• Tuesday, 22 May 2012

    TW3 #13

    Big prizes dished out this week, a parade or two rained on in the process.

    First, to Munich where the unthinkable happened - Bastian Schweinsteiger missed a penalty. Even odder was that Arjen Robben, rather than the normally ultra-reliable Schweinsteiger, took a spot-kick in extra-time. Playing up to Dutch stereotypes, Robben missed which allowed Chelsea the opportunity to take the game to a penalty shoot-out. That Petr Cech guessed correctly at all five can't have been coincidence, but after Juan Mata had missed Chelsea's first effort, it looked like being Bayern's day, but Cech pushed Ivica Olic's tame effort away and Schweinsteiger hit the post after seeming to change his mind midway through his run-up. Didier Drogba, who had taken the game to extra-time with a thumping header two minutes from the end, beat Manuel Neuer with the decisive penalty to give Chelsea a first European Cup.
    It had an air of inevitability about it. The game itself, for all the personal trauma for Robben, Olic and Schweinsteiger, resembled Steaua Bucharest against Barcelona in the 1986 final with Chelsea content to sit deep and play on the counter. Bayern, like Barcelona in the semi-finals, just couldn't find a way through and attempting to sit on 1-0 - Daniel van Buyten replacing Thomas Muller - backfired badly.

    Ricardo Vaz Te ensured West Ham's stay outside the English Premier League was a short one, bagging a winner two minutes from time at Wembley against Blackpool. York City's Matty Blair proved the winner in the Conference play-off final at the same venue 24 hours later to make his team the 92nd entrant into the professional leagues. We'll have more on that soon.

    Second-half goals from Edison Cavani and Marek Hamsik denied Juventus a league and cup double in Italy, rather spoiling Alessandro del Piero's last game in the black and white. It also spoiled Juve's unbeaten season. They'd only once ended 90 minutes behind, in the semi-final second leg against Milan, but that only served to send the game to extra-time where Mirko Vucinic sent them through on aggregate. This was the first time the final whistle blew with them trailing. Sporting CP were beaten by a fifth-minute Marinho goal for Académica in the Portuguese Cup final and Hearts took the honours in Scotland after a thumping 5-1 win over city rivals Hibernian, Rudi Skacel with two.

    PSG did what they had to do to try to wrest the Ligue 1 title away from Montpellier's clutches by winning 2-1 away at Lorient. Trailing to Kevin Monnet-Pacquet's opener, Javier Pastore and Thiago Motta ensured the points went back to Paris. It proved futile though as a John Utaka double for MHSC sealed a comeback win after Olivier Kapo had given Auxerre the lead. A side built for €2m had beaten the side that spunked almost 20 times that amount on Pastore alone. Dijon were thumped 5-0 by Rennes and go down, their cause not helped by red cards for Younousse Sankharé and Chaher Zarour. Caen, 3-1 losers to Valenciennes, are the other side to be relegated.

    Vitesse will play Europa League football next season after beating RKC in the play-off. VVV Venlo retained their place in the Eredivisie, a 2-2 draw on Sunday enough to complete a 4-3 aggregate win over Helmond Sport and Willem II are back, promoted after a 2-1 win over Den Bosch following a goalless first leg.

    The last round of games in the Chilean Apertura saw Universidad de Chile finish top, a 4-0 win over Huachipato enough to seal the position after a bit of a wobble. They'll play eighth-placed Cobreloa in the first round of the play-offs. O'Higgins and Deportes Iquique finish second and third, five points adrift. Deportes Tolima will finish top of the Colombian Apertura as they are five clear of the field after the penultimate round of fixtures. Robin Ramirez snatched a late draw with Deportes Pasto this weekend. Behind Tolima, there's a real log-jam for the rest of the top eight places with five points covering second to tenth and 11th-place Atlético Nacional still have a chance to crack the eight.

    It was quite a week, all told. Next week sees the focus shift to matters promotion as several second divisions reach a conclusion.

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