Just a quickie this morning. For those of you that didn’t see it last night, there was a magnificent fight at last night’s Champions League match at the Mestalla, between Valencia and Inter. I didn’t catch it on the highlights programme last night, but you can see part one of it here and part two of it here. Having watched it several times, I still can’t quite figure out what exactly started it, but I should take a moment to to congratulate both teams on a display of masterful petulance.
It was a bit of a strange night in the Champions League – Inter, the runaway Italian champions are out (away goals did for them), but their considerably more average rivals Roma are through, having beaten Lyon, who had looked like one of the best teams in the group phases. This match was lit up by a frankly brilliant goal by Alessandro Mancini (though I’ve never quite understood why defenders fall for step-overs when somebody does it repeatedly in front of them – you’d think that, after the second one, they’d just think “what the hell?” and lunge in with (what I at least would take to be) a healthy disregard for the heath of their opponent’s shins. Other than that, the two English teams are through – Chelsea largely thanks to a horrible mistake from the Porto goalkeeper, who gifted them an equalizer at Stamford Bridge last night, and Liverpool, who lost to Barcelona but also went through on away goals. I’ve been thinking that there has been a paucity of quality in the Champions League this season – if Liverpool are one of the eight best teams in Europe, then I’m minded to think that the European game is in some sort of crisis.
It home, there were a handful of matches to keep those of us that prefer our entertainment a little more earthy happy. Derby County moved back to the top of The Championship with a 2-1 win at Norwich City, whilst, at the bottom, Hull City now have something of the terminally ill about them with a 5-2 home defeat against Ipswich Town, a team who needed a win to ease their own relegation fears (coincidentally, I recently saw the current Ipswich team described as “the worst Ipswich team in fifty years”, which really is quite an achievement). In League One, it could be time to start lumping money on Bristol City to win promotion, after Nottingham Forest lost 1-0 at home to Doncaster Rovers at The City Ground – City are still a point behind Forest, but have two games in hand. Finally, in the Nationwide Conference, Oxford United closed the gap on Dagenham & Redbridge from ten points to eight with a 1-0 win at Southport, whilst The Daggers could only draw 1-1 against Stafford Rangers. It would still take quite a spectacular collapse for Dagenham to throw it away, but hope springs eternal.