Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Iniesta breaks Chelsea hearts, sends Barcelona through

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Barcelona snatched a place in the Champions League final, and left Chelsea players furious, when a last-gasp goal from Andres Iniesta earned them a 1-1 draw in their semi-final second leg and victory on away goals.

Barcelona will play holders Manchester United in the Rome final on May 27 after a stunning reversal of fortunes in the semi-final second leg.

But are Chelsea right to complain that bad refereeing cost them victory?

The Londoners might have had four penalties — one for a foul on Malouda that looked inside the box, one for a tug on Drogba’s shirt, a third for Pique’s handball and finally another handball from Eto’o, charging down a fierce shot from Michael Ballack.

We’re left with the final most neutrals would probably have wished for … but Barcelona needed every ounce of their self-belief, and no little luck, to take their place in it.

The Real Madrid Presidential Candidacy ‘Promisometer’

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The campaign to be the next president of Real Madrid Football Club has finally kicked into gear with the claim from the little known Eduardo Garcia that, if elected on June 14, he will bring with him the Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.

Promising big-name signings has long been an easy way for candidates to drum up support for the presidency at Real and Barcelona, the two member-owned Spanish clubs, but ever since Florentino Perez came from nowhere to take the 2000 election what was once an entertaining sideshow has become the key battleground.

Ruthless United through to Champions League final

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A couple of early thoughts on Manchester United’s ruthless demonstration of superiority against Arsenal tonight (click here for the full match report).

1. United are over that little blip they had against Liverpool and Fulham and look to be timing their run-in to perfection. They have no significant injuries, Cristiano Ronaldo seems to be getting his mojo back and, as they showed once again against Arsenal, they ooze class right the way through the team.

The sort of result that wins titles: Middlesbrough 0 United 2

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In Spain, you often hear players and coaches talking about “the sort of match that decides title races”. More often that not they’re talking about the tricky away game against awkward opposition rather than a high profile match against direct rivals.

Manchester United’s 2-0 win away to Middlesbrough on Saturday was just that sort of game, and just the sort of performance that will leave their rivals utterly deflated.

Will United live to regret missed chances?

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Arsenal played poorly at Manchester United on Wednesday but escaped with a 1-0 defeat that leaves them still in with a chance of reaching the Champions League final.When you consider that they haven’t conceded a goal at home in the competition all season, the situation doesn’t look half bad. After all, they have already beaten United in north London this season and there is no reason why they can’t do it again.First though, their big performers need to turn up, because they went missing at Old Trafford. Theo Walcott barely got a kick, Emmanuel Adebayor was subdued and Cesc Fabregas was overwhelmed in midfield.It will also help if Robin van Persie is fit after missing the first leg. Without the Dutchman, and the ineligible Andrey Arshavin, they looked lightweight in attack.United were not at their best either and will be frustrated at not putting the tie to bed. However, they did not allow Arsenal an away goal and so will start clear favourites to reach Rome and a possible re-match with Chelsea.Remember, they were in far worse shape after drawing 2-2 at home with Porto in the quarter-final, first leg. And with such a plethora of attacking options, Alex Fergsuon’s side will be confident of breaching Arsenal’s Emirates fortress.PHOTO: Manchester United’s John O’Shea (C) celebrates with Darren Fletcher (L) and Rio Ferdinand (R) after scoring during their Champions League semi-final, first leg against Arsenal at Old Trafford, April 29, 2009. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

John Terry in a West Ham shirt is just gonna look wrong!

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PHOTO: We are half-used to seeing former Hammer Frank Lampard in a West Ham shirt (see this Ian Hodgson pic from 1998) but John Terry?

That shirt? Well yes it suits you sir, but looks a little strange ….!

 There are certain things you simply don’t expect to see in football like John Terry in a West Ham shirt or … and this one is for older fans …. Alfredo Di Stefano in Barcelona’s red and blue rather than the all-white of Real Madrid.

Barcelona frustration at textbook Chelsea display

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Chelsea will feel they are within touching distance of the Champions League final after holding Barcelona to a goalless draw a the Nou Camp in the first leg of their semi-final.

The Chelsea performance oozed professionalism, with Guus Hiddink’s players showing terrific resilience to leave Barca coach Pep Guardiola bemoaning Chelsea tactics and the performance of the referee.

Special nights needed after Champions League overload

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I’m not exactly sure why, but I’m not as excited as I should be given it’s the Champions League semi-final first legs this week.

Both ties should be making my mouth water. Manchester United v Arsenal is always a decent game in the Premier League and with Alex Ferguson’s men still wearily battling for the domestic title, Arsene Wenger’s boys have the perfect opportunity to spring a surprise.

Another 4-4 draw for Liverpool, another trophy chance gone?

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4-4 is the sort of scoreline that delights neutrals, TV companies and marketing executives but it‘s not one that Liverpool fans will remember with any fondness.

A point from Tuesday night’s draw with Arsenal at Anfield was enough to take Liverpool top of the Premier League table on goal difference from Manchester United, but seeing as Alex Ferguson’s side have two games in hand it’s hard to see the title ending up anywhere but at Old Trafford.

Everton’s heart deserving of final reward

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There is not much romantic about Everton’s current lineup, especially now they are operating without injured Spaniard Mikel Arteta, but the unceasingly honest boys in blue certainly injected some desperately-needed colour to this season’s FA Cup with their penalty-shootout win over Manchester United on Sunday.

Yes it was an awful semi-final, with neither team really testing the opposing goalkeeper, but at least Everton, and their fans, took it seriously.

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