donal_hanksOn Tuesday night in the fiery Italian cauldron of the San Siro, Manchester United turned in a performance which was in equal parts brilliant and bonkers, sublime and silly.

But thanks to a    stunning second-half double from Wayne Rooney and the fact that Milan have an average age of 60, they take a 3-2 lead to the second leg in Old Trafford in about three months time.

Milan started the better and took the lead through Ronaldinho. I believe it is a criminal offence not to mention that the goal in some way, shape or form stemmed from a David Beckham free-kick.

I’m not sure how many times Beckham touched the ball on the night, couldn’t have been more than four times, so to half create a goal with one of those four touches is actually pretty good going.

Milan should have been a few goals to the good inside the first half hour but they wasted chance after chance.

They remained on top until Paul Scholes equalised by, somehow, swinging and missing the ball with his right foot and having it bounce off his left shin and past Dida. A world-class piece of luck from a world-class player.

Rooney shone in the second half as Milan tired almost to a standstill. Two headed goals gave United a 3-1 lead and the game seemed as good as over as United looked like they could just score at will.

Milan made a change and brought on the sprightly 64-year old Clarence Seedorf who flicked Milan back into the tie and suddenly the aged legs of the Rossoneri came to life again. Pippo \’Offside’ Inzagi almost levelled it in injury time after Michael Carrick was sent off for kicking the ball away. After a bizarre night in Milan United have the advantage and will be fully expected to progress through to the next round.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Karim Benzema returned to face his old club Lyon with his new club Real Madrid on Tuesday night and things didn’t exactly go to plan.

Although they may be struggling domestically, Lyon brought the kind of form they showed in the group stages against Liverpool into the second round and scored a somewhat unlikely victory against the Galacticos.

Oddly, although things did not go according to plan for Benzema, they apparently did go according to plan for Madrid President Florentino Perez.

Reports in Madrid suggest that the result has given the mega-spending president the grounds to part ways with Manager Manuel Pelligrini. The president has apparently never been a fan of the former Villarreal manager and he views the defeat in France as proof enough that Pelligrini is not the man for the job.

Queue crazy stories linking every manager in the known universe being linked with the job in the summer. First up in the Sunday papers? One Jose Mourinho. Who’d have guessed that?


Arsenal, who had no doubt watched United’s bizarre match with Milan on Tuesday, decided they too would try their best to bring a sense of chaos and excitement to the Dragon stadium in Porto the next night.

And never to be outdone, Arsenal had an ace up their sleeve. Step forward Mr Fabianski! The Arsenal goalkeeper took it upon himself to inject some lunacy into the proceedings. Some might substitute lunacy for stupidity there.

Both Porto’s goals on the night can correctly be attributed to the absent-minded goalkeeper. The first was a harmless cross that Fabi bungled over his own goal line. The second was pure comedic brilliance.

When faced with an-on rushing Sol Campbell, Fabianski decided, to hell with the back pass rule and picked up Campbell’s pass. One might think that was bad enough but he continued to amaze.

The referee (whose comedic cameo in this instance can’t be understated) rushed in as if he were desperate to see Arsenal punished for such stupidity and demanded the ball back from the keeper. So what did Fabi do? He gave it to him! The lunatic.

And as Sol Campbell stood wondering why on earth Fabianski had done exactly what the referee had asked him to do and while Fabianski stood and wondered why on earth he ever decided to become a goalkeeper,  Porto took their free kick and rolled the ball into an empty net. Fantastic.

In between both Porto goals however Sol Campbell did score at the other end on his first champions league appearance since scoring in the final four seasons ago. 2-1 it finished so even after a ridiculously calamitous performance Arsenal are still favourites to go through.


On the same night in Munich, German giants Bayern hosted Fiorentina. Bayern have a great squad of players with the likes of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery and the Italians no doubt had done their homework and had plans to stop Bayern’s superstars from influencing the game.

What they couldn’t have anticipated was that Bayern had a secret weapon. They were not going to take the field with the legally-allotted 11 men. Oh no.

They were taking to the field with a secret weapon. A man with a whistle and a notebook. A man named Ovrebo.

Yes the deciding factor in this match was, unfortunately for Fiorentina (and the on-looking UEFA President Michel Platini) the referee.

First it was failing to send off Mark Van Bommell for a two-footed stamp, then, in case anyone suspected a secret allegiance to the Germans he threw a wiffle ball.

After Robben was fouled inside the Fiorentina box the ball broke to Mario Gomez who slotted home. Off he ran to the home fans to celebrate the crucial first goal only to realise the ref had given a penalty instead for the original foul on Robben. That threw everyone off the scent. Robben scored the pen and Bayern went in one up.

The Italians equalised early in the second thus gaining an important away goal to bring home to Florence.

This, however, sparked new life into Mr Ovrebo. He thought that 11 against 11 just wasn’t fair anymore so he dismissed Massimo Gobbi for bumping into Arjen Robben on the touchline.

Ovrebo may have been deceived    however    by Robben’s reaction to the shoulder nudge because at the precise moment when Gobbi bumped him, a sniper from the second tier behind the goal fired a shot that hit Robben square on the chest.

One can only assume because of the stadium noise no one heard the shot but by gum poor Arjen felt it. For about as long as it took Ovrebo to show Gobbi the red card. Then he seemed to realise it was just a flesh wound.

A few minutes later, another rash two-footed lunge from a Bayern player, this time Miroslav Klose. He protested however on the grounds that his depth perception isn’t all it should be because of the fact that his eyes are really, really close together.

Mr Ovrebo took pity on Klose, he tassled his hair and said “Don’t worry Miroslav, do whatever you like, I’ll never penalise you.” Klose skipped happily away.

In actual fact he skipped straight into an alarmingly obvious offside position and stayed there the rest of the match. Ovrebo was true to his word. Ilic found Klose in said alarmingly obvious offside position and he headed home the winner in injury time. Fiorentina protested but it was no use, Ovrebo’s night had been suitably embellished.

All second leg ties will take place sometime this year.

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