Thursday Kickoff: Pachuca wins CCL, Inter topples Barcelona and more

PachucaCCL (Reuters) 

Pachuca looked poised for defeat as the final seconds ticked off the clock on Wednesday night, their hopes of another CONCACAF Champions League title fading with each passing moment.

That was before Edgar Benitez scored a dream goal in the 93rd minute to give Pachuca a 1-0 second-leg victory and Champions League final victory on away goals against Cruz Azul. The victory booked Pachuca's return to the FIFA Club World Cup.

U.S. national team midfielder Jose Francisco Torres started and played 80 minutes for Pachuca, and will now take part in the second Club World Cup of his young career (assuming he isn't sold between now and December).

If you missed the championship-winning goal, here it is:


Here are some other stories to get your Thursday going:

INTER'S STINGY DEFENSE TOPS BARCELONA

Inter Milan played a beautiful Champions League semifinal first leg against Barcelona, winning 3-1 at the San Siro, so Jose Mourinho knew he had a safe enough cushion to defend in the second leg. Defend is what Inter did, stifling Barcelona's vaunted attack on its way to a 3-2 aggregate series victory after a slim 1-0 defeat on Thursday.

Barcelona looked poised for the win when Inter midfielder Thiago Motta was issued a red card for a hand to the face of Sergi Busquets, but Inter's defense only grew more resolute, denying Barcelona the type of chances it has grown accustomed to. Barcelona defender Gerard Pique scored a beautiful goal late, but it wasn't enough to erase the two-goal deficit from the first leg.

The victory means Inter Milan will now take on Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League final in Madrid on May 22.

LEONARDO TO LEAVE AC MILAN

AC Milan manager Leonardo will leave the club after one season in charge, club president Silvio Berlusconi revealed on Thursday.

The former Brazilian national team midfielder endured a tough season at Milan, with the club getting off to an awful start it never quite recovered from. Milan improved as the season went on, but ultimately fell short in its quest to challenge rival Inter Milan for the Serie A title.

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What do you think of these stories? Impressed with Torres' performance in a championship match? Still amazed at Inter's ability to shut down Barcelona? Think AC Milan is on the verge of a stretch of prolonged mediocrity?

Share your thoughts below.

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58 Responses to Thursday Kickoff: Pachuca wins CCL, Inter topples Barcelona and more

  1. OmarVizquel says:

    We have a thing in CONCACAF with giving out HUGE trophies.

  2. Freddy says:

    That thing is pretty ugly looking.

  3. DC Josh says:

    It’s almost as bad as ESPN’s camera angle. Was it from section 220 row h seat 5?

  4. Sean says:

    what about gooch in unrestricted training again?

  5. Sean says:

    also, i never imagined that cd9 would resume before him. hopefully he can get in a game or two

  6. Josh D says:

    Interesting you mention Torres maybe being sold between now and December – has there been talk of that in Mexico?

  7. Paul says:

    I think Leonardo is one of those coaches who will come back and eventually become a great coach. He’s a very smart guy but should have started at a lower level. AC Milan is a crippled dinosaur of a club.

  8. BSU SC says:

    I predicted a Bayern vs. Inter final. I’m feeling pretty good today!

    Cruz Azul was a better team than Pachuca for 92 minutes. They played as well in their series as Inter Milan did against Barcelona, but didn’t finish it out. Oh well…it’ll be fun watching Torres play in the Club World Cup. It would be cool to see Pachuca vs. Inter.

  9. A.S. says:

    Is it just me, or does anyone else find “Park the Bus” games, like the Barca-Inter game, to be extremely boring? Yes, it was tense, given the circumstances, but terrible, terrible soccer.

    I thought the Referee really ruined the game. The red card was undeserved, and caused Morinho to revise his “Park the Bus” strategy to “Park the Bus, Put on the Emergency Brake, and Block the Wheels”. (Not to mention the fact that Pique was offside on the Barca goal, and the Bojan goal didn’t seem to be a handball.)

