And then there was one

It's the 40th minute and Bayern have just scored the goal which truly killed off any hope of a United win and leave only one English club left in a proper European competition. I find myself feeling a strange mix of emotions. Only an hour or so earlier (and certainly the night before) I was praying for a Bayern win, nay a humiliation of the team that has so humiliated the rest of the Premiership over the last eight months. But as Mehmet Scholl reeled away from the goal and the best part of 60000 fans let everyone know who was going to the semi, I found myself wanting United to emulate the comeback of all comebacks two years earlier.

Maybe it was the look on the faces of surely the only team more arrogant than United, maybe it was tens Mehmet SchollGareth Southgateof thousands of Germans singing ‘Football's coming home’ or maybe it was just the fact that Mehmet Scholl surely has the same parents as Gareth Southgate. Whatever the motivation I just wanted to see the smiles wiped off all their smug, arrogant, self-satisfied faces. The only surprise in that sentence is that I'm talking about a team playing against Man U.

As far as the actual game goes, I have acquired a new personal hero who goes by the name of Roque Santa Cruz. When he nicked the ball out of Giggs' feet, then nutmegged Teddy 'tosspot' Sheringham and proceeded to sidestep Keane and Scholes I couldn't help but laugh. Cole was another joke, not quite so funny though for a United supported I'd imagine, I've heard of losing your touch but then again I suppose you have to have it in the first place. Every ball along the floor he seemed to be able to involuntarily flick it up to head height and have to (attempt to) go through the process of bringing it under control again. Every high ball he chested into oblivion and every shot...

“Cole and Sheringham had some fantastic chances, Cole had two or three in fact.”

despaired Sir Alex Ferguson about the second half performance, maybe even he is recognising that which we have all known about Mr Cole for years.

I was impressed with Bayerns' French full-back Willy Sangnol (great name) he kept a determined Giggs at bay for a large proportion of the game and didn't lose his head in a number of crucial situations. The center-half and Swedish international Patrik Andersson was also a huge influence on the game, his prowess in the air and strength coupled with a great positional awareness made him a key figure in the team and my man of the match. A great photo moment and surely one for the back pages today was Keane and Effenberg bumping shoulders in the first half, eyeball to eyeball ‘I'm not going to move out of your way’.

I thought though that Jeremies just shaking off and flooring his pursuer down the touchline, one Roy Keane, summed up the game. Both teams were willing to work hard and had the players that could, but Bayern wanted it just that little bit more. Maybe it was the defeat in '99, maybe it was because they still have to do a lot of work to win anything this season or maybe United picking up their seventh title in 9 years wasn't the best preparation for a European Champions Cup quarter final in which they were the underdogs.

So with Arsenal and Manchester United out of the competition it's up to Leeds to keep English reputations on the European stage. Liverpool do have a clash with Barcelona tonight which I'm considering not watching, I'll regret it if it's as dull as the last encounter, but the UEFA Cup really doesn't seem that grand anymore. Even when we were in the final last year it didn't seem all that much of an honour, I was gutted when we lost but I'd be more gutted if we lost the FA Cup final this year. We had fought quite hard, and beaten the best team in Spain along the way but there almost felt nothing to play for in the final. I personally didn't accept Galatasray even being there after the truly disgraceful behavior of their fans throughout the European season, worse group hooliganism that at Heysel but no punishment? That surely doesn't make sense.

Anyway, good luck to Leeds against Valencia, although I think their best player may have lost his inspiration now he knows he'll be around all season :)

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