Thursday, May 22, 2008

Manchester United Are 2008 European Champions!!!

Manchester United - 2008 European Champions

Woohoo! Manchester United are Kings of Europe once again! After being crowned league champions for the 17th time just a week ago, they commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster by beating Chelsea 6-5 on penalties after a thrilling match that ended with a 1-1 draw at the Luzhniki Stadium to be crowned European champions for the third time in their history!

Luzhniki Stadium

I know I did say I would resist the temptation of blogging until the end of the month but I just can't hold back my excitement at the moment. The feeling wasn't as great as the Treble '99 win (who can beat that for a dramatic finish?) but it was a sweet victory nonetheless. The penalty shootout probably stole a few years of my life! It was so intense just watching the players take turns to put the ball into the net. What a roller-coaster ride and this was just the penalty shootout!

Paul Scholes Bleeding From The Nose

It was a really bloody affair. Being the first all-English final and both teams wanting to win the trophy so badly for different reasons, no quarters were given. It was a really memorable and historic night indeed even for those who experienced the magic of 1999. Paul Scholes who missed out on the 1999 final with a suspension finally played in a European Champions League final but not without picking up a memento in the form of a bloodied nose. Luckily, he managed to play on because he was so instrumental in the build-up of Manchester United's opening goal a few minutes later, headed in by none other than the magnificent 42-goal machine, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Cristiano Ronaldo Scores In Champions League Final

Manchester United had a few chances to finish Chelsea off after that but as luck would have it, Chelsea was gifted with an equaliser at the stroke of half-time. Actually, I had a feeling that was gonna happen but it still felt as awful to see Frank Lampard slot the ball past Edwin van der Sar. In the second half, Chelsea fought back like wounded animals and laid siege on United's goal, blasting no less than a dozen shots but fortunately most hit the woodwork or were off target.

Paul Scholes Making Way For Ryan Giggs

As the game looked like going into extra time, the bloodied Paul Scholes made way for Ryan Giggs who made his 759th appearance for Manchester United, eclipsing the record held by Sir Bobby Charlton all these years. I told you it was a memorable and historic night, didn't I? Manchester United fought back in extra time but it was inevitable that the match went to penalties, not before a moment of madness though. In keeping with the red theme of the night, Didier Drogba got himself sent off for giving Nemanja Vidic a petulant slap minutes before the final whistle. What a fag! Punch like a man, dude!

Didier Drogba Shown A Red Card

Penalties ensued and we all know you need a handful of Lady Luck to get through this stage of the competition. It looked like Chelsea would be crowned 2008 European Champions after Cristiano Ronaldo had his penalty kick saved by Petr Cech. However, destiny had something else in store for the night. It started to pour at the Luzhniki Stadium as John Terry walked up to take his penalty that would break the hearts of all Manchester United fans.

John Terry After Missing The Penalty

Instead of ending the night lifting the biggest trophy in club competition by slotting in the winning penalty, he did a David Beckham where he slipped while taking his penalty. At that moment, I knew both Destiny and Lady Luck were on Manchester United's side and when Edwin van der Sar managed to keep out Nicolas Anelka's penalty, the rest as they say is history.

Manchester United - 2008 European Champions

Sir Alex Ferguson claims this is the best team he has ever managed and I don't think he's far from the truth. If they are not yet the best, they are definitely equipped to be the best ever Manchester United team. Many are predicting this team will dominate English and European football for years to come but I'm not looking into the future yet. At the moment, I'm relishing in the double triumph of arguably the best team in world football and without a shadow of a doubt, Cristiano Ronaldo will be crowned FIFA World Player of the Year and receive the Ballon d'Or later this year.

European Champions League/European Cup

English and now European Champions. What next? Global domination? ;)