WORLD FOOTBALL............the year in Review (1 Viewer)


Junior Member
Dec 7, 2002
Real Madrid 1 Deportivo La Coruna 2, March 6th, Santiago Bernabeu.

The past twelve months has seen a collection of classic matches. However, the following game will live long in the memory not because it was great football, or it was one of the biggest shocks, or that it had moments of individual brilliance.

No it was because Real Madrid lost.

'A trifle harsh' I hear you say. However, the match in question was no ordinary game. It was the final of the Copa Del Rey, the main domestic cup tournament in Spain and a competition that quite frankly had been treated with disdain by the Bernabeu boys in recent years.

But this was going to be their year. Why? Well if you've been living the life of a hermit these past twelve months it may have escaped your notice that 2002 was Club Blanco's centenary year and everyone was invited to the party, even if they didn't want to come.

Many were incensed by the way that Real manipulated Spain's domestic cup competition for their own ends. The Spanish football federation (RFEF) had decided to allow Madrid to stage the final even though they were still in the competition and the fact that the showpiece finale to the Spanish season is always held on neutral territory.

This was only the beginning.

The RFEF also allowed Real to move the final from the end of the season to 6th March, which marked the actual date of their 100th anniversary. Vicente Del Bosque's Madrid men were also treated to a Superbowl-type extravaganza prior to the match, highlighting the significance Real have played in football over the past 100 years.

Their opponents, Deportivo La Coruna, were ushered to one side, bit-part players in a drama that was all about Spain's biggest team. Depor relegated to just mere supporting cast members had no choice but to stand by and watch the theatrics unfold, BUT when the match was finally played, they provided the Bernabeu with a little of their own entertainment.

Javier Irureta's Depor side stunned their illustrious hosts with an opening goal from Sergio Gonzalez. They doubled their advantage on 39 minutes when Diego Tristan was left all alone in the six-yard box. They'd obviously forgotten to read the script. Meanwhile, Real were unable to rise to the occasion and although Raul reduced the deficit in the second-half, they could not find the fitting finale to their own banquet.

To make matters worse for the mighty Madrid side they came across as poor losers, unhappy that the limelight had been shifted from them: "In terms of history, the loss means little to a club that has achieved so much. It was a major disappointment to lose but not a trauma," said the club's general manager, Jorge Valdano, afterwards.

Nevertheless, all of Spain, it seemed, revelled in Real's defeat. No more so than their bitter rivals, Barcelona, whose club president Joan Gaspart told reporters: "I just wish Barcelona could have played in Depor's place. [Real Madrid's] defeat makes all Barcelona fans happy."

The last word belonged to Depor and their coach Javier Irureta: "This was a very important success for Galician football and for Deportivo La Coruna," he said. "The players and the fans will never forget this game." Neither it seems will Real Madrid, not for a very long time!

Real Madrid 1 Deportivo La Coruna 2.

(Raul 58; Sergio Gonzalez 5, Diego Tristan 38)

Real Madrid (4-2-3-1): Cesar; Michel Salgado, Hierro, Pavan (Solari 46'), Roberto Carlos; Ivan Helguera, Makelele; Figo (McManaman 84'), Zidane, Raul; Morientes (Guti 68').

Deportivo La Curuna (4-2-3-1): Molina; Scaloni, Cisar, Naybet, Romero; Mauro Silva, Sergio; Victor (Djalminha 87'), Valeron (Duscher 63'), Fran (Capdevila 84'); Diego Tristan.

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Junior Member
Dec 7, 2002
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  • Thread Starter #4
    USA 3, Portugal 2. World Cup Finals, June 5th, Suwon, South Korea.

    Identifying a classic encounter from this summer's World Cup is a taxing brief. From sixty four games you can pick average, mediocre, or merely dismal, but great matches were scant in a World Cup where shocks outstripped skill every single day.

