Copa Del Rey Final
Copa Del Rey Final
Photo: FOX Soccer
By: Jamie Trecker
The conductor called the train: “Lille, Calais…and Chelsea FC.” The platform gave off a small roar of approval. Chelsea fans were headed home with another piece of silverware in their tuck. They seemed underwhelmed.
They should not have been. The Europa League final marked a number of firsts for the denizens of the Bridge: they became the first English team to have won all three major European titles (including the now-defunct Cup Winners’ Cup); the first European team to hold both European titles on offer simultaneously, and surely the first team to win back to back titles with, ahem, “interim” managers.
But as warmly as Roberto Di Matteo was regarded by the fans, his replacement, Rafa Benitez, is despised. Last night the ArenA and the arena of social media alike were filled with the moaning that has characterized Chelsea’s season.
Commenters made passing reference to the plastic flags that littered the away ends and a comment Benitez had once made about despising them. Unforgivable! The team started slowly – perhaps a reflection of the fact that they have now played more games in a season than any other English side since the Arsenal of 1970-71. So what! Chelsea’s now secured European play and won a major title under Rafa and erased a dangerous mid-season swoon. He was greeted by bedsheets and cardboard with the same message: “WE WANT MOURINHO.”
Photo: FOX Soccer
Victory and defeat
“Back-to-back” European Champs!
What. A. Finish. Branislav Ivanovic rose higher than everyone else on Chelsea’s last-minute corner kick in stoppage time, and his arching header sailed past Benfica goalie Artur and into the back of the net for a dramatic, late, Europa League-winning goal.
Incredibly, Chelsea are now simultaneous Champions League and Europa League title holders. Congratulations!
You have to see it to believe it. In the npower Championship playoffs, Watford and Leicester City were tied 2-2 on aggregate, with Leicester ahead on away goals. In the 97th minute, Leicester earned a penalty kick and looked to put the tie on ice.
Cue the dramatic music.
After Leicester’s Anthony Knockaert penalty attempt was denied not once, but twice by keeper Manuel Almunia, Watford then charged up the field like bats out of hell. In a span of twenty seconds, they delivered the goal that put them through to the Championship final for a chance at Premier League promotion.
Absolutely incredible. Reminiscent of Landon Donovan’s 2010 World Cup goal vs Algeria, this is why we watch the beautiful game.
To get a look from every angle of the moment, watch Sky Sports’ Johnny Phillips go nuts as it happens:
Manchester City v Wigan Athletic
Photo: Jamie Trecker / FOX Soccer
By Jamie Trecker
Wembley Stadium will turn seven later on this year. For a toddler, it’s getting quite a workout. Over the next several weeks, London’s iconic stadium will host the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League finals and then the Football League promotion playoffs – the richest game in all of soccer.
On Thursday, we were invited to an FA program shoot (you’ll see it on May 25) that will show off some of the stadium’s history and legacy. One of the most surprising things about it is how vibrant a venue it is outside of game days. During our taping, Wembley was crawling with tours, so many that the guides had to call in reinforcements and extend hours. It should come as no surprise that many of these visitors spoke German.
One thing that those visitors got to see – and did not know it – was the Champions League trophy itself. It’s kept in a silver gig crate up in the FA’s office on the fourth floor, and two young men carry it down to you. As we had the trophy outside, next to Bobby Moore’s statue, for security purposes we asked the tour group leaders to tell the visitors it was a replica. But, I can tell you now, that if you were a visitor between 2:30 and 3:30 on Thursday, you saw the real thing. Special congratulations to the enterprising little boy who went up and touched it.
by Kyle McCarthy
1. Is this showpiece fixture a chance to increase the profile of Copa MX?: This beleaguered competition returned after a 15-year absence in time for the Apertura, but it hasn’t captured much attention since its return to the scene. The absence of seven Liga MX clubs – including every entrant in the CONCACAF Champions League and the Copa Libertadores – and the prevalence of reserve and youth team players strips away most of the prestige. All hope is not lost yet, though. The presence of two Liga MX sides in the final offers a stark contrast from the Apertura edition (Dorados beat Correcaminos on penalties after a 2-2 draw) and supplies some hope that this match may provide a boost to the cup in the future.
2. La Máquina attempts to finally end its championship drought: Cruz Azul has not won a title since Victor Manuel Vucetich guided the club to the Invernio title in 1997. This proud Mexico City-based side has fared well enough during the past 16 years, but it has somehow managed to lose in seven finals during that stretch. Another setback at Estadio Andrés Quintana Roo might prove too much to bear.