Monthly Archives: May 2008

Red Letter Day in Red Square

manuucl champ

After NINE long years of waiting in agony, the European Cup has finally made its way back to Old Trafford. On a chilly and wet night inВ Moscow, Man United went head-to-head with arch rivals Chelsea in the final game of the season. And how fitting it was that these two titans also met in the first match of the season (Charity Shield) and ironically also ended the same way (Penalty Lottery). With the scoreline evened at 1-1 at the end of 120 minutes, the dramatic shootout saw Man United clinching their third European crown with a 6-5 win.

Vintage Prelude

All throughout the season, much has been said of Giggs and Scholes; of how their old legs would not carry them throughout the entire season; of how they may not be able to contribute much.

All critics and critiques were silenced in the final weeks of this fantastic season for the Red Devils when Scholes powered in the winner againstВ BarcelonaВ in the Champions League semi-finals. A week later, Giggs second half goal against Wigan ensured a nervy win atВ WiganВ for Man U to claim its second successive league title.

Clearly there is still place for experience in this squad rich with young talent.

Strange Tactics

Even before the kickoff, both sides employed some strange tactics. Chelsea chose to go with Essien at rightback over more experienced Belleti or Farreira. Even Shevcenko didn’t get a shot on his home soil. In the other camp, Fergie chose to omit Park from his list of players, even from the bench! This after the Korean played an instrumental part of their march to the finals. Instead, Hargreaves got the nod on the right.

A Tale of Two Halves

Whilst Man U dominated the early goings of the final, they only managed to score one goal through an unmarked Ronaldo. It was his 42nd goal of the season! Chelsea, who were on the back foot for much of the first half, struck back through some pinball luck when Essien’s through ball bounced off Vidic and Ferdinand and fell conveniently into the path of Lampard to slot it past Van De Sar.

Chelsea started to dictate matters in the second half and seemed to grow in confidence as the night dragged on and rain started to pour. Man U’s normally offensive minded Scholes, Carrick and Hargreaves was forced to play more defensively as the Blues piled on the pressure. With Van De Sar looking like he was having one of those off-nights, things were not looking good for Man U.

Tactical Subs

As the match dragged on into extratime, both managers used their subs to great effect. Kalou and Anelka came on as speed demons to terrorise the tired legs of Brown and Evra. Giggs, Nani and Anderson also came on for United, presumably in anticipation to take the spot kicks.

Defining Moments

For me, there were some moments throughout the match (before it went to penalties) that made this final truly memorable and exciting in terms of entertainment value. Many had expected a cagey affair but both teams came out and displayed good ol attacking English football. Plenty of chances were created by both teams that could have swung the match before the final whistle.

A stunning counter attack in the first half saw Rooney punting a 50 yard flea-flicker like pass to Ronaldo who crossed it to a diving Tevez whose shot was saved by Cech. The rebound then fell to Carrick whose shot was superbly pushed away by a one-handed Cech. Very much later in the match, Giggs had a chance to win it when Evra broke free on the left and squared the ball past two defenders and Cech to him. Unfortunately, Terry was there to save it off the line with his face!

Chelsea also had their moments when Drogba and Lampard both hit the post and bar that could have changed the game completely. Chelsea also didn’t help themselves when Drogba paid the price of a stupid slap which earned him a red card before the end of regulation.

Shootout Lottery

Penalty shoot-outs are definitely not good for the heart. Trust me, I think my heart stopped a few times during this lottery session. Both teams rightfully went for typical penalty specialists fromВ ArgentinaВ (Tevez) andGermanyВ (Ballack) as their first two takers.

With the score at 2-2, our regular penalty taker and a shoo-in for 2008 Player of the Year Ronaldo stepped up to take the shot which was brilliantly saved by Cech. I have no idea where my heart had jumped to when nobody in the blue jersey seemed to be able to miss that night. And with the score tied 4-4, Chelsea captain John Terry stepped up to the spot to take the final kick of the regulatory 5 kicks each. Flashes of Terry saving Gigg’s point blank shot, his earlier comments of wanting to wrest back the England captain’s armband from Ferdinand corrupted my mind as Mr Heart-and-Soul of Chelsea ran up to the ball and slipped as he skied the ball over the bar to the right.

The score dramatically went up to 6-5 after Giggs put Man U in front. Anelka was up next and his shot was pushed away by Van Der Sar to secure the win. What a dramatic end to a dramatic final.

Red Letter Day

Shouts of joy and Tears of relief filled the stadium as Man U celebrated their third European trophy. It was also fitting that this win came on their 50th anniversary of the fatefulВ MunichВ disaster.

It was indeed a win to savour for all Man U fans like myself, and it was extra sweeter with the victory sealing a double ( with the BPL already in the bag) for this fantastic season.

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Number of the Day:

3 – European Championships for Man United, the Champions of Europe again this year. And with the current youthful core squad, I can only think of better things to come.

(Originally posted on allandog.multiply.com)

Online Marvels

I’ve always been a sucker for trying out online related functions that is supposed to make life easier. Online banking, online purchasing, money transfers, travels, e-filing, etc.

So, when I recently heard of the online road tax functionality, and with my road tax expiring round the corner, I gleefully tried it out atВ www.myeg.com.my and here’s my quick take on it:

Filling up the form (< 5 mins), submitted late late evening. Two days later, received the road tax disc. I was totally speechless. It was so efficient I could hardly believe it.

I actually tried this like a month before my road tax actually expires just in case the usual system crashes and bugs may cause the road tax to disappear in the mail…heh.

In comparison, when I did the e-filing this year, the LHDN had a new function where one can actually pay the tax online immediately after the e-filing is done. Of course, I tried this out, twice and there was always a system error message. I had to jump over to an online banking site and settled the tax there, which was much faster too, compare to the multi-layered steps involved in the LHDN system.

Looking back, I have to take back everything I ever said about myeg. This online road tax renewal really really works!

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Number of the Day:

2 – days for my road tax disc to be sent to me (for a small fee of RM 2.75). In the long run, I think runners (who charge about RM 10) may be outta the business…

(Originally posted on allandog.multiply.com)