Squarefootball Diary; Riise Rickitt; Rafa - It's Just Not Cricket; Robins Relegated

Squarefootball Diary - Tuesday April 22 2008

John Arne Riise’s catastrophic late contribution gives Chelsea the edge following the first leg of the Champions League semi-final at Anfield.

Liverpool take the lead two minutes before the break through good-engined cart-horse Dirk Kuyt. The Dutchman capitalises on some comedy defending from Frank Lampard and Claude Makelele before drilling a shot between Petr Cech’s legs.

In a game of few chances and little excitement the Reds look well on course for a first leg lead and a home clean sheet before Salomon Kalou’s cross is headed into his own net by Riise. In fairness the Norwegian receives little help from three defenders stood directly in front of Kalou and the static, possibly awe-struck Pepe Reina in goal.

For all of that, Rafa looks for someone other than his players to blame;

“I was very disappointed with the referee.” he says of Austrian whistle-blower Konrad Plautz;

“He gave just one minute of injury time in the first period and four in the second. It was hard to understand.” complains the Spaniard;

“We have conceded a lot of late goals this season so it was good to see one go in our favour.” retorts Chelsea boss Avram Grant half-interestingly;

“I felt we deserved it.” he adds;

“There could have been a couple of penalties for us and we controlled the game until Liverpool scored.” he concludes, as if Kuyt’s goal was nothing more than a pesky fly in the ointment.

It’s a sad night for Wrexham as they are relegated out of the Football League for the first time in 87 years. Brian Little’s side are condemned by their 2-0 loss at Hereford United, where goals from Gary Hooper and Theo Robinson keep the home side in an automatic promotion slot;

“Tonight is about hitting the bottom and it's now about looking at the club in the future.” explains Little;

“I know I can't be nice to too many people at this moment. My job is to be ruthless and sort the team out.”

Cardiff City can now concentrate fully on the FA Cup final after their Championship play-off hopes are ended at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Mick McCarthy’s side still have a squeak at reaching the end of season lottery after Andy Keogh, Sylvain Ebanks-Blake and Michael Kightly secure a 3-0 win;

“We could win both our games and still not get into the play-offs.” admits McCarthy, as Wolves sit one place and two-points below the water mark;

“But it's there for someone to throw it away, it's happened before and it could happen again.” adds the former Republic Of Ireland manager optimistically.

Swindon Town win 1-0 at Bristol Rovers in League One, but neither side will be moving up or down a division in 2007/08.

By Stephen Orford

24 April 2008