The Champions League final played in Moscow certainly met the expectations of many fans. It was the first all England final between the two Premier League powerhouses of the past few years. From the get go Chelsea and Manchester United showed why they were destined to square off in Moscow.
Led by Cristiano Ronaldo, the highflying attack of Manchester United pressured John Terry and the Blues. It led to a beautiful cross from Wes Brown into the penalty area where Ronaldo headed the ball into the left corner of the net. The play highlighted Ronaldo’s historic season for Man U. and cemented his place in what surely will result in FIFA Player of the Year honors.
Yet, the Blues fought back utilizing the wet surface and forcing their attack through Didier Drogba. Frank Lampard was able to capitalize off a United mistake in the box and slotted home the tying goal. The ball ricocheted off the back of Rio Ferdinand and fell perfectly for the onrushing Lampard.
It was certainly not the prettiest of goals, but Ferdinand’s poor tactical play was something Chelsea was able to exploit the rest of the game. Later, both Drogba and Lampard had two wonderful shots denied by the woodwork. Drogba hit a powerful drive from a dead stop off the right post, while Lampard spun around in the box and grazed his shot off the cross bar.
The game saw very few other opportunities for goal. The strong defensive lines for both sides culminating with the heavy down pour in Moscow created a tough environment for the goal scorers.
Thus the game came down to the dreaded penalty kicks, where we saw the consummate professional and Chelsea captain, John Terry, slip on the spot and drive his penalty shot off the post.
This sealed the deal for United who ran away with the title after an Edwin Van der Sar save from Nicolas Anelka. It seemed only fitting that Man United would have the stroke of luck for Terry to miss the chance in sealing Chelsea’s first European Championship. It summarized this season’s unbelievable run for Man U, and its most prominent player Ronaldo.
Yet, we seem to forget Cristiano’s penalty miss.
What if Terry had not slipped and put away the spot kick?
Would we be blaming Ronaldo, the Red Devils’ front man, for losing the Champions League final?
It doesn’t seem fair for this burden to fall on to “Mr Chelsea,” a man who has claimed his loyalty to the club and unabashedly cried after the loss. He represents the attitude that is missing in the modern game, and only too clearly represented by Ronaldo.
After the victory, Ronaldo lay flat on the ground in apparent awe rather than rushing Van der Sar with the rest of the team. It was very similar to his flailing antics on the pitch and made his reaction all too unbelievable. Although United ended up with European glory, Chelsea certainly gave the Reds, and soccer fans, a game to remember.
Everyone’s luck runs out sometime and Terry’s determination to reach the finals again next year should lead to an exciting season.
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