It’s ironic that Manchester United had to pluck a leaf out of the Chelsea book on their way to a tepid 1-0 win over their local rivals to put one hand on the title. The match however did have its moments of drama.
First, barely a couple minutes into the game, Michael Ball, clearly looking inspired by the punching and kicking going around in the Manchester City training grounds these days, drove his studs into Cristiano Ronaldo’s stomach. Well if Ahmed suggested Martins was on coke a few weeks ago, one needs to wonder what Ball was on (High quality crystal meth anyone? How else would you picture a football where Ronaldo’s stomach was? Clear usage of hallucinogens). Anyway, lucky for him, the ref was not looking, although it remains to be seen if there would be some sort of retrospective action taken by the FA.
The next event in the game was probably a way of the forces that be to penalize Ball for being high, when, in the 32nd minute, he was rightly adjudged to have tripped Ronaldo in the box. Ronaldo scored yet another flawless penalty to set the Reds on the path to glory and take his tally to 23.
What then followed was mostly a boring second half with a few moments of nervy defending, and Ball won a penalty that should have never really been given to add some life to the contest. Edwin van der Sar proved his worth by saving Vassell’s penalty and from then the players went about their motions by holding onto the ball.
On the whole, a fairly lifeless contest which was partly expected of the jaded Manchester United team, who seemed satisfied sitting on the one goal thanks to a much assured performance from the defence (with Rio Ferdinand returning from his groin injury). City were in part to blame for not taking much of an initiative and lacked creativity, in general, to carve an opening.
Although, in theory United have not sealed the title, the smiles, celebrations and the general camaraderie shown by the players showed how much they wanted this title more than anything. Watching EVDS, Ferdinand and Heinze congratulating each other makes it a heartening scene indeed. Fergie was smiling his way during the closing moments of the game. Ronaldo in particular, probably realizes that this would be the first title of major significance in his career and he has every right to feel overjoyed by it.
Now I am egging Arsenal to win on Sunday. Imagine Fergie fielding kids against Chelsea. Wouldn’t it be wonderful?!
Michael Ball’s challenge on Cristiano Ronaldo (stamping)
Ronaldo’s penalty (City 0-1 United)
Vassell’s missed penalty