Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Everton to face Chelsea after Howard heroics see off United

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So, it will be an all-Blue FA Cup final this year, after Everton set up a date with Chelsea thanks to the penalty shoot-out heroics of goalkeeper Tim Howard in the semi-final against Manchester United.

Howard, a former United keeper, you may remember, saved the first two penalties from Dimitar Berbatov and Rio Ferdinand and Everton didn’t look back.

I suppose people may criticise Alex Ferguson for his gamble in picking so many youngsters but it was perfectly understandable, given the (more important) games United have coming up.

In any case, let’s concentrate on the achievement of David Moyes in taking Everton through to a major final with a squad built for a fraction of the money spent by Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and the rest.

Liverpool nearly pull it off — twice

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What a game.

Liverpool, 3-1 down from the first leg in their Champions League quarter-final clash, went 2-0 up at Stamford Bridge only for Chelsea to surge back in the second half and make it 3-2.

Two late goals from the Reds made it an amazing finish but Guus Hiddink’s side scored again and it finished 4-4 (7-5 on aggregate.) 

Can United and Villarreal improve for Champions League?

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Manchester United and Villarreal must find some misplaced form to get the away results they need in Wednesday’s Champions League second legs.

United, who visit Porto, have not looked like European and English champions recently and have a lot to do to reach the last four after last week’s disappointing 2-2 draw with the Portuguese side at Old Trafford.

Majestic Barcelona leave Bayern speechless

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“Perhaps if they only bring eight men to Munich then we have a chance.”

Bayern’s Mark van Bommel, a former Barcelona player, was brutally honest after Barca’s 4-0 win in the Champions League quarter-final first leg at the Nou Camp.

Can Shearer save Newcastle?

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It sounds like an April Fool’s joke but apparently it’s true: Alan Shearer looks set to be confirmed as caretaker manager of Newcastle United until the end of the season.

Now, Newcastle could certainly do with a touch of inspiration as they bid to preserve the top flight status they have held since winning promotion back to the top tier in 1993.

Champions League draw — your views

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So, here we go again. For the fifth successive season, Liverpool will face Chelsea in the Champions League.

Quarter-finals:

Villarreal v Arsenal

Manchester United v Porto

Liverpool v Chelsea

Barcelona v Bayern Munich

Semi-finals:

Manchester United or Porto v Villarreal or Arsenal

Barcelona or Bayern Munich v Liverpool or Chelsea

Liverpool will perhaps be marginal favourites in the all-English quarter-final after knocking Chelsea out at the semi-final stage in 2005 and 2007 but their fans will need no reminding that last season, when Chelsea got to play the second leg at home, it was the Londoners who came through.

Nothing’s gonna stop United … just look at the fixture list

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My colleague Patrick Johnston has been wondering aloud about the effect a 4-1 defeat by Liverpool is going to have on Manchester United. He’s in good company, because Guus Hiddink also believes the door is open a little bit.

The match must have been enjoyable for Liverpool fans but it’s not going to have an effect on the title race.

Even Mourinho can’t halt Serie A decline as England dominates

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The sight of Serie A sides flopping in the Champions League has become a familiar one and although the three teams eliminated this week were a little unlucky, a mental block against English opposition is developing.

Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho, who won the trophy with Porto in 2004, was hired in June largely to boost their hopes of challenging Europe’s elite after years of failure.

Premier League deja vu creeping in again

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As Dimitar Berbatov sluggishly rolled in Manchester United’s winner at Newcastle United on Wednesday it suddenly occurred to me that the Premier League season that threatened a different story is heading for a very familiar ending.

At the top, the midweek matches saw United record their 11th consecutive league win and strengthen their grasp on the title, while Chelsea and Liverpool consolidated Champions League spots and Arsenal made up ground on an Aston Villa side which might just be running out of steam.

So are we set for another all-English Champions League final?

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There’s still a long way to go to the final in Rome but from what we saw over the first legs of the opening knock-out round of the Champions League a lot of people will be expecting another all-English affair at the Olympic Stadium.

If you take Mark’s dad as an authority, and I’m sure he knows as much as anyone, serie A sides are unlikely still to be challenging but is there anyone else capable of preventing another Premier League tour match?

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