Archive for April 10th, 2008

MISN – Winter Lachine 07-08 QUARTER-FINALS (vs. Kelly’s Leg)

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Ricard, unofficial sponsor of MISN Impossible

MISN? What’s this?

Hello MISN,

On Saturday April 12th we played game the QUARTER-FINALS of the Winter 2007-08 Lachine indoor league, vs. Kelly’s Leg.

Well here it was, the culmination of all our year’s efforts: PLAYOFF time. I guess it would be appropriate at a time like this, to say that MISN Impossible‘s aspirations early in the season were fairly big, and essentially included ranking top of the league standings in Division 2. Unfortunately some mid-season accidents (poor performances coupled with injury) made our team lose a few points too many, and eventually turned MISN’s league champions aspirations to dust: we finished the season in 3rd place, behind champions and runners-up Spartans.

In Lachine league however, there are two trophies handed out each year: one for the regular season, and one for playoffs. Ever since we had lost hope of winning the former, our full efforts concentrated on the latter, and the last few games of the season (the successive wins vs. Wood Gundy (5-4), Kelly’s Leg (6-2), Ericsson (3-0), and then 1st-ranked Spartans (3-2)) were a strong indicator that our team had turned it around and had what it takes to be successful.

Our opponents for today’s first round of playoffs were Kelly’s Leg, a team which had finished regular season at 6th spot of the Division 2 standings, with 78 goals scored and 63 conceded. Our two previous encounters this season saw us defeated 1-0 in the first leg, then victorious 6-2 in the second leg (a game during which we went down two goals, and came back from behind in stunning fashion). We were thus at a slight advantage based on previous match history, but for playoffs it would be anyone’s game. There was no doubt in our minds that our opponents would come at us with a lot more determination, and we had to stay vigilant!

Attendance-wise, we were still facing with some injury problems unfortunately. Kevin was out for rest of the season on account of his wrist fracture, while Santi was still recovering from damaged ligaments. In addition, some druken-state acrobatics (yes, MISN players know how to party) had caused Eric to injure his ankle pretty bad, rendering our Canadian center-back unavailable for today’s match. In addition, Marco, Can, and Alex were just recovering from a busy week of McGill Intramurals (and alas, two lost finals) while Tim was struggling with some not-fully-healed ankle problems… Not the most ideal situation.

Bottom line: we were 10 players for today, 7 starters and 3 substitutes. On the side of good news though, capitaine Tevin came back from the land of the dead (along with Kevin) and dropped by to show his support! 

1) Absent long-term: /
2) Injured long-term: Tevin, Güven, Santi, Kevin
3) N/A this week: Santi, Eric

Here was our line-up:

Jon / Marco
Can / Tim
Nafee / Saber

We started the game on a low pace, as some of us weren’t “out there” mentally (still tired from midweek efforts, or psychologically not ready). Unfortunately, our lack of awareness immediately cost us an early goal, right from the start! A Kelly’s Leg player was allowed to send in a cross-shot from the right wing, Jan came down to dive but couldn’t control the ball. On came another Kelly’s Leg player, to tackle the ball into the roof of the net. 0-1.

We had been caught with our pants down, and now were trailing early into the match. Not the most ideal situation, but we didn’t give in and immediately started working to get back. The Kelly’s Leg defenders were however keeping close guard, and our players had considerable trouble getting the shots in. Midway through the half, Can sent a long ball over the defense for Saber, who chested it and poked it on the run… right on the post! A few minutes later, Marco received the ball on the right wing, immediately crossed it to the opposite side for Bruno, who took the shot on the volley. Narrowly wide!! Oh so close…

We had a few more attempts from long range (Jon and Nafee notably), but without any luck. We weren’t giving our best, and our plays suffered: with the close marking of the Kelly’s Leg defenders, we needed to keep our passes short and open up more, in order to create space. In particular, we needed to be vigilant in defense because on a few too many opportunities, our opponents could have increased their lead, had it not been for some last-ditch defending or off-the-mark shooting. The half ended with Kelly’s Leg leading by one, and everything still left to play for in the second.

After the break, our passing game considerably improved, and by extension our scoring chances. A good pass from midfield sent Can clear on the left wing, with plenty of time & space to run at goal. Spotting Saber unmarked to the to the right, our Turkish striker fed him the ball, and all Saber had to do was control and slam a powerful shot inside the right post for the tying goal! 1-1!

The goal revamped our spirits, and we came back assaulting our opponents’ net. Nafee and Alex had a few tries from mid-range (wide or saved ), until eventually a good passing combo on the right wing sent our players in the clear, ready to put the ball across goal for Saber in front of the net! Our Algerian forward tapped the ball low below the Kelly’s Leg keeper, and put MISN in the lead for the first time! 2-1 MISN!

Unfortunately, that lead didn’t last very long. A few minutes later, a Kelly’s Leg forward controlled the ball in midfield, dribbled one of our players and sent the ball through to his team-mate. Getting on the edge of the box, the Kelly’s Leg striker armed a shot which Jan couldn’t reach, and the ball entered the goal on his left. 2-2.

So once again, we had conceded an avoidable goal and put ourselves under pressure. Unlike the first half however, during this period of play we had been dominating our opponents, and that was going to prove key in re-establishing our lead. Can had a good chance from short range (saved by the keeper), Marco attempted a one-timer from 25 yards (miles over the bar), until finally MISN went ahead again. Taking the ball on the left, and turning around to evaluate his options, Saber spotted the central run of Alex and slid him the ball. Our Greek defender waited for the ball to arrive before attempting an instep shot: the Kelly’s Leg keeper got a hand to it, but could only parry it in the path of Bardia, who then deposited the ball into the empty net. 3-2 MISN!

We were now back in lead with about 5-10 minutes to go. Kelly’s Leg started to really push forward in numbers, and our defense had to withstand the pressure. Fortunately, our opponents were never really allowed to get in a clear shot and when they did, Marco or Jon were there to get in the way.

Eventually, with the majority of their defenders pushing up, some good work by Nafee sent Tim clear on the left wing, who then waited for Can to arrive on the opposite side to slide him the ball. Easy tap-in, 4-2 MISN, and game virtually sealed. The ref called full time shortly after, sending MISN through to the semi-finals!!
.MISN Impossible 4-2 Kelly's Leg

4-2 final score

Saber (2)

Yellow cards:

A good turn-around performance boys! We started off the wrong foot in the first period, went one goal down but didn’t give up our efforts, and were eventually rewarded in the second half. We should try to keep a tighter lock on our defense however, as we always seem to concede silly goals which could be prevented.

The draw for the Semi-Final round hasn’t been made yet, but with the surprise elimination of 2nd-ranked Spartans by McKibbin’s Pub (yes, you’ve read that right!), it is very likely we will be playing the winner of Ericsson vs. FC Sorrento. Either way, it’ll be a tough match and we’ll have to keep our focus to make it to the final game!

GO MISN!!!! Two more games to the title!!


Manchester United 1-0 Roma: Sad Exit for the Giallorossi, Goalless Roma Leaves Europe (Champions League Quarter-Finals, Leg 2)

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Daniele De Rossi sends his penalty kick strike over the bar (Manchester United vs. Roma, UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finals)

Arrivederci Europe. For Roma, elimination from the UEFA Champions League at the hands of Manchester United feels a little bit like Gabriel García Márquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold: everyone knew it was going to happen, the only question was how.

In the end, one could say Roma left the competition with their heads up high: for much of the first half, the Giallorossi genuinely created chances and came quite close to opening the score on several occasions, refusing to be pushed over by their Premier League opponents who, much to the surprise of everyone, had chosen to play without their stars Rooney and Ronaldo.

At the end of the night though, the Giallorossi’s biggest regret will undoubtedly be the Daniele De Rossi missed penalty shot, which in minute 30 with the score still tied 0-0, could have re-opened the game. For Luciano Spalletti, the torture of the eternal “what if” question must have been particularly hard to bear…

Manchester United vs. AS Roma (UEFA Champions League)

Champions League Quarter-Finals - Leg 2 - Manchester Utd 1-0 Roma

Tactically, the big surprise of the night came from the Man Utd starting line-ups: Sir Alex Ferguson‘s choice to leave wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench certainly raised a few eyebrows, even with the upcoming big-match against Arsenal next week-end and quality replacements such as Carlos Tévez and Owen Hargreaves. With Nemanja Vidic out of action however, the Scottish manager made it capital to recuperate Rio Ferdinand at all costs, so the latest Capello-appointed England captain was regularly feature in the Red Devils’ backline. On the other side, no change of plans for Luciano Spalletti: Amantino Mancini was present, Juan back from injury reporting for duty in central defense, and Christian Panucci preferred over Cicinho (probably for the few extra pounds of muscle).

Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney get a turn of ‘rest’ vs. Roma (Manchester United vs. Roma, UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finals)The initial minutes of the first half were fully colored in bright red. The Manchester United jersey colour genuinely gave the inspiration that at times, its players were turning into full-blown high-octane sportscars: fast, agile, and with mad acceleration features. The biggest “Ferrari-impersonators” in this portion of the match were Ryan Giggs, Owen Hargreaves, and Jin Sun Park, absolutely devastating with their passing combination and runs forward, ready to inspire an even more ebullient Carlos Tévez. Roma’s keeper Doni had a lot of work to do in the first fraction, avoiding danger on Hargreaves and Giggs, and parrying strikes by Park and Anderson.

It almost seemed for a moment, as if the match was turning into the 7-1 debacle of last year… for Roma this was unacceptable. Around the 20-25 minute mark, the Giallorossi armed the offensive and began to stick their heads out the hole. Mirko Vucinic really started to embody his ‘vice-Totti’ role, continuously provoking the United backline with his dribbles, and eventually his work started opening up space for Roma. Enough space in minute 29, for Mancini to get by on the left wing and be upended by Wes Brown inside the United box. Ferguson complained [after the match] this was no foul, but in all honesty Brown touched the foot of his opponent at the same time as the ball: a penalty every day of the week.

De Rossi can’t believe it… (Manchester United vs. Roma, UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finals)For Roma this was the opportunity to really push United to the ropes, as a 2-1 aggregate score would have forced Ferguson to take this match seriously, and bring out his star players. Alas for the Giallorossi (and fortunately for the Red Devils), fate had other plans. Daniele De Rossi stepped up to take the spot-shot, and it immediately became obvious that nervousness was dominating the Azzurri midfielder: with over 60,000 spectactors booing, I defy anyone to stay calm under the circumstances. Now, De Rossi is usually someone with a very specific penalty-taking technique: top corner, no questions asked. In this case however, nerves cracked and De Rossi’s kick was miles over the bar.Baggio circa 1994” to quote our friend RomaChris

The half thus ended 0-0, with Roma (and De Rossi in particular) fighting on every ball, enraged with the bad luck of their missed P.K. chance. The match had officially “woken up”, not only Roma but also Manchester United, who openly accepted their opponents’ challenge of ‘let’s play this out’. In the second half things continued unchanged, but with Roma really pushing forward, trying, believing. Vucinic armed his shot from the distance, Van der Sar showed why his long-range shot-stopping skills aren’t the best, Juan and Taddei tried their luck with some headers, wide.

Carlos Tevez’s diving header puts United in the lead and 3-0 on aggregate (Manchester United vs. Roma, UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finals)In minute 68, Spalletti decided to trade Pizarro for the speed of Ludovic Giuly, or in other words: time to throw everything out in the mix. Unfortunately 2 minutes later, Manchester United put the final nail in the Roma coffin: Hargreaves crossed the ball from the right, finding Carlos Tévez in front of goal, and the Argentine striker executed a spectacular short-range diving header that left Doni no chance. 1-0 Man Utd, 3-0 on aggregate, game over.

The remaining minutes were pure administration for Manchester, and worth mentioning only for the return appearance of their captain Gary Neville, back to full fitness after a long injury spell. The score however, did not change, and the match came to a close to bring Man Utd into the Semi-Finals; they will be facing Barcelona, victors 1-0 (2-0 aggregate) over Schalke 04. For Roma all that remains is the Scudetto race, another contest for which a ‘come-from-behind’ tale will be necessary.

Daniele De Rossi (left) is consoled by Philippe Mexès (Manchester United vs. Roma, UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finals)


Manchester United F.C.
[Match Highlights]
A.S. Roma
GOALSCORERS: 70’ Tevez (M).
MANCHESTER UNITED (4-2-3-1): Van der Sar – Brown, Piqué, R.Ferdinand, Silvestre – Carrick (73’ O’Shea), Hargreaves – J.S.Park, Anderson (81’ G.Neville), Giggs (73’.Rooney) – Tevez. (bench: Kuszczak, Welbeck, Scholes, C.Ronaldo). Coach: Ferguson.
ROMA (4-2-3-1): Doni – Panucci, Mexès, Juan, Cassetti (56’ Tonetto) – De Rossi, D.Pizarro (68’ Giuly) – Taddei (81’ F.Esposito), Perrotta, Mancini – Vucinic. (bench: Curci, Cicinho, Brighi, Aquilani). Coach: Spalletti.