Triumph of the Premiership as English clubs take it all
Manchester United and Chelsea will meet on May 21st in Moscow in only the third single-nation Champions League finals. The first ever such event dates back to 1999/00, when Real Madrid defeated Valencia 3-0 in Paris. Three years later, Milan edged Juventus by 3-2 on penalties in Manchester.
This is the epilogue of the Champions League Qq Online semifinals, in which the winners overcame their opposition by just one goal. Paul Scholes put Manchester United through at Barcelona’s expense with a sensational strike from 18 meters early in the game, while in the other semifinals Chelsea finally overcame Liverpool after two narrow defeats in previous encounters. Didier Drogba was the hero with two goals in what may prove one of his last games for the Blues before a reported transfer to Milan.
The finals in Moscow will be the second act of the season’s drama which witnesses a gigantic duel between United and Chelsea in the Premier league and in Europe.
On the other hand, Liverpool’s loss at Stamford Bridge meant the end of an unique tradition which saw them win nine successive semifinals in all European club competitions. Last time they were stopped at this stage was back in 1970/71 against Leeds in the old Inter Cities Fairs Cup (now incorporated in the UEFA Cup).
Champions League semifinals
Liverpool vs Chelsea 1-1 2-3
Barcelona vs Manchester Utd. 0-0 0-1
Chelsea vs Manchester May 21st
Path to finals
Sporting 1-0 2-1, Roma 1-0 1-1, Dinamo Kiev 4-2 4-0
Round of 16 Lyon 1-1 1-0
Quarterfinals Roma 2-0 1-0
Semifinals Barcelona 0-0 1-0
Rosenborg 1-1 4-0, Valencia 2-1 0-0, Schalke 2-0 0-0
Round of 16 Olympiacos 0-0 3-0
Quarterfinals Fenerbahce 1-2 2-0
Semifinals Liverppol 1-1 3-2
UEFA Cup finals preview
UEFA Cup 2007/08
Incredible Rangers reach finals in Italian style
The current season has given us yet another unlikely final, as was the case in the previous three editions. The last “normal” final encounter saw Valencia defeat Marseille by 2-0 four years ago, while the following years produced improbable ties like CSKA Moscow vs Sporting Lisbon, Sevilla vs Middlesbrough and Sevilla vs Espanyol.
This season’s surprise packages are Glasgow Rangers and Zenit of St Petersburg.
Rangers have delighted their fans by reaching their first European finals in 36 years, but the neutrals have been horrified by their ultradefensive, utterly negative style. It is no doubt ironic that in their semifinal tie against Fiorentina it was the Scots who built a stonewall in front of their goal rather than the Italians.
Since reaching the knockout stage of the UEFA Cup. Rangers have tortured the audience with unwatchable tactics, having scored a mere five goals in eight games (0.6 per match), qualifying on one occasion on the away-goals rule and on another on penalties.
Curiously, their previous finals appearance, in the 1972 Cup Winners’ Cup, also confronted them with a Russian opposition. Back then they defeated Dinamo Moscow 3-2 in Barcelona, but Rangers’ fans fought the police, earning the team a one-year suspension from Europe.
Zenit on the other hand have gathered much support all around Europe with their fast combinations reminiscent of the great Dinamo Kiev of the mid-seventies and mid-eighties.
Arshavin, Pogrebnyak, Zhiryanov, Anyukov, keeper Malafeyev and the Croatian central defender Krizanac have knocked out the Spanish League runners-up Villarreal, Olympique Marseille, Bayer Leverkusen and a powerful Bayern Munich before taking on Rangers at the City of Manchester stadium.
Their games against Bayer in Leverkusen (4-1) and Bayern in St. Petersburg (4-0) will doubtlessly make it into the golden book of the Russian soccer. A victory for them on May 14th would be a just reward for their adventurous, attacking style.
UEFA Cup semifinals
Bayern vs Zenit 1-1 0-4
Rangers vs Fiorentina 0-0 0-0 (4-2 pen)
Rangers vs Zenit May 14th
Path to finals
Rangers (from Champions League)
Round of 32 Panathinaikos 0-0 1-1
Round of 16 Werder 2-0 0-1
Quarterfinals Sporting Lisbon 0-0 2-0
Semifinals Fiorentina 0-0 0-0 (4-2 pen)
Group stage: Alkmaar 1-1, Larissa 3-2, Nürnberg 2-2, Everton 0-1
Round of 32 Villarreal 1-0 1-2
Round of 16 Marseille 1-3 2-0
Quarterfinals: Bayer Leverkusen 4-1 0-1
Semifinals: Bayern Munich 1-1 4-0