Unexpected, but what a pleasure. Sitting outside Entrance X waiting for my friend Andrew Shaw to show up at City of Manchester Stadium, a pretty girl approached with an offer of free beers.
Briony Edwards, and her fiance Michael and friends found out that you can't take alcohol into a UEFA match and had some to spare. They were on a nine match soccer vacation which had included Arsenal v Fulham, West Ham United v Manchester City, Liverpool v Sunderland, Blackburn v Everton, Man Utd v Internazionale, Man City v Aalborg tonight then Man Utd v Liverpool, and Aston Villa v Spurs, Fulham v Man Utd.
We got chatting and I asked where was home. "Sydney NSW", "Where abouts, I know Sydney a bit.", I replied. Picnic Point was the reply. "Oh I have friends there on Henry Lawson Drive, The Spitz Family". "Wow, we live there as well".
On November 14th this year the couple will be married at the Kirribilli Club in North Sydney. All invited, but bring a nice present, and your swimmies, 'cos it will be hot in the Aussie summer.
So to the match in hand, the last 16 first leg of the UEFA CUP. Manchester City, the world's richest club, had entered at the preliminary stages and my friend had been to most of the matches, home and away in Faroe Islands, Cyprus, Copenhagen, Holland and elsewhere. Thomas Cook Airlines are the shirt sponsors, but next season Etihad, the national airline of United Arab Emirates is expected to take over. New chairman of City is 33 year old Khaldoon Al Mubarek, educated at Tufts University in Boston,MA.
One of the car parks was out of use, while the Midde Eastern owners decide to expand the offices, hire more staff and make City a global brand. Well, City folk are mostly home grown within 10 miles of the stadium, unlike that other lot across town at the Theatre of Dreams. AaB - Aalborg Boldspilklub are no push overs. They were originally in the Champions League and managed to tie 2-2 at Old Trafford in December in front of 74,000 and score 3 at Villareal and beat Celtic. www.aabsport.dk
After winning over FC Midtjylland from Herning and FC Kopenhagen from the capital, this was the 3rd Danish club the Sky Blues faced this season. Disappointingly the crowd was only 24,000, half capacity, despite cheap tickets. Next Wednesday AaB will probably fill their 10,500 seat Energi Nord Arena for thir home leg. Swedish coach Magnus Pehrssen might fancy his clubs chances but City have scored in EVERY away UEFA Cup match, and expect to reach the quarter finals of a European tournament for the first time in 30 years. In fact they are 4-1 favourites with the bookies to take the cup in Istanbul on May 20th. www.mcfc.co.uk
Robinho was denied a penalty by the Luxembourg referee A. Hamer, quite rightly in my opinion, but not that of manager Mark Hughes, but Felipe Caicedo opened the scoring after 8 minutes, and man of the match Shaun Wright-Phillips (SWP)scored the second in the 30th minute after a through pass from Stephen Ireland, THE most improved player in England this season.