Paul Oberjuerge header image 2

Seeing Chelsea Ousted … at 6 in the Morning

March 11th, 2015 · No Comments · Brazil 2014, Football, Paris, soccer, UAE

The biggest sports competition in Europe is not the various soccer leagues, nor any of the tournaments within those leagues.

It is the European Champions League. The competition that brings together the best clubs in the continent.

Which I try to watch when I am particularly interested in a match.

The trouble? This time of year, the matches begin at 11:45 p.m., in the UAE, which is past my bedtime. And they could end as late as 2:30 a.m., which is way past my bedtime.

So, my not-quite-planned way to see the matches?

Fall asleep whenever, and when I wake in the middle of the night, check my watch, see if it is no later than, like, 5 a.m., and turn on the TV.

Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based news channel, has the right to European Champions League games, under their beIN Sports subsidiary, and they tend to show a replay of each game right after the live version finishes.

So, at 5 a.m., I picked up the second (decisive) leg of England’s Chelsea against France’s Paris Saint-Germain. It was the 60th minute, actually, and no goals had been scored … so I turned the sound way down and sprawled on the couch to watch the finish.

The first leg, in Paris last month, ended 1-1. Giving Chelsea a slight advantage in Leg 2, with the one “away” goal to their credit. The team that scores more “away” goals is the first tiebreaker in the two-leg pairing, after aggregate score.

So, 0-0 in the 60th minute of the second game, in London … good for Chelsea. Good for me. I could see the conclusion over the next 40 minutes, perhaps.

Chelsea defender Gary Cahill scored in the 81st minute, and Chelsea was nine minutes from the quarterfinals and I was nine minutes from going to bed, but David Luiz headed one in for PSG in the 86th minute, and to extra time we went.

At 2-2 on aggregate, and 1-1 in away goals, a shootout would come if the additional 30 minutes were scoreless, but that possibility went out the window when Eden Hazard converted a penalty kick for Chelsea.

This was getting interesting, as I watched the flickering images in the dark. So interesting that my ruminations about “where is Zlatan Ibrahimovic?” for PSG led me to “he must be hurt or suspended”.

PSG’s other Brazilian central defender, Thiago Silva, scored in the 116th minute, on a looping header just over the towering goalkeeper Thibault Courtois, the man in goal for The Shot Landon Donovan Should Have Taken in the U.S. loss to Belgium in the World Cup last year.

(It was poor Chris Wondolowski who skied a pointblank chance over the bar.)

Chelsea didn’t come close to scoring in the final minutes, and PSG had won on the basis of a 2-1 advantage in away goals.

Not until the morning did I find out that PSG had been playing with 10 men since the first half, when Ibrahimovic had been sent off. It wasn’t merely soccer lameness, on my part. Wayne Rooney, the England captain, tweeted that PSG’s second half with 10 men was the best he had seen.

And the timing worked out perfectly. I was back in bed two minutes after the replay was over, and I was up to speed on what was the biggest story in the UAE, at the moment.

Maybe I was lucky. Maybe some internal sports alarm clock had woken me in time to see the key hour of the round’s most interesting pairing.


0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment