May 5th, 2004 • 11:43 am
I guess there is some justice after all… The Chelsea millionaires were thoroughly outclassed 3-1 by 10-men Monaco in the first leg after Makalele’s shameful play-acting had caused the sending off of one of the Monaco players. But of course there was still lots left to do for Monaco, because the away goal rule meant that Chelsea only had to win 2-0 to go through.
And they did lead 2-0 after 40 minutes… The lead was not entirely deserved, especially in light of the fact that the first Chelsea goal looked like it was intended as a cross and was rather fortunate. But there was no doubt about the second goal by Lampard, and it did look iffy for Monaco, who had missed a couple of glorious chances themselves.
Then it all changed a few minutes before half-time, when Monaco were rather fortunate themselves to get a goal through a bounce off the post on Ibarra’s arm. But the goal was deserved, and there was no way that you could say that Ibarra’s gesture was intentional. If penalties are not given when defenders hit the ball accidentally with their arm in their own area, then there is no reason why goals should be disallowed when things are just as accidental on the striker’s part. In any case, the goal was given, and the equation was much different, because Chelsea needed a third goal just to get level.
In fact, Monaco were all over them in the early stages of the second half and deservedly got back on level terms through a superb goal created by Morientes through a perfect one-two with fantastic winger Rothen, who was the man of the match as far as I am concerned.
Chelsea were unable to hold their lead and to fight back, and can’t really complain that they were unlucky. They were beaten by a team that had more class and character than they did, especially in the face of adversity. Monaco fully deserve their place in the final, probably much more so than the FC Porto Theater Troupe. The current FC Porto manager is widely rumoured to be the intended replacement for Ranieri, and I can’t see how that is going to make this team of overpaid, overrated players more attractive to the neutrals.
I’ll readily admit that I am pleased to see Chelsea knocked out, not just because they are the ones who knocked Arsenal out, but because all this money business is a blatant attempt to further distort the already delicate balance between sport and finance in the world of modern football.
Let’s just hope Monaco can go all the way and win this trophy, which will send an even stronger signal to the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United, and Chelsea.