It feels good to be back in Madison after two-and-a-half months. Denver’s okay, but there’s not much going on in the summer.– I guess I’ll admit it right off the bat. I left town in May a Rockies fan in denial. I returned to Madison in August a proud supporter of the purple pinstripes. – Okay, they’ve slipped a bit since the break, and they appear to be headed for the golf course once again in early October.– But two things need to be said: It was a hell of a ride following the team this year, up until around Aug. 18, and I’ll go out on a limb and call the five Colorado starters the best staff in the National League.– Not that that’s saying much, but it’s something for Denver baseball fans to get excited about for 2007.– Most entertaining quote of the summer: “Can’t wait. Can’t wait! Next Monday! Get to coach football again! Yes!” — Indiana football coach Terry Hoeppner at Big Ten Media Day, Aug. 1.– Yes, Terry, we’re all excited too. Just maybe not that excited.– What in the world was Zinedine Zidane thinking?– Going into the FIFA 2006 World Cup Final, with Italy and France competing, I had heard of just one player on either team. And in the 109th minute, Zidane exhibited perhaps the most distasteful act I have ever seen in sports.– Keep in mind, this is coming from a lifelong Avalanche fan who still wants to see Todd Bertuzzi run over by a cement truck.– I don’t care what Italy’s Marco Materazzi said to Zidane in the heat of the moment. Headbutting an opponent right in the middle of the chest is beyond inexcusable.– And in the final game of his allegedly illustrious career, no less.– Everybody kept saying “Oh, he let his team down, he let his country down.” I say he let his entire sport down.– Seeing as soccer struggles with American popularity, and the World Cup — this year’s Cup, in particular — could have served as a fantastic opportunity to win over some fans, Zidane should be blamed for showing the United States — and the world — exactly what is wrong with this game.– Shame on Zidane. As it happens, I’m glad Italy won, just to kick — or headbutt — Zidane when he’s down.– Weirdest quote of the summer: “It was helpless to sit there and watch. We scored only one run. We have to be better than this to stay in the race.” — Joe Torre, after his New York Yankees lost to the Cleveland Indians 19-1, July 4.– I am starting to respect the Yankees at this point; following a five-game sweep of the rival Red Sox, the Yanks sit atop the AL East by a healthy six-and-a-half game margin. All things considered — namely injuries, old age and the merciless treatment of Alex Rodriguez — that’s pretty impressive, even to a Boston guy (since 2001) like myself.– But I still think it’s funny that Torre was concerned about his offense when his pitching staff gave up 19 runs in a game. Seems like some priorities were bent out of shape.– I will never — repeat, never — understand paintball.– On July 12, a high school football player died in the heat of a paintball battle in Oklahoma. Garrett Bennett, just 17 years old, was entering his senior year.– Here’s the kicker: a simple paintball war on foot wasn’t enough for these guys. The tragedy occurred as two cars were pelting each other at 75 mph on an Oklahoma highway, and one car swerved off the road, killing Bennett instantly.– Call me what you wish, because I know I sound like a cranky old man, but paintball seems like the absolute dumbest thing one can do with one’s time.– It is, put simply, a tragedy that a good kid was taken at such a young age because maturity was in short supply.– The Tour de France … No. I will not bring myself to comment on a bike race. Ever.– Most hilarious quote of the summer: “I think I farted twice on the couch during this series — and I was called for two fouls against Dwyane Wade.” — From a reader e-mail on the NBA blog of ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons, June 22.– That’s certainly one way to put it, isn’t it?– Well, put it this way: I’m not going to say that NBA commissioner David Stern was absolutely playing favorites during the Finals in June, when the Miami Heat defeated the Dallas Mavericks in six games for the title amid questionable officiating.– However, the fact that D-Wade shot 25 free throws in Game 5 — exact change for the number of trips to the charity stripe by all of the Mavericks combined during that game — is appalling.– I’m mad at the NBA, and only time will tell if I’ll follow the league for the 2006-07 season.– Whoops. Just for saying that, Wade’s going to the line for two shots.Aaron is a sophomore who is living in Liz Waters this year. Yes, for the 283rd time, guys do live there now. You can contact him at [email protected]
Wikki Tourists yesterday failed to regain leadership of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) after they forced hosts Niger Tornadoes to a 1-1 draw in Lokoja.Wikki is now second on the table having recorded 44 points from 26 matches, two points behind new leaders Enugu Rangers.Rivers United stayed in third place also on 44 points, but with an inferior goals difference to Wikki. Enyimba is now fourth on the table with 40 points, six points adrift of new league leaders Enugu Rangers. Pillars are fifth on the standings with 39 points.Tornadoes opened scoring against Wikki through Kunle Issa after 21 minutes.Charles Henlong equalised for Wikki in the 64th minute from close range.Rivers United were truly at home in Port Harcourt when they defeated Shooting Stars 2-0 only days after they eliminated the Ibadan club from the Federation