If anyone wondered why we love the game of football so much, the last couple of weeks should have cleared that up for you.
Chelsea 4 Liverpool 4, Cristiano RonaldoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wonder strike for Manchester United at Porto, EvertonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tense penalty shoot-out victory in the FA Cup semi-final and Liverpool 4 Arsenal 4. It has been wonderful football, wonderful entertainment and the perfect antidote the less savoury aspects of the game I talked about yesterday.
The Chelsea against Liverpool Champions League game had just about everything a game could have. It was a joy to watch, even for the Liverpool fans who came out on the losing side in the end. Great goals, great saves, keeping mistakes, misses, great passing, great tackling, great movement and great shooting. It had every sort of tension and took even the neutral fans through a full range of emotions.
The next night saw a much less entertaining game when Manchester United did a highly professional job in Porto. There was much to admire in the game, the defending skills of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic in particular, but overall, the game had many less thrills.
However, in the sixth minute of that game came a moment that anyone who saw it will remember for a very long time indeed. The current world player of the year has had a less amazing season this time around than he did last time. In fact, people were questioning his right to the title and whether he would ever again reach the heights he had previously reached.
When Cristiano Ronaldo hammered the ball into the top corner of the Porto net from 39.6 yards out, he produced a moment of stunning football brilliance. Even those who hate the man cruelly referred to by some as the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœgelled tumblerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t fail to admire the incredible skill shown in that second.
I measured out the distance of 39.6 yards on my teams football pitch the other day. I suggest you do it. You will be amazed by just how far away from the goal that is.
On Sunday we had a really tense game to watch at Wembley. Manchester United with a team full of youngsters but still looking for five trophies this season took on David MoyesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ hard to beat Everton side who are still the nearest team to being able to break into the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœbig fourÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.
It was, in truth, a game of little quality, but the tension kept you watching even if you didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care who won in the end.
The game ended up with one of those dreaded penalty shoot-outs that seem so unfair yet are such great entertainment for everyone other than those involved.
After all that we had a league game between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield. Surely there was no way this game could produce the highs of the previous games? Well it did. And more.
I have been watching football for forty odd years and I have seen very few games that could compare to the 4-4 draw the two teams produced on Tuesday night. This game really did have everything.
From the opening few minutes when it was Liverpool against Fabianski the Arsenal goalkeeper, to Arshavin scoring near half-time with his first useful contribution of the game, to LiverpoolÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rampant start to the second half, to ArshavinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s powerful equaliser, to the little Russian completing his hat-trick and Torres equalising with his second, through to the great run of Theo Walcott setting up Arshavin for a remarkable fourth goal and the injury-time drama of BenayounÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s equaliser, this game was impossible to take your eyes off.
It was fantastic and it was football at its best.
With games like these last few we have seen, can anyone explain just why anyone doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t totally love the game?
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