1, with John Terry and Frank Lampard scoring the goals. Chelsea are now nine points behind Manchester United, with a game in hand.
Deportivo La Coruna 2 – 1 Real Sociedad
In Spain, a mid-table wrangle between Deportivo La Coruna and Real Sociedad was the feature presentation on Monday night. With only eleven points separating seventeenth from seventh position, every game is crucial and Deportivo skipped up to thirteenth place after Riki and Adrian scored in the 2-1 victory. Having taken one point from a possible nine in recent weeks, Sociedad will need to pull it together soon if they stand any chance of making it into the Champions League spots.
Tottenham 0-0 AC Milan (agg 1-0)
Image: AP Photo/Matt Dunham.
A goalless draw was good enough reason for Tottenham to celebrate their first CL quarterfinals foray Wednesday night, since they fought hard to overcome AC Milan’s supremely-styled barnets and pestering pointer fingers.
It wasn’t a cake walk by any means, and we were right to pass our fellow White Hart Lane faithful some insulin-inducing cupcakes as they watched their keeper, Heurelho Gomes, venture off elsewhere on a contact lens lookabout. In his idle wake he left William Gallas to save Spurs’ rears from Robinho’s repeated goal-line threats.
For us, the remaining 45 minutes were semi-brightened by Harry Redknapp and Pato’s obliques. Just like digesting 20 jello shots in the same amount of minutes, Tottenham’s manager opted for a sure fire thing in the second half when he swapped Rafael van der Vaart for Gareth Bale. Oddly enough, VDV headed straight for the tunnel, missing his chance at
admiring some abdominals fighting for the rights to keep a Milan kit during the post-match shirt swapping.
Alas, despite the Italians’ many mouth-gaping shots on goal – including an Ibra-to-Robinho scare in the 2nd minute of added time – Michael Dawson was pleased with his side’s ugly win. Rightfully so, one of the tournament’s lower-rung lookers move on to play another day while their once formidable foes get nothing but picked-through goody bags of generic brand hair gel as parting gifts.
Schalke 04 3-1 Valencia (agg 4-2)
It took Valencia less than 20 minutes of game play at the Arena AufSchalke to cancel out Schalke’s crucial away goal from the earlier leg of this tie, thanks to Ricardo Costa 17th minute cracker of a header. What transpired after that, however, was all downhill for the Spaniards.
Jefferson Farfán and Mario Gavranović – two names we know we’ve probably misspelled and have accepted the grammar gaffe anyway – managed to turn the home side’s frowns upside down by scoring goals on either side (40th and 52nd minutes, respectively) of the half. Coolio.
Bla, bla, bla…Valencia missed a plethora of chances that would’ve allowed them to reclaim their stake in the game, but Farfán sealed the Germans’ deal with a brace (Schalke’s 3rd goal of the game) a ways into injury time…bla, bla, bla.
Good…now that we got that out of the way, let’s tackle the game’s marquee moment: seeing Manuel “Duckie” Neuer and Christophe Metzelder vertically hugging and cuddling and possibly crying. We more than “liked” this, but similar to those suffering in our very own comments section, had extremely limited emoticon buttons at our disposal. Next time.
Image: Getty Images/Daylife.
Aside from the ref being forced to play yellow card charades, and Mikel Arteta limping off the field with some help from his mates, last night’s solo league match was much ado about Sylvain Distin.
Yup, we said it. An Evertonian world does exist outside Jack Rodwell. And we want in (for now; we have every right to change our minds at whim).