Sunday, June 6, 2010

The 2010 Unicef Soccer Aid charity match took place this evening at Old Trafford and as Al Murray said at half time, it was a great game of pub football.

On the whole it was pretty entertaining stuff. I'm sure not many people would expect to see a team lining up with Zinedine Zidane and Mike Myers up front in their lifetime, but that's what we got, along with the usual ex players, top celeb players like Ralf Little, and the usual mix of good celebrities who you'd like to see muck around on the football pitch and some reality show no marks you couldn't care less about.

As we'd said before we're not a huge fan of so many of the charity "celebrity" matches, but Soccer Aid is something we can always make an exception with.

This year was the third staging of the bi-annual event and had some of the best collection of players so far, as an England XI managed by Harry Redknapp, took on a World XI managed by Kenny Dalglish.

Zinedine Zidane showed some sublime glimpses in the first half in particular, to show why many still feel he was one of the best players to have ever graced a football pitch. He was joined in the team at half time by Luis Figo. Not a bad line up!

The first half was played in almost a constant drizzle, which saw some of the non footballers visibly tire as the half went on, but England went into the break one up, following a great move and finish by Jamie Redknapp.

The World XI's Nicky Byrne, of Westlife, had earlier missed the chance to put his side in the lead when his penalty was saved.

With the rash of celebrity substitutions coming in the second half, the quality of football on display may have dipped a little, but it was still entertaining with some real flashes of genius on the World team in particular. Whether that's just because I was missing seeing some football on my TV screen this weekend I don't know!

England went retro to go two up, with the old school SAS partnership of Alan Shearer crossing for Teddy Sheringham to head home doing the damage. Minutes later Henrik Larsson thought he'd pulled one back but it was ruled offside, but Joe Calzhage soon did get the World XI on the scoresheet.

With the celebrity goalkeepers in for the second half, this was possibly the start a goalfest, but fair play to Patrick Kielty and Jamie Theakston, they made some really good saves, especially the latter's point blank stop from Henrik Larsson in the dying seconds.

Sami Hyypia had tied the game up at 2-2 in the 79th minute which took the match to penalties.

The celebrity only shoot out went to eleven shots each and despite Jamie Theakston pulling off four tremendous saves (England's goalkeeping questions being answered!), England fell victim once again to a penalty shoot out defeat.

It's always sweet to see them lose that way, no matter who scores the winner, and on this occasion it was Hollywood A-lister Woody Harrelson. Cheers!

So what can we take from the game? Zidane still has the skills to play properly today, Shearer still goes to ground too easily, a strikeforce of Zidane, Larsson and Figo would have been wonderful to see on any pitch, anywhere in the world, Brian Lara looks like he may have had a good career as a footballer if he hadn't chosen cricket, Dermot O'Leary really shouldn't be let near presenting football and UNICEF is a great cause worth supporting.

The only disappointing aspect of the evening's entertainment was that those fucking annoying horns seem to have somehow made their way into the UK. It's going to be bad enough in South Africa for the next month but let's just hope that we don't see a proliferation of the damned things in the UK now. It's NOT a trend that should catch on. How can anyone like the fuckers??!!

That aside it was a good night of football for a good cause and you can donate to Unicef's Soccer Aid HERE. Please give what you can and remember, every little helps.

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