Thursday, 22 May 2008

A fine line between despair and euphoria...

Chelsea 1 - 1 ManU (Man U win 6-5 on penalties, aet)

... in this case, maybe a blade of grass ??

What can you say on a night of such emotion. The best that the Premiership has to offer provided a veritable feast of football which ended in the most dramatic and cruel fashion.
That it should come down to a tragically missed penalty from "Mr Chelsea" himself is the most dramatic of ironies. When Jose left all those months ago, no one dreamed we'd even get here and yet there we were, one kick away from an historic victory. When Ronaldo's penalty was saved by Petr Cech, the crowd in the Kings Rd wend wild. All thoughts of Drogbas dismissal 4 minutes earlier disappeared as up stepped our very own Captain Marvel to take the fifth and potentially decisive penalty.

The outcome will melt into history and few who read the cold result will remember the slip that shifted a goal bound (and Champions League winning) strike on to the right hand upright.
For it to happen to JT of all people was a crime of immense and proportions. The same JT who had a few minutes earlier thrown himself at a goal bound Ryan Giggs effort that could have sealed the match. No-one who was there, or watched on TV will forget his tears or the image of him slumped in AG's arms as the rain lashed the Luzhniki Stadium and Man U celebrated with their fans.

Yet this was a match that could and should have been won outright. Yes, Man U could have been out of sight by half time but thanks to an opportunistic equaliser from Super Frank, the second half was a revelation. Chelsea out fought, out shot and for large portions of the half out played Man U with Drogba hitting the post, Lamps hitting the bar and a whole host of other efforts that went begging. Some people will dwell on the lunacy and Drogbas actions in getting a straight red and thus consigning the fifth spot kick to JT but few of us would have wanted anyone else to take it.

But dont just take it from me; here's what the BBC had to say ...

"Chelsea, bluntly, did not deserve to be on the wrong side of the cruellest of finals. Blues skipper Terry was inconsolable after his penalty miss. After being tormented by the wizardry of Ronaldo for the first half-hour they got a foothold in the game, thanks to the industry and endeavour of the peerless Claude Makelele and from then on were by far the better team. They had twice as many shots and, as Ferguson himself conceded, they overpowered United through sheer physical strength and dynamic displays from Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack.

It was Chelsea at their imperious best. And you know what? They were awesome to watch, too - not something they have been labelled with much during this turbulent campaign. For that and so much more, Avram Grant should hold his head high. Even if he is shortly relieved of his duties, nothing will ever be as cruel as the way in which he saw his team suffer defeat in the most important game in Chelsea's history. "

So the season ends with no trophies and second place all round. Some will see that as an unacceptable and a job threatening outcome. I simply look back at where we were in September of 2007 and the night I've just endured and hope that the core of this squad (which includes the boss) stays together, gains some new blood and pushes on to even greater feats in 08/09.


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