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Maradona looks a right state.


As for the game last night. mad.gif




THE sad cynicism that has infected English club football like a virus struck at its heart last night when it pushed Chelsea to the brink of elimination from the Champions League.


Blame Claudio Ranieri all you want for the rash of unnecessary second half changes that unbalanced a side that had been coping perfectly well. They had their effect.


But what really blurred Chelsea's vision of a place in the final in Gelsenkirchen next month was a disgraceful moment that dimmed the spirit of football.


Eight minutes of the second half had elapsed and Chelsea were cruising when Claude Makelele tangled with Andreas Zikos in the Chelsea box.


As they picked themselves up, Makelele put both his hands on the face of Zikos in a gesture of playful contempt.


Zikos returned the intent, tapping Makelele lightly on the side of the head as he trotted away towards the centre circle.


Makelele, once considered the paragon of everything that is selfless in football, took a couple of steps and then crumpled to the floor as if felled by a sledgehammer.


Zikos looked on in horrified bemusement as the referee fell for the ruse. He showed Zikos the red card and in that moment, the match swung the way of Monaco.


Didier Deschamps, the Monaco coach, admitted afterwards that the sending-off was the pivotal moment of the encounter.


"My players found in themselves resources that I did not know they had after the sending-off," Deschamps said.


"Despite their inferiority in numbers, they were amazing. Their prowess exceeded all my hopes after that moment."


Of course, Ranieri's changes contributed to the malaise. He admitted afterwards it was his fault, his team "lost the plot".


But sometimes an incident in a match can make more difference than any amount of tactics because it can transform the spirit of a side.


And Monaco were so enraged by what Makelele had done, so furious at the injustice that had been done to them, that they played like men possessed.


For nearly half the match, they played like a team of 20 men, not a team of ten. They played with a ferocity and a determination they did not have before the sending-off.


And if there is much to be proud of in everything that Chelsea have achieved in this competition, Makelele's cheating last night marred it.


It made you feel they deserved what they got last night. It made you thankful that sometimes cheats do not prosper, that sometimes they are found out and punished.


The incident seemed to enrage Fernando Morientes most of all and opposing teams do not like Morientes when he is angry.


He had scored seven goals already in the Champions League this season and as Monaco swarmed all over a disoriented Chelsea, he grabbed his eighth.


John Terry, who had a poor game by his standards, stepped up to try to play Morientes offside but Morientes sprung the trap and rifled his shot into the roof of the net.


Seven minutes from the end, with Chelsea reeling under angry Monaco's new-found togetherness, substitute Shabani Nonda dealt Ranieri's team what may be the fatal blow.


Terry was found out again when Nonda beat him to a near-post cross but everybody knew the damage had been done by Makelele.


And so we are confronted again by the hard truth that we can no longer pretend we are immune from the scourge of cheating, diving and gamesmanship.


The outraged sense of superiority we used to enjoy when we saw the players of Real Madrid or Juventus rolling around in theatrical agony is lost to us now.




Our clubs and their players are as bad as the worst of them now, from Ruud van Nistelrooy, to Robert Pires and now, joining them in the rogues' gallery, Makelele.


It is a shame that in some quarters such cunning is still admired and viewed as a legitimate way of gaining an advantage.


But the curse of cheating is growing and growing and is condemning our referees to careers of controversy as they try to discern the truth.


No one really could blame Swiss referee Urs Meier last night. If a player wants to con a referee, it is hard to stop him.


How sad that someone like Makelele, revered at Real Madrid as the ultimate team player, happy to subjugate himself to the needs of the team, should contribute to the destruction of his team last night.


How sad that Chelsea, so solid in their spirit and progressing so surely in this tie, should be undone by such a moment. How sad that if they cannot haul themselves back into the tie at Stamford Bridge in a fortnight, their exit will be defined by the shame of Makelele.


A wonderful season marred by one act of cheating and the collapse that followed it.


It was bad enough that Marcel Desailly, Chelsea's best performer, escaped without censure for elbowing Morientes in the face.


Stripped by Makelele even of honour in defeat, Chelsea have more to regain than two goals when they bring Monaco back to west London.

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I watched a Korean broadcast of the game on Windows Media Player. I started off on a Chinese one which was higher quality but it kept stopping.


What Makalele did was disgraceful. The guy was just returning a stroke to the cheek with a similarly inocuous gesture. They've got to ban him and rescind that red card. It was a joke.


Ranieri seems to be taking a lot of flak but I think the main problem was that the man he brought on, Jimmy Floyd, had an absolute 'mare. We are talking Third Division stuff. He's knocked in a few in the Prem lately, so understand why he came on and maybe it wasn't such a bad move going for the kill. It was all Chelsea for about 10 minutes, Hasselbaink missed an total sitter and then next thing you know Morientes is lashing it in on the counter. I think Cudicini would have kept out the third, but that's the way it goes. It's not over yet.

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They normally show whatever is on ESPN.

You may have to get on early.

This was the first time I've tried.


For Engish commentary, look at the forums on fan sites, coz you can often get someone rebroadcasting local radio or 5live via Yahoo Messenger, Palnet or whatever.


There used to be quite a bit of local radio you could get online but most of the clubs charge now



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The Monaco Chelsea game is going to be repeated tonight on J Sports 3 (ch 308) at 10pm tonight. You dont need to be paying for the Champions League set to see this - if you can usually see ch 308, you'll be able to get this game. clap.gif

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Crap game, but nice result at Old Trafford clap.gif


Excellent game (not sure about the result!) between Newcastle and Chelsea last night, anyone else see it? Good stuff.

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congrats to the arse.


i was a bit gutted to see newcastle win but for some reason i have a bit of an affinity for newcastle, coming from the north east myself. i am gonna be going to durham uni next year too, so it will be my local club. im hoping i'll get to see shearers last season before he takes over the managers job...?

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Check this out:




"How ugly is Ronaldinho? There was no point buying him, it wasn't worth it. He's so ugly that he'd sink you as a brand. Between Ronaldinho and Beckham, I'd go for Beckham a hundred times. Just look how handsome Beckham is, the class he has, the image. The whole of Asia has fallen in love with us because of Beckham. Ronaldinho is too ugly." - A Real Madrid suit explains why they didn't snap up Ronaldinho (from earlier this year). Bet they're not saying that now.



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Very much doubt it.


There's been so many stories the last few days, basically all the best players are going to leave and go to another best team. Most of its probably crap.


There are just too many stories about Van Nistelrooy leaving Man Utd, I reckon that one might actually happen.

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I'm an Everton fan, grew up in that area of Liverpool before moving down to Gloucester. Thats why I support Everton. Not been back up there for ages though. Hoping some Evil Red Club (or other) don't get their hands on Rooney.

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