Understandably, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti was proud of the way his team “controlled” Wednesday’s 1-0 win against Atletico Madrid, which was just enough to see his team through to the UEFA Champions League semifinals after the two-game quarterfinal series between the teams finished by the same score-line.
“I wanted to control the game, avoid counterattacks and maintain concentration at free-kicks. We controlled the game really well at all times,” the Italian said after the game.
Indeed, over the two games, Real definitely controlled the play even if Atleti stubbornly kept trying to kill it. Ancelotti’s men created far more good chances, especially in the first half of the first game at the Vicente Calderon, than Diego Simeone’s, and in the end they were worthy winners.
UEFA will also be happy that offense eventually prevailed against defense in this series; the semifinals will be a far greater spectacle for having Real in them than Atleti (imagine the 240 dour, scoreless minutes we’d be in for if Atleti drew, say, Juventus in one of the semis).
In the end, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez tapped home the 88th-minute winner following a magnificent assist from Cristiano Ronaldo, whose one-two with James Rodriguez was the one true piece of offensive quality in a series that has been defined in recent years by Atleti’s stolid defending. If you haven’t seen the goal, check it out -- it was well worth the wait.
Hernandez was later criticized by France and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, who complained that the Mexican had celebrated as if he’d just won the World Cup.
Now, Off The Post is definitely not a fan of Chicharito (what self-respecting man would call himself a “Little Pea”?), nor is he generally favorably disposed to any player that might feature in Miguel Herrera’s Gold Cup squad this summer (OTP is a red-blooded American), but if he were Chicharito, whose only played 15 minutes for Real Madrid this season (note: this is not an accurate stat), and then scored the winner in close-to-the-last-minute against one of Real’s most hated rivals in one of its biggest games all season, he might get caught up in the moment and start by celebrating as if he’d won the World Cup, too.
Henry’s chief complaint is that Chicharito scored a tap-in, so the first thing he should do is acknowledge that Ronaldo did all the work, and go over and thank him.
Ronaldo absolutely did do all the work. Everyone saw it.
But what a heavy irony we have here that Ronaldo, of all people, provided the assist. Not that Ronaldo never shares -- he absolutely does, and this was a particularly fantastic one -- but whenever the three-time Ballon d’Or winner scores (and he scores rather often) he has, to OTP’s mind, a far more irksome tendency to over-celebrate than anyone else in the world, even if he’s just scored a tap-in and it’s his fifth of the match.
He does that dramatic jump--turn-and-howl-thing while presenting his number 7 to the crowd, as if anyone in the crowd doesn’t know who he is or what his number is. And if anyone (particularly Gareth Bale) supplied the pass for his tap-in, they’re lucky if they even get a wink from CR7.
So pardonnez-moi, Monsieur Henry, but OTP, for one, thinks being uber-critical of a player’s celebration, especially in the heat of the moment during a big game, is a ridiculous waste of time and brain cells.
So go on, Little Pea, enjoy your moment, just please ditch that nickname.