    So perhaps the USA's victory over Portugal in Group D doesn't qualify as a true World Cup classic. It didn't - to borrow from the commentator's cliche log - have everything. The football could have been better, the game could have been tighter, the skills on show could have been more extravagant. It stands out because beyond the on-field incidents, that game in Suwon, Korea, epitomised the spirit of this summer's World Cup. A team expected to get a beating came out on top, by refusing to accept their fate. In tournaments past the USA would have meekly rolled over in front of an established European power. World Cup 2002 was different.

    The timing helped the game stick in the memory. For Europe, the predicted battering for the US coincided with breakfast. Coffee, croissants and a first half hat-trick from Figo was what most viewers had got up for. By three minutes past seven however, millions were spluttering on their espresso as Vitor Baia in the Portuguese goal flapped at a Brian McBride header and John O'Brien lashed the ball in from close range. The US could have added a second five minutes later and as they out-passed, out-tackled and out-ran their opponents.

    Europe rubbed its sleep-weary eyes and muttered that this was a temporary blip and Portugal would be leading by half time. The potential for surprises is a key part of football's charm, but a team of MLS players and European reserves wouldn't be able to keep Figo, Rui Costa, and Pauleta at bay for an hour.

    That was the belief that seemed to run through the Portuguese team as well. "USA was a difficult team to play, but I never imagined we would lose," Portugal coach Antonio Oliveria said after the game. However, as Portugal pushed forward they began to give the ball away and Landon Donovan on the right wing was giving the old Portuguese defence an uncomfortable time. On the half hour Donovan broke down the right and crossed, the ball deflected off Jorge Costa and Baia was beaten again - 2-0 to the USA.

    Two became three, when the impressive Tony Sanneh's cross was headed home by a diving Brian McBride. Portugal were getting taken apart by a team playing fast, physical football. Most importantly though, it was football without fear. When Figo walked out in Suwon he was Figo of Real Madrid - the FIFA World Player of the Year and captain of Portugal. Forty minutes later he was a peripheral figure losing 3-0.

    Even when Portugal came back into the game, first through Beto then with a spectacular own goal by Jeff Agoos, the US held firm. Occasionally they lost their composure, frequently they lost the ball, but the determination to hold onto the lead never vanished. Somewhere between their last place finish at France 98 and their debut at Japan/Korea 2002, they had stopped expecting to lose.

    It meant that one of the biggest shocks in the World Cup finals surprised no-one in the USA camp. Like Senegal, South Korea and Turkey, they simply forgot about history, prestige, expectations and vague ideas of a natural order. Six of Bruce Arena's starting eleven had never even played a World Cup finals game before, and they probably wondered what all the fuss was about. Wasn't it normal to be 3-0 up against Portugal after 30 minutes?

    The USA came of age in international football that day, with a famous and historic victory made possible by ignoring fame and history. The simple part of football is that you have ninety minutes to compete against your opponents. It's all the other stuff that makes the game complicated. Afterwards, Arena summed it up perfectly when he was asked what the difference was between his team and Portugal:
    "Obviously, we had three goals, they had two."

    USA: Friedel, Mastroeni, Sanneh, Pope (Llamosa 80), Agoos, O'Brien, Hejduk, Beasley, McBride, Donovan (Moore 75), Stewart (Jones 45).

    Portugal: Baia, Costa (Andrade 73), Couto, Beto, Jorge (Bento 69), Rui Costa (Nuno Gomes 79), Petit, Sergio Conceicao, Figo, Pauleta, Pinto.

    Attendance: 37,306


    Junior Member
    Dec 7, 2002
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  • Thread Starter #5
    Olimpia's Copa Glory
    19 Dec 2002

    A word association game for you: 2002. Glory. Centenary season. If you said Real Madrid I am willing to bet you're not Paraguayan. If you said Olimpia, you probably are. In one of the quirks of the season, Europe's most famous centurions faced their South American counterparts in the Intercontinental Cup. Real won 2-0, but Olimpia, four months Real's junior, had already had its day.

