Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Manchester United--The Champions of Europe

It was always going to come down to one break or mistake either way, and it was the cruelest of fates for Chelsea captain John Terry and his team as Edwin van der Sar punched Nicolas Anelka’s weak penalty away to clinch the Champions League for Manchester United. Terry could’ve won the shootout in the fifth round but slipped on the wet turf right before his penalty, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s miss earlier on was cancelled out.

I won’t say that penalties aren’t the way to decide games like these; the alternative is to play until someone scores and that’s not reasonable in soccer like it is in hockey because it is much more difficult to find the back of the net. I also won’t criticize Anelka, Terry, or Ronaldo for missing their spot kicks, and I feel gutted for the two Chelsea players but particularly Terry.

It’s difficult to find the words to describe a game like this. I firmly believe the pictures and moments we saw speak for themselves, so I don’t want to spoil such a big occasion by not doing it the justice it deserves. I will say that Manchester United were the best team in Europe this season, even if they were dominated in the second half of this game and for stretches of extra time as well. I know that the best team doesn’t always win, but this year, that wasn’t the case.

Ferguson’s substitutions proved to work as all three of the players he brought on scored in the shootout. In that regard, you can say he outcoached Grant tonight but I honestly don’t think that was the case. Chelsea picked up their play considerably as the game wore on and were unlucky not to win before it even went to PK’s.

As I said earlier, it would be foolish to ruin what we just witnessed and so I’ll sign off here. Congratulations to Chelsea and especially Manchester United, the champions of Europe in 2007-2008.

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