So I found out at about 8pm that there was a 5 match choice on Sky. I was at a mate’s house in Winchester, with no money. My mum phoned my local pub and asked if they could put the Dinamo game on for us. They agreed in principle, so my friend and I went to my house, collected my mum and dad (who generously offered to buy drinks) and went to the Cleveland Bay.
Almost as soon as the bar staff had found the requisite channel and Malmo v Dinamo was beamed into the most popular pub in leafy Valley Park, Vrsaljko got sent off – unfairly, I think. His challenge was rubbish, but not malicious; I think the referee thought that because it happened seconds after a worse incident, it must have been retaliation. The player responsible for the worse incident got a booking, so even if I’m wrong and it was retaliation, it comes into the Barton/Gervinho category – should have been equal punishment. I also think it looked worse from where the referee was standing – they showed both angles and it definitely looked tame from the side the ref wouldn’t have been able to see.
Dinamo were then up against it for most of the following 45 minutes. They had a good spell in which Sammir and others should have scored: at 5-1 up on aggregate, they could have just sat back. But no. A minute and a half after Dinamo missed a sitter, Malmo won a free kick – again unfairly, but it could have been worse because the “foul” took place about half an inch outside the area. Malmo’s Figueiredo, who looks a great player, scored with a sweet and unsaveable direct free kick.
They then ran riot. The second goal was a lot less salubrious and I didn’t really see it, if you know what I mean, even though I was looking right at it: I just saw a scramble and the ball nestling in the back of the net. Seconds before, we’d all been convinced that somebody was offside, but the linesman didn’t agree. Dinamo’s defending from around the 12 or 15-yard mark had been horrendous – hoofing the ball up in the air, playing it square or loose. I’ve no idea how this team managed to let in only two goals in the whole competition before tonight’s game (but then again, you could have said that about Malmo after watching the first leg).
There were three more heartstopping moments. On one occasion, two Malmo players were through and Dinamo goalkeeper Ivan Kelava made a brilliant double save from their respective feet. He then came rushing out to punch away a dangerous-looking ball on the edge of the area, and tipped over a dipping free-kick. I kept thinking, “I want him at Arsenal… no I don’t, we’ve got Szczesny”. It seems strange to only want a Dinamo keeper to be at Dinamo, knowing that he’s going to be playing Champions League football there this season – normally, I’m planning their next move to somebody not too bad! The referee then chose to guarantee me a premature death of heart failure by awarding an inexplicable 5 minutes’ injury time (1 red card, 2 goals, no injuries… 3 minutes tops). With one minute and 30 seconds remaining, I considered escape into the toilets. With 13 seconds to go, Dinamo gave away a stupid free kick, but the Malmo player hit the first defender and then, suddenly, it was all over. I leapt up from my seat in the pub and punched the air and shouted, “COME ON!” Suddenly, all the heart trauma seemed worth it!
Unfortunately I then received strict instructions from a disappointed Wisla fan that the sausage was not for the dog (nie dla psa kielbasa). I thought this was some kind of odd “keep the champagne on ice/don’t kill the fatted calf” metaphor for Dinamo’s inevitable demise, but no, the true meaning is “it rhymes”. Thanks, Tomasz I was quite disappointed for Wisla too. They lost 3-1. I kept thinking when it was 1-0 that they only had to get one and they’d be through – it wasn’t enough, as it happens.
I should really go to bed now, but just one omission from last week’s post: I was so carried away with the fact that Schalke lost to HJK Helsinki that I failed to notice Roma losing 1-0 to Slovan Bratislava! What’s going on there, eh? I await the second leg with interest.
I will be watching the Arsenal match with similar trepidation tomorrow night, but one of my teams – the unexpected one – is in the group stage and that, for now, makes me a very happy person indeed. AJMO PLAVI!
God bless, Jenni xx