Getafe get gutsy in gruelling game

April 11, 2008

Toni scores the winner

Despite seeing literally hundreds of games over the course of a season, there is the occasional match you know will stick with you forever and Thursday’s UEFA Cup quarter-final between Getafe and Bayern Munich was one of them.

It was the second Spanish-German clash I’d been to this week, having gone to the Nou Camp for the Barcelona-Schalke Champions League match the night before, but in terms of pure emotion and excitement there was absolutely no comparison. No excuses for resorting to an overused cliché because this time it is no exaggeration – this one was a real rollercoaster of a Cup tie.

From the first whistle to the last it was non-stop action and as a journalist it was one of those games where you feel like telephoning in your resignation at halftime because you don’t want to miss any of it while typing your match report which, by the way, I had to rewrite about five times.

There was something in the air that made you know it was going to be a classic and when Bayern had a goal ruled out for offside in the first minute my feelings were confirmed. Getafe had their top player Ruben de la Red sent off after six minutes and lost their most dangerous striker Ikechukwu Uche before the 20th.

But the setbacks and the deafening support of the 16,000 fans crammed into the Coliseum only served to inspire them. Cosmin Contra, the hero of the first leg with his last-minute equaliser and a veteran of Alaves’s fairytale run to the UEFA Cup final in 2001, struck a brilliant solo goal to give Getafe a deserved lead just before halftime.

But I knew it wasn’t going to be a simple giantkilling win when Getafe substitute Braulio sped clear midway through the second half, rounded Oliver Kahn and then slipped over as he was preparing to slot the ball into the empty net. True enough, in practically their only attack of the second half, Bayern equalised with just over a minute to go.

Usually you expect the smaller side to hang on for grim death in extra time and eventually fold against their more illustrious opponents or hope for penalties. But Getafe might just have been listening to my colleague Mark Elkington, who was sitting beside me commenting: “Oh dear, you don’t want to go for penalties against the Germans.”

Two quickfire goals from Javi Casquero and Braulio sent the crowd into delirium and Getafe on the way to a famous victory…except of course the dream never came true.

With five minutes to go Luca Toni pulled one back after Getafe goalkeeper Pato Abbondanzieri fumbled a simple cross and rolled it into his path.

As the crowd nervously began the countdown to the final whistle, Bayern keeper Oliver Kahn charged up into the opposition area and eventually Toni headed in. Total silence… even the Bayern fans seemed stunned.

Seconds later it was over and it was heartening to see the first reaction of many Bayern players was to go and console their opponents. Martin Demichelis put his arm round Argentine colleague Abbondanzieri, Kahn did the same. It was obvious Getafe had won the respect and admiration of the four-times European champions.

“I’ve played 140 games in the European Cup. I’ve played everywhere – Madrid, Milan, London and Barcelona – but tonight has been incredible. I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Kahn said. That comes from someone who played in the 1999 Champions League final against Manchester United remember.

“Getafe fought like madmen for 120 minutes and in these circumstances it is difficult to perform. We are obviously delighted but you have to feel for them.”

Getafe now pick themselves up for a league match at home to Real Zaragoza on Sunday and then take on Valencia in their second consecutive King’s Cup final next Wednesday.

When I went down to the mixed zone to talk to the players I had little doubt this team will be back to fight another day. With his eyes still red with tears, club captain David Belenguer made his way out of the dressing room and patiently talked to all the waiting reporters til well after 1am.

How can Getafe bounce back from this we asked? “Don’t worry,” he said. “We already have.”

Simon Baskett

PHOTO: Bayern Munich’s Luca Toni heads the winner against Getafe in the UEFA Cup quater-final second leg. April 10 REUTERS/Felix Ausin Ordonez

4 comments

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I can’t agree more with what Simon has said. It is a game that will live long in the memory.
The way Getafe played deserves note. It wasn’t pile forward, heart-on-the-sleeve stuff. Once they had recovered from the shock of losing Real Madrid youth team player De la Red, they wrested control of the ball back from Bayern and ran their socks off with pass and move football. At times you had to remember one side only had ten men.
Contra’s goal was boys own stuff, running from the halfway line, dodging between two players and firing high into the net.
After Bayern’s equaliser you thought that was it, but Getafe amazingly went on the attack at the start of extra-time. Even when 3-1 up they regularly broke forward with three men on counter-attacks.
I was bombarded with texts from friends who knew I was at the game – none of them would class themselves as Getafe fans – knowing I was witnessing something special. Two came from people who have never texted me before.
I know it’s only a game and all that, but it was a truly uplifting sight to watch the commitmemt of the Getafe players. People raved about the Liverpool v Arsenal Champions League match which was magnificent, but this was different.
Getafe don’t have the money of these mega-clubs but have reached consecutive King’s Cup finals and were agonisingly close to a major upset against Bayern.
Their attack-minded brand of football, and careful nurturing of team spirit is paying dividends and I sincerely hope they can continue to light the way forward for the small/medium sized clubs in Europen football.

Posted by Mark Elkington | Report as abusive

full credit to both sides for showing a ton of guts in this match. Brilliant stuff.
I am happy Bayern won but Getafe has nothing to be embarrassed about. They played like champions.

It only pains me that Bayern isn’t in the CL…next year. :)

Posted by papa bear | Report as abusive

Typical of me to bring a dose of negativity to the proceedings….but what bothers me is that you just know that Laudrup will end up at another club next season. That would be a shame as Getafe deserve the chance to build upon this season, yet time and again they have to rebuild at the start of every campaign. The astonishing thing is that they manage to do it, not just with a new coach, but deprived of their best players every year as well. Now it looks as if Madrid want Granero and Ruben De La Red back. Shame.

On an even darket note – I am alone in being very dissappointed with Luca Toni’s celebration after the goal? Total lack of class.

Told you I was a little ray of sunshine.

I agree entirely that Toni’s celebration was horrible. You couldn’t help but contrast that with Demichelis coming over and doing his best to console Pato. Now that was classy.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive