Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lyon hold firm to oust Bordeaux

FC Girondins de Bordeaux 1-0 Olympique Lyonnais (agg: 2-3)
Marouane Chamakh's goal at the end of the first half was not enough to prevent the visitors reaching the semi-finals for the first time.

Lyon hold firm to oust Bordeaux

Olympique Lyonnais withstood a barrage of pressure to clinch a gritty aggregate win against FC Girondins de Bordeaux and book their place in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time.
Leading 3-1 from the first leg, the visitors defended with fierce determination to protect their advantage, although it took another sensational Hugo Lloris save in the closing moments to ultimately seal the triumph. Marouane Chamakh had halved the deficit with his fifth European goal of the season just before the break, setting up a thrilling second half in which Les Girondins poured forward relentlessly. Lyon stood firm, however, thus ensuring they will compete in a semi-final after falling in the last eight three times in the previous six years.

Les Marine et Blanc entered the contest boasting a perfect home record in this season's competition yet three defeats from their last three outings was clearly playing on the French champions' confidence. As Laurent Blanc's men struggled to find their passing game, OL warmed to the task and twice threatened to extend their aggregate lead early on. Michel Bastos rifled a powerful free-kick narrowly wide and Bafétimbi Gomis nodded César Delgado's corner over before the hosts gradually got a foothold.

Not surprisingly, when Bordeaux stirred on 18 minutes the danger came from a free-kick. Wendel's superb delivery from the right drew Lloris off his line but Yoann Gourcuff failed to add to Bordeaux's 11 set-piece goals this term, glancing his header over. The opening brought the crowd to life, though, and suddenly the momentum was firmly with Bordeaux. Only a series of towering headers from Cris kept Claude Puel's side afloat as Benoît Trémoulinas and Wendel fizzed over crosses from either flank.

Les Girondins were out of luck on 44 minutes when former Lyon midfielder Alou Diarra thundered a dipping volley against the crossbar from distance, although the home fans were soon celebrating. Seconds before the interval, the marauding Trémoulinas collected Jussiê's return ball on the left, surged to the byline, and when Jaroslav Plašil flicked on his near-post cross, Chamakh was on hand to force in his second goal of the tie from close range.

If Les Gones were struggling to create chances without their suspended talisman Lisandro, his replacement Gomis was quick to show in the second half. Directly from the restart, the French international broke free on the right side of the penalty area and evaded the advancing Cédric Carrasso, only to shoot tamely at covering defender Marc Planus from a testing angle.

Bastos then fired a volley wide before the French champions seized control and threw everything at Lyon in the last half-hour. Chamakh was a constant menace yet with Cris and Jean-Alain Boumsong typically combative, the Moroccan international could not forge a clear opportunity. Bordeaux always looked capable of scoring the all-important second from a set piece, but for once their favoured weapon failed to deliver. Ludovic Sané headed Gourcuff's corner wide with ten minutes remaining and Lloris pulled off a stunning save from Wendel's header on 87 minutes as time ran out on Bordeaux.

At a glance

What happened
Marouane Chamakh struck on the stroke of half-time but Laurent Blanc's side were unable to find the goal that would have sent them through.

Key moment
With three minutes remaining Wendel sent a bullet header towards the Lyon goal but, not for the first time in the tie, Hugo Lloris pulled off a fabulous save.

Numbers game

Bordeaux won all five of their home games in this season's UEFA Champions League but it was not enough to keep them in the competition. 
One on one
Cris was outmanoeuvred for Chamakh's goal but otherwise held the Moroccan striker in check with a typically combative and imposing display.

Crowd pleaser
In the 44th minute former Lyon midfielder Alou Diarra unleashed a thunderous shot from 25 metres only for the crossbar to intervene.

What it means
After three quarter-finals Lyon are in the semi-finals for the first time – Ligue 1's first representatives in the last four since 2003/04.

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United buckle under Bayern strain & yesterday's UCL results

April 7th 2010

 United buckle under Bayern strain

Manchester United FC 3-2 FC Bayern München
(agg: 4-4, Bayern win on away goals)

United buckle under Bayern strain

A magnificent volley from Arjen Robben capped a stunning Bayern recovery with the home side having taken a 3-0 lead before Rafael's dismissal.

