Chelsea win 10-8 on aggregate.
We came, we saw, and we conquered—well, just about. A game that was cracking open due to the heat saw a second-half deluge of goals and injuries that almost cost the Chelsea team its hefty first-leg advantage. Another 10 minutes and that might have got more than uncomfortable. Instead, the Vancouver Champions League trophy is back in pride of place on Gerry’s mantelpiece.
There was no clue in the first half as to what lay ahead. Neither side any available subs, so on a warm afternoon neither went hell for leather in the opening exchanges. In fact, the Liverpool team, with a new and much stronger midfield, shaded the first 20 minutes until a delightful piece of interplay between Chris and Mike resulted in the Blues picking the Scousers’ pockets (insert own robbery joke here) to go one up. When a second soon followed, it looked game over, but then picked up a knock on his calf and Sunny pulled a muscle, leaving the door ajar for the opposition. Their key central midfielder burst through just before half-time to give them hope with a great strike onto the top-left corner.
Gerry’s half-time talk thankfully did not see any teacups thrown around; just an emphasis on closing the space between the defence and midfield. When Chris waltzed through half the red team from the halfway line to score a magnificent goal, normal service had resumed. A fourth by Ian after being set free by Mike and Chris looked like it was time to relax. But suddenly the wheels came off. Alastair, who had pulled off many great saves, had to leave. Chris’s injury reduced him to walking pace. Jeffrey hurt his knee (and not from a foul throw-in!) and had to go off, leaving gaps for Liverpool to pour through.
Johann had the luckless task of filling in goal when everything the Reds hit went in: a funny bounce here, a deflection there, a soft penalty as well. The Chelsea team left at the whistle winners on aggregate, but only just. Man-of-the-match for this summariser was David in midfield, by a distance. Chris provided the glitter, but David was indefatigable and a class act in the middle.
The series will resume next season. In the meantime, two requests. If anyone hears of other supporters’ clubs in Vancouver with teams, please let Gerry or Mat know so we might play them as well. Ste and the Scousers would be keen to join in as well. And it is a shame that with such a deep pool of playing talent on the Chelsea club books we struggled again to get 11 players out. So please try to make the time to play next spring/summer – these are fun games, and you never know what scouts might be watching… J