Wednesday recap

11 03 2009

Barcelona, Porto, Manchester United & Arsenal this evening joined Villareal, Bayern Munich, Chelsea & Liverpool in the final eight of the UEFA Champions League. Look for the draw Friday week.

These European Nights are the ones for which we live & breathe … the scintillating cat & mouse football that perhaps only blithe spirits & neutrals can relish completely.

United ice Inter in secundo tiempo

Manchester United 2-0 Inter tonight. At Old Trafford, Manchester United hardly wobbled against a solid & admirably patient Inter side. Vidic headed in early from a Gigg’s corner, full of intent & purpose. Patrick Viera’s spastic marking and slip in the box left Vidic free. Ibra headed off the ground & crossbar from an equally venomous Maicon center … but no equal fortune. Ronnie iced it with a nod of a sly piece of service from Rooney at the corner of the box only a few minutes after the tea-break. Remarkably non-niggley game with few fouls; this reflects I think United’s confidence. They let Inter play but gradually syphon away the oxygen as the ball gets closer to the box. Inter, however, were decently imaginative in the final third. Ibra is gaining a reputation for not being a prime-time Champions League striker — but he was productive tonight, albeit lonely with Balotelli off on the left touchline. Muntari & Adriano came on in the second half for Inter and the Brazilian hit the woodwork nicely. Mourinho couldn’t be too disappointed en route to his bottle of wine with Sir Alex: “They were better than us … they were better than us. My side played up to their potential.” [Man Utd 2-0 (agg) Inter; Vidic 4′, Ronaldo 49′] .

Robbin van Persie

Roma 1-0 Arsenal tonight. A lively display at the cavernous Stadio Olimpico. Don’t you love AS Roma in their home strip? Not ten minutes in, Juan turned in a lovely move down the left side capped by a Totti drive across the box. Roma dominated possession. I’m looking at the UEFA possession chart and, funny, can’t see any evidence the Riise was playing on the pitch — in one place it says ‘Riise: shot blocked’. The nail-biter goes to penalties & Arse go through on Max Tonetto’s & Vucinic’s misses; Eduardo missed his take for Arse. [AS Roma 1-1 (6-7 pen) Arsenal; Juan 9′]

Porto 0-0 Atletico tonight. The draw at nil in Lisbon does not reflect the intensity of chances generated by Porto against a hapless Atletico Madrid. Good side, Porto, and they were going for goals at home. There wea an intense spell in mid-secundo tiempo when Atletico were all a-puff and Porto create a flurry of chances; this is when Atletico’s Perea and Ujfalusi were booked withing a few minutes of eachother. I’d like to see more from Atletico’s collection of high-quality Premiership rejects. [Porto 2-2 (agg) Atletico, Porto win on away goals.]

Barca 5-2 Lyon tonight. Lyon are not all that shabby. Two early class goals by Thierry Henry and a dribbling Goal-of-the-Year shout for Messi: he will be Footballer of the Year if Barca go the distance — which they can do playing like this. [Barcelona 6-3 (agg) Lyon; Henry 25′, 27′, Messi 40′, Eto’o 43′, Makoun 44′, Juninho 48′, Keita 95′]

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