FC Bayern München fought back from three goals down on the night to oust Manchester United FC from the UEFA Champions League on away goals.

On a pulsating evening, United stormed into a three-goal lead through Darron Gibson and a Nani double. Yet Ivica Olić's goal just before the break raised Bayern hopes and after Rafael's 50th-minute dismissal, Bayern capitalised on the extra man thanks to a stunning Arjen Robben volley 16 minutes from time.

It was a repeat of the Dutchman's decisive goal in the identical away-goals win against ACF Fiorentina in the last 16 and means Bayern can look forward to their first semi-final since 2001, the year of their last European crown when they also beat United at this stage.

The home fans had a lift before kick-off with the news that Wayne Rooney would be starting, just days after Sir Alex Ferguson had said he faced "two to three weeks" out with the ankle injury sustained in the first leg.
United then made a dream start with a third-minute goal involving two other surprise names on the team sheet. Rafael, in for Gary Neville, dispossessed Franck Ribéry and played the ball to Rooney, who laid it on to Gibson. The Northern Irishman, making only his second start of 2010, side-footed a low shot inside the near post from the edge of the box for his first UEFA Champions League goal.

After seven minutes United had their second. Antonio Valencia teased Holger Badstuber out on the right before driving in a low cross that Nani, ghosting beyond the Bayern back line, turned in with a cute flick of his heel. Michael Carrick, with a shot, and Rooney, a header, then went close with Bayern were struggling to live with the pace of United's play, even with Rooney now hobbling. They duly made it 3-0 as Valencia broke down the right and crossed for Nani to drive the ball high into the net.

Two minutes later, however, Bayern pulled a goal back through Olić. Latching onto Thomas Müller's flicked header, the Croatian shrugged aside Michael Carrick and beat Edwin van der Sar from a tight angle.
Louis van Gaal sent on Mario Gómez for Müller at the interval and within five minutes Bayern found themselves with a man advantage when Rafael collected a second yellow for pulling back Ribéry.

With Rooney making way for John O'Shea, Bayern pressed for a second and Van der Sar punched clear a Ribéry drive just before the hour while Gómez skimmed the crossbar with a header. It was not all one-way traffic, not with United's counterattacking threat – twice Butt saved well from Nani, while Carrick and Gibson spurned half-chances.

With 16 minutes remaining, though, Robben broke United's resistance by levelling the aggregate scores at 4-4. Ribéry's corner found him on the edge of the box and the Dutchman drove the ball on the volley past a helpless Van der Sar and into the far corner. For United, the dream of a third successive final was over.

April 6th 2010 

Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal
Short Summary: All of Barca's goals scored by the world's best player, Lionel Messi, and one early goal from the Gunners' Nicklas Bendtner.

CSKA Moskva 0-1 Internazionale
Short Summary: Only goal of the match was scored by Sneijder, launching Inter into the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2003.

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Chivu will meet Messi in the semi finals of the Champions League

Romanian international Cristi Chivu is the only Romanian player to play in the semi finals of the Champions League after his team Inter Milan beat CSKA Moscow last night (Tues).

Wesley Sneijder scored for Inter in the sixth minute qualifying his team for the semifinals.

Inter Milan is the first team to qualify for the semi finals, after Barcelona who humiliated Arsenal London by 4-1, all four goals being scored by Lionel Messi.

Defender Cristi Chivu was back on the pitch only two weeks ago, after having undergone head surgery in January.

He had suffered a fractured skull during a match his team won against Chievo on 6 January in Italian Series A play. Chivu, 29, injured his head in a duel with Sergio Pellissier.

Another Romanian in the Bundesliga

Another Romanian could be set to play in the Bundesliga, it was revealed today (Tues).

Football player Paul Parvulescu, from Gaz Metan Medias, is going to be transferred to Hoffenheim, according to Prosport.

Parvulescu, 21, is reportedly in discussions to sign a contract for five seasons and the Romanian club will get 1.5 million Euros, Prosport wrote, quoting sources from the club. The transfer has not been confirmed officially.

Currently, Romanian Ciprian Marica is playing for VfB Stuttgart.

Another Romanian, Alexandru Ionita, from Rapid, has signed a three and a half years contract with FC Koln, starting this summer.