Squarefootball Diary - Ronal-D'Oh!

Squarefootball Diary - Wednesday April 23 2004

A rare blunder from Cristiano Ronaldo ensures that honours are even after Manchster United’s Champions League semi-final first leg at Barcelona.

A rather dull encounter ends goalless, but it could have been so different had the posturing Portuguese not squandered and early spot-kick. Ronaldo’s header is blocked by the hand of Gabriel Milito after less than two minutes, but the winking winger contrives to expertly place his spot-kick wide of Victor Valdes’ goal.

Ronaldo’s reputation precedes him soon after, when referee Massimo Busacca refuses to point to the spot despite what looks a blatant check by Rafael Marquez. Thereafter the home side enjoy large amounts of possession without creating very much of anything. Thierry Henry is introduced late and injects a little more urgency in his team-mates, but it is United who start the second leg as slight favourites despite their inability to score an away goal. All of which is confirmed by Sralex afterwards;

“They didn't make a lot of chances. Going to Old Trafford at 0-0 we have a marvellous chance.” he points out;

“On the negative side we should have done better with possession. We had opportunities to counter-attack but gave the ball away too easily.” he adds, ever the perfectionist.

“The penalty miss was a decisive moment for us.” suggests the man apparently still in charge at the Nou Camp, Frank Rijkaard;

“It was a bit of a wake-up call and after that we played well. It was a very tactical game, Manchester played well on the counter-attack but we did not give them any chances and they know we are capable of scoring at Old Trafford.” he warns.

Off the field Arsenal will be without Alex Hleb for the remainder of their pointless, let’s all go to the beach season. The Belarusian picks up a three-game ban for slapping Match Of The Day 2 pundit Graeme Murty during the Gunners’ 2-0 win over Reading on Saturday (April 19);

“Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb has admitted a charge of violent conduct and will serve a three-match suspension with immediate effect.” reads an FA statement, marking perhaps the first time ever that an Arsenal player has admitted to any wrong-doing during the Wenger years;

“The incident was not seen by referee Peter Walton.” continues the statement, to nobody’s surprise.

By Stephen Orford

24 April 2008