Posted: 5/21/2008


          George Frideric Handel wrote Zadock The Priest for the coronation of King George II in 1727, and it has been played in every royal coronation since, when the monarch is annointed. He never realised that THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE would honour him with choosing his music for their anthem that you have heard so many, many times.

       Well, about 2.00am local time in the Luziniki Stadium, well after Midnight in MoscowSir Alex Ferguson and his Red Band of Brothers were annointed as Champions after an exciting series of Russian Roulette penalty kicks over the Blues of Chelsea with Edwin Van der Sar proving to be the hero as he saved from Nicholas Anelka. It was the 11th win for an English club-5 for Liverpool, 3 for United, 2 for Nottingham Forest and one for Aston Villa with England captain Rio Ferdinand joining wth Welshman Ryan Giggs to receive the trophy from the hands of UEFA President Michel Platini. It was fitting that Sir Bobby Charlton was first on the podium to receive the UEFA PLAQUE, but refused to accept a winners medal that Platini tried to hang around his neck.  In 1968 he scored twice in their first win at Wembley over Benfica, ten years after Munich. Nine years ago we had the exciting come from behind victory over Bayern Munich in the Nou Camp- and would you believe it, today is George Best's birthday!

   It was a much more open game than many expected. After the opening goal from Wes Brown's cross to the head of Cristiano Ronaldo it looked as if they might break away and score many more. Credit to Chelsea who came back to equalize in the last minute of the first half and made a very entertaining game of it. It got a little nasty in the latter stages of overtime with Didier Drogba getting a red card from Slovak referee Lubos Mikel (in my opinion the world's best)and probably his last unhappy game for the London club, and then the drama and lottery of the penalty kicks. With Ronaldo failing to score it looked to be Chelsea's cup to lose and that they did with first John Terry's miss on the 5th Chelsea kick as he slipped on the wet turf and hit the outside of the post, and then Van der Sar's save from Anelka.

    To my eyes Ferguson has looked very relaxed this season, with a team that he believed in-a team that can defend both the Premier League title,and Champions League in Rome next May. Ryan Giggs passed Sir Bobby's total of games for the club and one wonders why they have only won three times. It will a red night in Red Square after the United fans are finally let out of the stadium to celebrate in the Russian capital.