Not much to scribble on here tonight. The thing about major tournaments, and I will include –
1. FIFA World Cup
2. European Championships
3. Cricket World Cup
4. T20 World Cup
5. Indian Premier League
is that once they are underway, they do make for excellent entertainment for the evenings. The even better thing about them is that they all generally show up in successive years (of course the IPL is an annual competition). Hence, the European Championships in Poland & Ukraine have been occupying most of my evenings lately. I’m backing the fantastic German team to go on and win it, although defending champions Spain and France will surely have different ideas. Who are you supporting ?
I’m buzzing, & this just won’t sink in for days to come. After all these years of heart-break, CHELSEA ARE THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS. Yes, there, I said it loud. I would like here, to go through 4 massive goals. The kind of goals, which we never really seemed to slot in the earlier campaigns. Earlier, in these moments, either our shoulders would droop low or we’d keep trying endlessly, but never get our rewards. This time around though, justice was swift. Here are the goals we scored, swiftly after conceding –
1. Frank Lampard vs Napoli (Che 3-1 Napoli (4-4 Agg)), 2nd leg Round of 16, Stamford Bridge.
Yes, this was only a penalty, but what a time to step-up & score one. Of course, Frank is probably one of the world’s best penalty takers, & that’s a fact even hater won’t deny (obviously since they claim his exceptional goal record is only due to the spot-kicks). We started the 2nd leg brilliantly & had one foot in the QF within 50 minutes, only for Inler to score for his side & put them ahead on aggregate. But around the 75 min. mark, Ivanovic headed the ball onto the right hand of Dossena from a corner, & Frankie converted the spot-kick, as calm as ever, bringing us back on level terms, taking the game into extra time, & the rest is now (our) history.
2. Raul Meireles vs Benfica (Chelsea 2-1 Benfica (3-1 Agg)), 2nd leg Quarter-Final, Stamford Bridge
We had to cruise our way to victory in this game. Having taken a fantastic 1-0 win away from home, leading 1-0 at home & with Benfica down to 10 men, it should have been a walk in the park to the finish-line. It wasn’t to be, with Javi Garcia scoring for the visitors in the 85th minute, followed by a period of extremely high pressure on our defense. For all the monies, Benfica looked the only side that could score again. In seasons past, they would have I’m sure, & that’d have been that. But Raul found himself on the ball from one of their corners in the 92nd, ran from outside our box to outside theirs, & then decided to launch one into the near top corner for good humor; before humoring the travelling Benfica fans at that end, for all the jeering he had received from them over the two legs. Game, set & match Chelsea.
3. Ramires vs Barcelona (Barcelona 2-1 Chelsea (2-2 Agg)), 2nd leg Semi-Final, Camp Nou
This was the big one ( I use “was” instead of “is” since something “bigger” happened in Munich). In a game where everyone expected us to be slaughtered, the slaughtering was under progress. Having conceded 2 quick goals & down to 10 men after JT did his “thing”, the flood-gates were surely open at 43 minutes; the “experts”, licking their lips at the prospect of seeing a rape of inhuman proportions, only the Gods that reside in the Camp Nou could bring upon. But once again, it was not to be. Not this time, not this campaign. What happened instead, left everyone stunned. They had read & revised their scripts for the half-time show, on how they would talk about a helpless, poor Chelsea, destined to concede another 3 or 4 at least; they ended up giving an extempore on how Barcelona could actually crash out instead. In injury time, first half, Lampard found Ramires, who had continued his superb run after initially having passed to Frank from a tight situation, with a defence-splitting ball. Rami, in turn, decided to find the back of the net with only one decisive touch – a chip above the goal-keeper of the highest quality, something for which some of the others would have been hailed the best in the world. BOOM ! We’ve been no comeback kings, & I’d be the first one to concede this. But now we were doing it. We were coming back !
4. Didier Drogba vs Bayern Munich (Bayern 1-1 Chelsea), Final, Allianz Arena
This was not to happen, surely ? For some reason, we had decided to respect Bayern to the levels of Barcelona. We had started the final as if we were involved in a relegation scrap & were playing the no 1 title contenders away from home. And it seemed justice had been served when Thomas Muller put the “home” side up in the 83rd minute. Surely it was too late for a comeback now ? Surely Chelsea had run out of their “luck” ? Not at all, “luck” we might have run out of, belief, Never ! And who better to bring us back into the game than The Drog himself. Torres, finally introduced after Bayern’s goal, won a corner, & Drogba converted Mata’s corner with a thumping header, the kind only he can provide. Manuel Neuer could barely scuffle as the ball went past his trembling fingers in a flash. We were back, once again ! And the belief, well it never ran out ! We are now Champions of Europe.
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