    If the two 100-year-old clubs meeting in the inter continental final was a coincidence, Olimpia's participation in the 43rd Copa Libertadores final was surely fate. The first-leg of the club's sixth final overlapped its foundation date, 25 July. The celebrations were planned to get underway after the match against Brazil's Sao Caetano, but the Paulista club's 1-0 win in Olimpia's Defensores del Chaco ground dampened any Asuncion excess.

    The second-leg, in the outskirts of Sao Paolo a week later, saw a performance worthy of a club with such a glittering past. The full weight of expectation bore down on Nery Pumpido's men in the Paulo Machado de Carvalho stadium. Olimpia, winners of 38 Paraguayan league championships; two Copa Libertadores titles (they defeated Boca 2-0 in 1979 and Ecuador's Barcelona 3-1 eleven years later); the club voted 'Rey de America' by influential Uruguayan paper El Pais in 1990, the second of three consecutive Libertadores finals appearances; and 'El Rey de Copas' by their own fans after they won the Recopa and Supercopa in a glorious early nineties, would need all of that pedigree against the Brazilian upstarts.

    Caetano had only been in the Brazilian first division for two years but were proving to be quite a force in South America. Olimpia's preparation for the second-leg had been disrupted by a poor domestic league run and the decision of their fiery president, Osvaldo Dibb, to quit the club after accusing the players of lacking commitment and courage (it turned out to be a clever psychological ploy).

    In the 32nd minute of a match that skipped along rhythmically to the lilt of Fox Sport World's garrulous Latin commentators, Ailton doubled his final tally when he scored at the near post for the Brazilians. Undeterred, Olimpia played two matches worth of football in the second-half. Midfielder Gaston Cordoba triggered the fight back with a goal four minutes after the interval, capitalizing on some neat work in the area from man-of-the-match Sergio Orteman, the Uruguayan forward. Eight minutes later another cross led to the equaliser. Henrique Silva's whipped cross was met perfectly by Paraguay forward Richart Baez, with the former Universidad de Chile man looping his header over Silvio Luiz.

    Olimpia would need more heroics after clawing back to level terms under the glare of over 32,000 baying Caetano fans. Victor Quintana was dismissed for a wild challenge on 86 minutes, forcing the visitors to hang on desperately.

    In the penalty shoot-out Olimpia was the model of composure. Julio Cesar Enciso, Orteman, Hernan Lopez and substitute Mauro Caballero connected on all four of their spot kicks while first Marlon and then Serginho skied two of Caetano's to hand a truly fitting final to a most deserving club.


    Senior Member
    Jul 12, 2002
    I agree Ian. I'll never forget that day. I have a superstition where I have to stand up for the duration of important sporting events. So, its the world cup finals and here I am, standing up as usual. I haven't slept in about 2 weeks because the games were starting at 2:30, 5 and 7 am. I just watched a horrible game before that (Russia vs. somebody or other). So here I am, after watching the US National Team for 4 years, ready to start the World Cup. We were, of course, the last team to play. We were starting the keeper I didn't want to and Clint Mathis wasn't playing.

    Anyway, the match starts and O'Brien scores right out of the box. I'm very pleseantly suprised and think now maybe we will be able to hang on for a draw. The Donavan scored that fluke goal and I'm thinking, hey maybe we can actually win. The came McBrides goal. I was stunned, I literally fell over. I just sat there on the floor until the half ended - I could not believe what I saw. Speechless wasn't the word, I was thoughless. After watching every game of the Cup, no one beside Germany had opened up a 3-0 lead. And here we were, massive underdogs, leading one of the favorites 3-0. Let me tell you, no drug or alchol can replicate that feeling.

    I'll never forget that day, or when we beat Mexico a couple weeks later. Really made for one of the best months of my life...


    Junior Member
    Dec 7, 2002
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  • Thread Starter #8
    This, in my opinion was the game of the year, a classic that can be told for generations. A match can only go back and forth this much. This is a match i will never forget. Here is what Kashif Naveed recalls.