Cup in penalty shootout.Rivers goals were by Ivorian striker Guy Kuemian and Frederick Obomate with Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike watching in the stands.Also yesterday in Port Harcourt, Enyimba recorded the double over rivals Kano Pillars after they won 2-1.The NPFL champions had similarly defeated Pillars 2-1 in Kano in the first round of the championship.Ifeanyi Anaemena fired Enyimba ahead in the 10th minute, but veteran striker Adamu Mohammed drew level a minute.Uche John scored the match winner in the 73rd minute from the penalty spot after Stephen Chukwude was brought down inside the box on his way to goal.This was minutes after Enyimba were denied a penalty after Joseph Osadiaye was also felled inside the box.In the 90th minute, Pillars goalkeeper David Obiozor pulled off a big save to deny Chukwude from point-blank range.In other matches, Abia Warriors pipped Warri Wolves 1-0, MFM FC beat Heartland 2-0 and Lobi Stars were 1-0 winners over visiting Plateau United. FC IfeanyiUbah defeated El Kanemi Warriors 1-0.RESULTSRivers Utd 2-0 3SCTornadoes 1-1 WikkiEnyimba 2-1 Kano PillarsLobi 1-0 Plateau UtdIfeanyiUbah 1-0 ElkanemiAbia Warrior 1-0 WolvesMFM FC 2-0 HeartlandNasarawa 3-0 SunshineAkwa Utd 2-3 RangersShare this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram
Real Madrid were made to sweat in Istanbul but held on for a 3-2 defeat away to Galatasaray, a result which nevertheless assured their passage into the last four of the Champions League with a 5-3 victory on aggregate.The Spanish side looked set to cruise through when Cristiano Ronaldo opened up a four-goal aggregate lead in the opening minutes, but a timid response by the visitors encouraged the Turkish giants to chase the impossible, which they almost achieved as Emmanuel Eboue, Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba hit in the second half. Ronaldo finally ended their hopes with a late goal that sealed victory.Virtually assured of a place in the Champions League semi-finals thanks to a dominant 3-0 win in the Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid nevertheless began the second leg in belligerent fashion, pushing forward immediately in search of a goal.Angel Di Maria was almost the man to provide it in the first minute of play, picking up a loose ball after Fernando Muslera’s rushed clearance outside the area. The Argentine went for the net, but with Galatasaray defenders scampering back he saw the effort fall just the wrong side of the post.Away fans, however, did not have to wait long, as after just seven minutes of play the Merengue got the strike that would surely put the tie beyond the faintest of doubts. An overlapping Sami Khedira streaked past on the right-hand side, and put a teasing ball into the middle. As the Turkish backline failed to react, Cristiano Ronaldo was on hand to tap home, recording his 49th Champions League goal and drawing level with the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano in the historical charts.Despite that early blow, Galatasaray held their heads high, dominating possession against Jose Mourinho’s men and attempting to match their rivals. Didier Drogba was the target of much of the Turks’ attacking play, but was let down by poor service and his own fading reflexes, and struggled to make an impact. Madrid sat back and were content to allow their opponents to do the running, while on the counter-attack they remained a frightening force. This potency on the break was demonstrated when Di Maria went within a hair’s breadth of adding a second. The midfielder latched to a wonderful flick from Ronaldo to break free on the left, and looked destined to put his name on the board. He did not count on the heroics of Muslera, however. The goalkeeper pulled off a breathtaking fingertip save to keep Angel out, and ensure that the gap would not widen as the two sides went in for the break.The Turkish side continued their unlikely pursuit in the second half, and were rewarded with their first goal of the tie 57 minutes in – and it was one worth waiting for. A speculative ball across the Madrid area was not picked up by anyone, which allowed Emmanuel Eboue to meet it just on the edge of the area. The right-back had been disappointing during the opening hour, but atoned with a stunning power shot which left Lopez no chance to save, and put Galatasaray on the board.The hosts were now buoyant, and could have reduced the deficit to ‘just’ three goals if Sneijder had converted a golden chance. The Netherlands star found himself in the right place at the back post after a low cross was deflected into his path but, gloriously unmarked, he fluffed a left-footed shot to save Madrid from falling behind on the night. The midfielder was not done, however, cutting inside his marker from deep, Sneijder went to to release a bullet of a shot that put his side ahead, at least for the second leg.The Turkish crowd, from a position of despair, could not believe their eyes. Drogba set up an unthinkable last 20 minutes with a wonderful backheel into the net, putting Galatasaray 3-1 up and leaving just two goals for the comeback.And Drogba thought he had levelled the tie before being pulled back for an offside and Madrid lived to breathe another day, Ronaldo confirming their passage with a strong finish in the final minute. The Merengue join Borussia Dortmund in the penultimate stage of the competition with Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain fighting to claim the final two spots on Wednesday evening.