Spiritul de fair play! Orice am spun, englezii ne day, cel puțin din când în când, exemple pe care ar fi foarte bine dacă le-am urma. Ultimul este din lumea pasionată și nu de puține ori turbată a fotbalului. Iată ce scrie un britanic după o partidă nebună, în care echipa engleză a pierdut, repet a pierdut. Nici urmă de golănimea care există prin alte părți nu numai în tribune, ci chiar printre autorii de comentarii ziaristice. Bravo Anglia! Long live the British Lion!
Real Madrid 3 Manchester City 2: match report
Read a full match report of the Champions League Group D match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at the Bernebeu, Madrid on Tuesday Sept 18 2012.
By Henry Winter, at the Bernabeu
9:45PM BST 18 Sep 2012
Viva Ronaldo. Viva football. Picking up possession in the last minute with the score at 2-2, Cristiano Ronaldo decided that a truly stunning game of football needed to climax in spectacular style. And so he ran at Manchester City’s tiring defence and scored, sending Real Madrid fans into paroxysms of delight and sending Jose Mourinho on a wild knee-slide across the grass.
Ronaldo had described himself as “sad” in recent times, indicating that he felt under-appreciated in a sport that so frequently places the individual garlands around the necks of Barcelona luminaries like Lionel Messi and Andrés Iniesta. But when he conjures up a match-winning moment like this, coupled with the memory of some of his first-half prowess when the “taxi for Maicon” headlines were being dusted down, Ronaldo deserves hailing as one of the greats. He affects scorelines, moods, lives. He makes fans happy. He is Mourinho in boots, moody, needy but very special.
As the Real supporters spilt out on the Castellana, a critical spotlight was inevitably being trained on Joe Hart during the post-match inquisition for failing to react smartly enough to Ronaldo’s shot. City’s keeper had been superb, particularly in the first half, twice denying Real’s No 7, yet it needs emphasising that he was let down badly by his defence.
Pablo Zabaleta allowed Ronaldo to glide away from him far too easily. Vincent Kompany, City’s captain and usually such an alert sentry, ducked as the ball came thudding goalwards. The ball appeared suddenly in front of Hart like a malevolent zephyr, dipping and deceiving the keeper.
Frustration bit deep into City, into Roberto Mancini in particular. The Italian utterly detests such lapses of concentrations, having constantly told his players about the fine lines between triumph and failure. City were leading 2-1 with five minutes remaining. They were within touching distance of three precious points at the home of the Group D favourites, a result that would have given City the perfect platform to go on and ascend to the knockout stages. They have to learn how to see out games.
If Mancini and his defeated players left dispirited, their fans seemed to keep things in perspective, singing loudly. They remember that this time seven years ago, they were getting knocked out of the Carling Cup by Doncaster Rovers. Now they were giving the champions of Spain the fright of their distinguished lives in the Bernabéu. It will take time to win the Champions League, time, money and further rebuilding, but City’s time will come.
Nobody should forget that Real are on a mission this season, chasing a 10th European Cup/Champions League. After all the question marks over Real’s commitment levels, Mourinho’s players were really playing for their manager. Ronaldo had looked in the mood, responding to the whistle as if it were a starting gun. Barring Lionel Messi in possession, there is no more majestic sight in football currently than Ronaldo in full flight, almost defying physics with his ability to manipulate the ball while maintaining his speed.
He kept running at City’s defence, twice shooting wide, sharpening his sights, before twice being kept at bay by Hart. Maicon looked vulnerable although there was a promising debut from centre-half Matija Nastasic, 19, in place of Joleon Lescott.
Mourinho’s changes appeared to be working, though. He had dropped Sergio Ramos, seemingly deeming the Spanish international to be the most culpable for Real’s failing in La Liga. Ramos is a powerful figure at the Bernabéu and it was a huge, ultimately vindicated, call by Mourinho. Raphaël Varane, the tall French 19 year-old, was drafted in to the heart of Real’s defence and showed signs of his rich promise, closing down Carlos Tévez brilliantly at one point.
The attention, and the ball, kept coming back to the graceful and quick feet of Ronaldo. At one point, Real’s No 7 zigzagged past Maicon, Javi Garcia and Gareth Barry. Real were dominant. Ángel di María occasionally alarmed City’s defence. Xabi Alonso played the quarterback, dropping back, collecting the ball and distributing unerringly around the pitch. Some player. But Hart was the star of the first half.
Hart’s goal continued to be under near siege in the second half. Di María was in lively form, unleashing a shot that deflected for a corner.
Mancini then made a hugely significant move, withdrawing David Silva and sending on Edin Dzeko. The Bosnian made an immediate impression but his goal was made by an assist from the outstanding Yaya Touré. The Ivorian powered through the middle before releasing Dzeko, who calmly fired past Iker Casillas.
Stunned, Real hit back. Mourinho sent on Luka Modric and Karim Benzema but the equaliser came from Marcelo, who worked the ball on to his right foot and then beat Hart with a curling shot that took a slight deflection off Garcia. The game was now mesmerising. After Benzema had fouled Zabaleta, Kolarov drilled in the free-kick that swept past Casillas. But Real rallied again. This time it was Benzema levelling, collecting a pass off Di María, then firing a low shot that just eluded Hart.
Real had not finished. Ronaldo came calling. Mourinho’s tactics and pre-match mind games had worked. Viva Ronaldo. Viva Mourinho.
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