    Bayer Lever Late

    Continuing our festive series on the great games from 2002, Kashif Naveed recalls the painful night of how Bayer Leverkusen stole Liverpool's limelight...

    My final choice brings back bittersweet memories. I have been a Liverpool supporter since I can remember. Unfortunately I am a Reds fan exiled in Manchester, the home where Liverpool's traditional rivals reside and who were both on a collision course earlier this year as they strived for European glory.

    The stage was set back in March. Journalists were huddled around the radio keenly anticipating the draw for both the quarter-finals and the semi-finals of the Champions League. Due to UEFA's insistence of messing with the romance of the cup we knew that the teams from the same nations would be kept apart in the last eight.

    Liverpool's great rivals, Manchester United, were first out of the hat and were paired with Deportivo La Coruna. A groan rang through the office, a wry smile appeared across my face. Depor had defeated Sir Alex Ferguson's men quite comfortably when they had met each other earlier in the competition.

    Liverpool were then drawn to face Bayer Leverkusen. The groans got louder, my smile wider. Leverkusen had flattered to deceive in the tournament so far suffering heavy defeats to Arsenal and Juventus en route to their meeting with the Reds. It was an easy bye wailed the United fans in the office. However, as we contemplated our respective ties, the momentous events from Geneva were not complete.

    The winner of the tie involving Liverpool and Bayer Leverkusen would play the victors from United against Deportivo in the next round. Only weeks earlier Liverpool had achieved its fifth consecutive victory over Ferguson's men. Now, United had an opportunity to avenge those defeats. Ok, we were in danger of counting our chickens perhaps, but the stakes could not be higher. Should both progress, they'd play not only for local pride but also a place in the European final - which coincidently would be held at Old Trafford, home of Manchester United.

    The first-legs only served only to whet the appetites. United won convincingly 2-0. They were there, more or less. Liverpool had also gained a pivotal foot holding in their encounter against Leverkusen, winning 1-0 at Anfield. But would it be enough?

    I assembled with my fellow Liverpool fanatics in one of Manchester's finest hostelries. We quickly congregated into our respective tribes. Manchester United followers who had become German supporters for the evening on one side and the rest on the other.

    Michael Ballack's stunning 25-yard shot gave the Germans an early advantage. All of a sudden Liverpool were in a real match. Klaus Toppmoller's Bayer side went in search for a second, but it was Liverpool who got the next goal. Abel Xavier, a defender plucked from the obscurity that is known as Everton, headed in the equaliser on the stroke of half-time. Game on.

    Liverpool came out after the break in rampant fashion. Thrice they had a good as chance as any to make it 2-1 and deliver the final knock-out blow. However, in the 64th minute Ballack once again scored to put the tie in the balance. The score was 2-2 on aggregate but Liverpool had scored the crucial away goal.

    Just three minutes later and Liverpool's away goal counted for nothing as Dimitar Berbatov struck from close range. The tie ebbed and flowed. With just 12 minutes remaining Jari Litmanen, a substitute who had been Gerard Houllier's last throw of the dice, weaved his way through the Leverkusen defence and scored. 3-2, but 3-3 overall, with Liverpool going through on the away goals.

    We jumped for joy. A silence descended among the Manchester United contingent But there was more drama to come. Leverkusen's Brazilian defender Lucio bundled his way through and scored. It was the 84th minute and the score now was 4-2. Try as they could, Houllier's men could not find another goal. They were out.

    I do a great disservice to Klaus Toppmoller and his team. They were worthy winners and went to prove their credentials by eliminating Manchester United in the semis. However, their own dreams were to end cruelly as they came runners-up in not one, not two but three major competitions.

    For my part, I slipped away quietly that night to leave the Manchester masses glorying in Leverkusen's victory. However, I could not help but draw some satisfaction. Liverpool had played a part in a memorable match. They might have lost but football was the winner.


