Friday, May 12, 2006

Boro Bested

We've had a soccer news blackout here at a pretty move for the last 36 hours or so, because all three of us were waiting for our schedules to mesh so we could watch the UEFA Cup championship tonight on tape. It was a grueling and dodgy 36 hours, but I'm glad that we didn't know the ghastly result of seeing Middlesbrough pummelled by the divey lads from Sevilla. Granted, Sevilla did play better, and really commanded the pace of the game for most of it. In the early stages of the game Boro really could've taken control, but they never seemed to coalesce, they never seemed comfortable, unable to break free of their jitters. They played more like the Premiership Boro than the European underdog contenders that they'd been in the tournament thus far. I had high hopes that Maccarone would turn things around in the second half, and really break free from the stalemate that was preventing them from doing anything productive on the wing. But it wasn't meant to be. Especially after Sevilla made that second goal. Can't say we, especially Lisa, were much impressed with midfielder Stewart Downing, named to the England World Cup squad, and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Mark Viduka never quite seemed part of the game. Viduka had two wasted opportunities on goal which I'm sure he'll be living with for a while, at least until he blows a few more opportunities at the World Cup for Australia.

Boro's defense shut down countless times, leaving keeper Mark Schwarzer (also on the Australian World Cup squad) to fight Sevilla's intrepid attacks. There were a few seconds when I thought Boro could turn things around, even when they were down 0-2, because they had proven in the last two rounds of the UEFA Cup that they could conjure miracles. But perhaps the devil's bargain that they'd agreed to caught up with them in the end, and their barren trophy case will collect dust for at least another season. But considering Boro's history, perhaps for a lot longer.

The only saving grace from watching the taped telecast from FSC was the nervous wreck of a Sevilla fan who even after one goal seemed shaken and stirred with angst and only allowed the euphoria of his team's victory to sweep him away when they got the third goal. By the end of the match, he had relaxed and seemed to believe that his Andalusian lads had, for the first time, managed to take a European trophy. If I ever encounter him in the streets of Sevilla, I owe him a glass of Manzanilla for making the defeat bearable.

Full match report here.

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