Last-minute goal

Real Madrid 3 – 2 Manchester City (18 / 09 / 2012)

Just as I was ready to finish writing about an underwhelming match I’d just watched, football showed me why I love it so much. There’s nothing quite like watching it with your mates, sunk into your chair and waiting expectantly for something, anything exciting to happen. Then three goals come in the last five minutes of a game, and you find yourself shouting at the telly, cheering and jeering depending who you support.

Madrid had hardly been in great form in La Liga, and Mancini isn’t known for his attacking mentality, especially in European competition. I’ll admit I didn’t think it would be a thriller by any stretch of the imagination. I’m glad I was proven wrong, and I’m also glad I didn’t follow through with my betting instinct.

Why did City start Nastavic ahead of Lescott? Why doesn’t Micah Richards play any more? Why does Mancini feel the need to bring off attacking players for defenders when he desperately needs goals? City only had three shots on target in the match, compared with Madrid’s twelve. I don’t know any of the answers, and if anyone else does, please enlighten me, because there don’t seem to be any reasonable answers.

Highlights of the game have to be Kolarov’s fluke of a free-kick goal, Benzema’s inch-perfect finish, the crazy dip on Ronaldo’s game-winning goal, and Mourinho’s subsequent slide across the pitch, on his knees, in a tailored Italian suit. He epitomises the passion and emotion of football for me.

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Everton 2 – 2 Newcastle (17 / 09 / 2012)

Football doesn’t need yet more evidence for goal-line technology, but here it is. I’m a huge advocate for it, it can’t come quickly enough in my eyes. No point harping on about it though; the goal wasn’t given and that’s that. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the result here didn’t matter as much. Granted, Everton will be angered by not walking away with a win after battering Newcastle in the first half, but it’s the performance tonight that means so much more.

Being notoriously slow starters, they should feel ecstatic at starting the season this well – including beating United 1 – 0 in their first game. Without wanting to wade into the quagmire of football cliché, it is a 38 game season, and dropping two points tonight means nothing compared to the tens of points they’ve dropped at the beginning of previous seasons.

For Newcastle, a draw means it’s not quite time to panic yet, but they haven’t started too well by any stretch of the imagination. They beat an out-of-sorts Tottenham 2-1, yes, but so they should have. They lost 2-0 to Chelsea, which considering the form the London club was in, it was probably a relief not to concede more. But drawing 1-1 with a Villa side that frankly look ready for the drop is not a result which shows the intent or ability to match last seasons final position. But again, it is a 38 game season. Excuses could be missing out on signing Debuchy from Lille, or the uncertainty surrounding a possible transfer of key players over summer, but these are just simply excuses, and Newcastle have to move on.

It was a good game though as a standalone feature, and one where the controversy actually made the game better rather than detracted from it. It was slowly coming to life in the second half, but the game just exploded with the non-goal and it was end-to-end from then on. Leighton Baines once again reminded people why, I think, he is the best left back in the premiership. Cap it off with two late, late goals, and what you have is one of the best games of this year so far. Roll on next week.