Wednesday, May 21, 2008


JOHN TERRY was the hero-turned-villain as Manchester United beat Chelsea 6-5 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out to win European football’s premier trophy for the third time.

It was Chelsea captain Terry who had prevented United winning the first all-English Champions League final in extra-time, making a miraculous, headed clearance right in front of goal from Ryan Giggs’ shot.

The England defender then had the chance for the crowning glory when the match, which finished level at 1-1 after 90 minutes, went to penalties.

Cristiano Ronaldo had already missed for United while Chelsea’s first four penalty takers were all successful.

But as Terry ran up to take his spot kick, he slipped on the rain-softened turf in miserable Moscow and his shot went wide of the post.

United, European champions in 1968 and 1999, made the most of their reprieve as Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar saved Nicolas Anelka’s tame shot.

It was tough luck on Chelsea, who had recovered from going a goal down when Ronaldo scored from a free header in the 26th minute.

Frank Lampard equalized just before half-time and Chelsea went on to dominate the second half.

Drogba sent-off after hitting post

Drogba’s curling shot cannoned back off the post and Lampard hit the crossbar. Drogba was then sent-off in extra-time for foolishly slapping Nemanja Vidic in the face.

In truth, there were too many fouls throughout the game to make it a great spectacle. The referee issued eight yellow cards and one red.

The recently relaid pitch inside the Luzhniki Stadium seemed to sap the players’ strength, many of them collapsing with cramp.

United had the edge in the first half, but Chelsea probably did enough to win the game in the second, thanks to the prompting of German midfielder Michael Ballack.

However, it was not to be. Fifty years on from the Munich air disaster, Sir Bobby Charlton – one of the survivors – was there to witness United’s and manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s latest European triumph.

Charlton’s record of 758 appearances for the Red Devils was surpassed by Giggs when he came on as a substitute three times from the end of normal time.

Not that Sir Bobby would have minded one bit. United through and through, he was no doubt thrilled to see the giants of British football write another chapter in their illustrious history.

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