    Junior Member
    Dec 7, 2002
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  • Thread Starter #11
    They are matches which were exciting to many but i think will be remembered more for the contraversial refereeing decisions.


    Continuing our festive series on the great games from 2002, James Ellaby tries to write a balanced account of the year's most controversial match...

    As has already been stated in this seasonal series, the 2002 World Cup was not a great tournament. There were plenty of shocks, and it was good to see the underdogs have their time in the limelight, but lacklustre performances by most of the world's top players and teams meant that it was found lacking as a spectacle.

    But that is not to say there weren't any good games, we have already included Team USA's 3-2 win over Portugal as one of the 12 Games of Christmas. For my final choice of the series, I will be writing about the one match which provided me with more work than any other this year.

    South Korea were already local heroes after they managed to progress from the first stage. As hosts they were under pressure to do so, but they style with which they beat Poland and Portugal inspired their newly-found fans, and World Cup mania was sweeping the country by the time they faced three-time world champions Italy in the second round.

    Within five minutes of the kick-off, Korean football's poster-boy Ahn Jung-Hwan had the chance to give them the lead after Christian Panucci had held back Seol Ki-hyeon in the box, and for good measure Francesco Coco had tugged Yoo Sang-chul's shirt. However, Ahn's penalty was saved by Gianluigi Buffon. Soon after, it looked like the underdogs had blown their chance at glory.

    In the 18th minute, Christian Vieri headed Italy in front, his fourth goal of the tournament. With a 1-0 lead the Italians took control of the game, and never looked like letting the home side back in. However, they reckoned without some bizarre refereeing decisions from Ecuadorean Byron Moreno, starting with his failure to send off Kim Tae-Young for a seemingly-obvious elbow on Alessandro Del Piero.

    The turning point of the match came in the 88th minute, as Italy may have thought their task was nearly completed. Hwang Sun-Hong's cross was sliced at by Panucci, and Seol Ki-Hyeon poked the ball past Buffon to send the Daejeon crowd wild. Italy were stung into action, and Vieri had a golden opportunity to win the game but couldn't manage to score with the goal gaping. An overhead kick by Cha Du-ri at the other end was well-saved by Buffon.

    The 90 minutes had provided plenty of entertainment and some controversy, but this match really came to life in extra time and Bryon Moreno was at the centre of the action. In the 103rd minute Italy thought they had a penalty kick when Francesco Totti went down in the area, and they were stunned when the referee ran over and showed the Roma midfielder his second yellow card and sent him off for diving.

    Their frustration turned to fury soon after, when Damiano Tommasi ran through and scored only to find that Moreno and his assistant had ruled him to be offside. That would have been the Golden Goal and won the game for Italy, but in the 116th minute it was South Korea who struck gold when Ahn headed home the winner, setting off incredible scenes of celebration all around the country.

    The aftermath of this game has been acrimonious to say the least. Italy left the Far East spitting out conspiracy theories and narrowly avoiding an ugly airport encounter with their least favourite referee who was on his way back to Ecuador. Ahn Jung-Hwan had become a legend in his own country, but public enemy number one in his adopted country, Italy. His club Perugia tried to sack him for his role in the Azzurri's defeat until common sense prevailed, though his time in Serie A was well and truly over.

    Moreno's refereeing abilities and integrity have been called into serious question as he was accused of match-fixing and banned by the Ecuadorean FA. Meanwhile, he was "honoured" in Sicily where plaques bearing his name were fixed to the doors of new public toilets, prompting many headlines about where his career was going.

    South Korea knocked out Spain in the quarter-finals in similarly controversial circumstances, before Germany beat them in the semi-final to end dreams of an incredible World Cup win for a team who had never even won a match in the competition before this year. Nevertheless, they had provided us with plenty of excitement and adventure in a tournament sadly lacking in both, and this game was certainly one of the best that I saw in 2002, and the fall-out from it has been almost as fun.

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