Tonight (Thursday) I decided to watch yet another installment of the UEFA Champions league cup matches on ESPN. The first one of the week, a 0-0 draw between Barcelona and Benfica, was mis-timed so I only caught the last 40 minutes. No big deal, as it was a highly boring match, not what I had expected for a Barcelona game. This installment, which was obviously a taped match (for reasons that will become evident) between Champions league perennials Internazionale (Inter Milan) and Spanish newcomers Villareal, was sure to be a little more exciting than the first game of the week.
Sure enough, Villareal get off to a flying start with a goal in the first minute from Forlon. This match was at Milan, so this is an ever-crucial away goal which could help Villareal in the long run. According to Champions league rules, if two teams' aggregates result in a draw, then advancement in the elimination round will be awarded to the club with the most away goals. This Villareal goal, however, was answered in the 7th minute by Inter's powerful attacker Adriano. The first half saw a couple of close shots by Inter and several spectacular saves by Villareal's goalkeeper Sebastian Viera.
I'm watching in the second half, and it's still a fairly well-contested 1-1 game. Then, my eye happens to catch the scrolling scores on the bottom of the TV screen. Now, sure I'm watching a TiVo'ed game, and sure this game is on tape delay, but instead of seeing something more about Barry Bonds or finding out that the NFL is banning dancing, I see the Inter/Villareal final score! Damn it!!
Luckily, about 10 minutes later, Inter striker Oberfemi Martins knocks home the game winner (although arguably offside). However, Villareal make it interesting with a couple of close strikes at the Inter goal.
This was a hotly contested match, and the final score could easily have gone to 5-4 in favor of either team. However, a 2-1 edge, while definitely good for Internazionale, leaves the door open for Villareal to pull a George Mason-like upset in the second leg of this round, which will be played in Villareal. Look for that one on ESPN next week. Let's just hope they don't kill the excitement.
-Christopher J. Brigham
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