Premier League champions, UEFA Cup winners, relegation, the Copa Libertadores and violence in Manchester all feature on this week’s the good, the bad and the ugly.
Manchester United win their 10th Premier League title and their 17th overall after beating Wigan 2-0 away. Ryan Giggs is the hero as he scores the crucial second goal on his 758th appearance for the club which equals Sir Bobby Charlton’s record.
It was also good for Fulham who managed to survive despite being 5 points from safety with 3 matches to play. They won their third away match in a row at Portsmouth to escape the drop after not having won away in more than a year!
Zenit St Petersburg are the new UEFA Cup champions after defeating Scottish side Rangers 2-0 at the City of Manchester Stadium. Two Russian sides have this trophy in the past four years – will they come good in future Champions Leagues? Good too for teams that wrapped up European football for next season. Everton will play in the UEFA Cup after finishing 5th in the Premier League while Atletico Madrid will play in next season’s Champions League for the first time in 10 years after coming 4th in La Liga.
Birmingham and Reading are relegated to the Championship despite both teams scoring four goals on the final day. The Birmingham owner David Sullivan is full of sour grapes blaming former boss Steve Bruce for their demise. They join Derby County who go down with some ignominious records: the Premier League side with the lowest number of points and the worst goal difference, and also the earliest to be relegated (in March). They are the only club in a 100 years in any division of the Football League to go with only one win in a season, and they also have the worst streak without a win, 32 games – at last something to boast about!
Inter blew another chance to seal the Scudetto in Italy after drawing with Siena and with Roma winning, the title race has gone down to the wire as there is only one point between the two top sides in Italy with only one match to play. Next week’s game sees Inter play relegation-threatened Parma who sacked their manager Hector Cuper this week leaving the club in disarray before the decisive game. Inter’s city rivals, AC Milan, lost which allowed Fiorentina to move into the Champions league position, while in Spain Barcelona will have to play in the Champions League qualifiers next season after losing 2-3 at home to Mallorca despite being 2-0 up, it is clear that the Azulgrana are desperate for the season to end.
Things have gone from bad to worse for Manchester City manager Sven Goran Eriksson after his side were thrashed by Middlesbrough 8-1 and with captain Richard Dunne being sent off they may miss out on a UEFA Cup place next season via their fair play record. Manchester City fans caused a minor riot as they invaded the Riverside’s pitch to voice their anger at the team, the owner and just about anyone else that was around. 8-1 is one thing but 8-1 against Middlesbrough!
Ugly (and happy)
A bad night for Rangers turned ugly lost in the UEFA Cup final and some of their fans let the team down after clashing with police in Manchester during and after the game.
On the positive side of things: as the football season in Europe comes to a close, there’s a feel good story from the premier cup competition in South America, the Copa Libertadores. After Mexican side America came back from the dead against Flamengo and overturned a 4-2 defeat to progress to the quarter final stage, yesterday it was the turn of the other Mexican side in the competition, Atlas, to pick up a good result. Not a win, but a 2-2 draw away at the giants of the Copa, Boca, isn’t a bad start – they were beaten by the Argentinian outfit 3-0 last match in the group stages. Could a Mexican team win it for the first time?