• Tuesday, 1 May 2012

    TW3 #10

    The weekend in review.

    Cup joy for Lyon, 1-0 winners over Quevilly who will forever be called 'plucky', and Olympiakos who sealed a league and cup double.

    League joy for Porto where their win over Marítimo and Benfica's draw with Rio Ave meant that the gap is out to six points. With Porto shading the head-to-head record, they cannot now be caught in the final two games. League joy for Basel who beat Lausanne while Luzern could only draw with Grasshopper. No joy for Christian Gross, offed by Young Boys after defeat to embattled Servette.

    Almost impossible to interrupt league joy for Ajax. A win over FC Twente - who slump to sixth as a result - leaves the Amsterdammers six points clear of Feyenoord who move up to second. But with a goal difference superior to the tune of 24, it's pretty much a done deal. Quite a start to the managerial career of Frank de Boer. At least one, maybe two, of the top six will miss out on European football for next season. There's a hell of a scrap on for second, third and fourth. The final European spot is decided by play-offs.

    So close to league joy that you can almost smell it in France. Montpellier scraped past Toulouse on Friday night and sat back while PSG took on Lille and lost. The gap is out to five points now, as big as it's been all season, but four games remain.

    Three games and three points; so goes the equation in Italy. Juventus remain unbeaten and beat lowly Novara easily. Milan did likewise in Siena, maintaining the status quo. Behind them, four teams - Lazio, Napoli, Inter and Udinese - are locked on 55 points in the scramble for third.

    European places are settled in Germany. Dortmund are champions, Bayern are second, Schalke - who bade a home farewell to Raúl - are third. Gladbach are fourth and go into the Champions League qualifiers. Levekusen and Stuttgart go into the Europa League. Hertha were battered by Schalke and now must win their final game to stand a chance of staying up through the relegation play-off. Koln will go into that play-off with any other outcome, the opponents being Fortuna Dusseldorf, Paderborn or St Pauli. The latter two play each other next week, Fortuna against mid-table MSV Duisburg.

    Delayed league gratification in Spain. El Real comfortably beat Sevilla and then hoped Rayo could take something from their home game with Barcelona. They couldn't, emphatically so. 7-0 it finished. And so we go to Wednesday and El Real's trip to the Basque country and Marcelo Bielsa's Athletic. In the race for third, Málaga beat Valencia by a goal to nil to go level on points. Wins for both Sporting Gíjón - 3-0 away to Espanyol - and Zaragoza - 2-0 over Athletic - kept their survival hopes alive for now. Another win for Villarreal will end it for both. On Tuesday, the Yellow Submarine go to Gijón.

    Derby joy for Wisła Kraków and Manchester City. The former doesn't really ignite the race for the Ekstraklasa title - that's a five-way scrap between Legia, Slask, Ruch, Lech and Korona - but, coupled with Lechia's win over Widzew Łódź, confirms Cracovia's relegation. It didn't help that Cracovia finished with nine men. Vincent Kompany and some strangely negative tactics from Alex Ferguson helped City to a win over their neighbours United and leaves the EPL title race on a knife-edge.

    Finally, title joy for the Brisbane Roar, recipients of one of the worst calls in refereeing history. With the game locked at 1-1 and in the fifth of four minutes of added time at the end, a complete airshot in the box from Roar striker Besart Berisha ended with him falling over and claiming a penalty. To the incredulity of most of the 50,000+ in the ground, it was given. You know it's a dodgy call when the recipient of the penalty runs off celebrating like Marco Tardelli. After a bit of a scuffle, for which Perth defender Billy Mehmet was booked for slapping Berisha, the man 'fouled' slotted home the spot kick to win the title for his side. The referee Jared Gillett is a Brisbane man. The final was played in Brisbane. Gillett's other half works for the Roar. Why the A-League put him in charge is a mystery. Not for one moment are we suggesting it was anything other than an error, but when you have the opportunity to nip conspiracy theories in the bud, why not take it? It's as much to be seen as being beyond reproach as actually being it. Needless to say, the head of the refereeing board backs his man to the hilt, reckoning that even after replays, he saw enough contact - we saw none, incidentally - to warrant the penalty. Rubbish.

    Still lots to play for around the leagues and a busy midweek schedule to come.

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