  10. El Torito says:

    Happy for TORRES and the club. Hopefully Bob (the .. what the heck are you trying to accomplish) Bradly will actually bring him into the camp and put him on the 23 men team. Not just that but actually play him on the games. I’m tired of seen inconsistent play from our team under his guidance. We get great moments against big teams and then we forget how to play to the small teams. For example: El Salvador, Cuba, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago. No disrespect for this teams but other teams on the Concacaf like Mexico, Costa Rica will beat them at home with no problem. Except for us, it becomes a struggling battle from start to finish. I’m tired of that. Look at Honduras pre world cup. They have not won or gave out a decent performance against the teams they played. That looks bad on us.

  11. DC Josh says:

    I’m really sick of the “bradley sucks because he doesn’t start Torres in midfield every game” bus. Bradley has given every player a chance to show their worth. Torres is unfortunately a fringe player right now for the US. He’s battling with Bedoya, Beasley, etc. for that final spot. He has Feilhaber, Holden, Edu, Clark, Bradley, Donovan, and Dempsey ahead of him on the depth chart.

    He’ll be in camp, then it’s his job to prove he’s better than those around him.

  12. Paul says:

    I agree with you, but it was a two-game series and Inter did the damage in the first leg. Mourinho did what he had to do against the finest attacking force in the world. However, I don’t care for the Mourinho love-in by the English press (and particularly Chelsea fans). There’s no tactical genius in “parking the bus”, as you say.

  13. Erik says:

    It’s a definite boring tactic, but if you look at some of Mourinho’s quotes, he actually said something to the effect of “let Barca have the ball and we will beat them.”

    It’s an interesting tactic really because like Spain, Barcelona doesn’t have a 2nd way of playing if their first way isn’t working. It’s just short pass, out to the wings, cross, cut, short pass, walk it in, Messi please score, and repeat.

    It was a fun game to watch but the refs in Europe are becoming a disgrace.

  14. Erik says:

    Mourinho, whatever you think of him, is a good coach. HOWEVER, and this is a big however, he will only coach teams who have money… I don’t think he could take a smaller team and do anything with them. Think of it, Porto, Chelsea, Inter… I don’t know if any of these teams even have home grown talent to show in he can truly “coach”.

    Can’t wait for the final – master against student in Van Gaal and Mourinho. Bayern, the team with several youngsters against Inter, full of highly paid mercenaries. : )

  15. Charles says:

    Enjoy the trophey Pachuca, the Sounders will be claiming it next year.

  16. K Bone says:

    I’m no expert on Porto’s youth system, but when Mourinho won the CL with Porto, most of his key players were Portuguese, and he hardly had the same budget as Inter and Chelsea. It’s interesting to think though that he never would have won the CL if Tim Howard hadn’t given away that goal (and if Scholes goal hadn’t been disallowed)…

  17. Jigga says:

    I never thought I’d say something like this, but at this point I’m fed up enough with Sounders and their passionately fair-weather fans that I’ll happily root for a Mexican team to beat the ever-lovin’ bejeezus out of them.

    Enjoy that Open Cup “trophey” Charles, ’cause some other random MLS team will be claiming it this year when you turn out scrubs for your title defense in order to have Ljundberg and Montero fresh for your 7-nil thrashing in Mexico City.

  18. Tony in Quakeland says:

    DC Josh: Stop making sense.

    Amazing how the Torresistas forget that Torres started against Neatherlands and basically made no impact. I like the guy and won’t crab if he makes the squad. And in a couple years, he may be a lock for the Nats. But he’s not now based on his performances AND based on how the team fits together.

  19. Hincha Tim says:

    Jigga,

    Just root for the Timbers. They already beat the Sounders this year.

  20. Matt B. says:

    only MLS teams who will make it out of the group stages are Columbus and LA

  21. ELAC says:

    Yet another CONCACAF trophy no MLS team will carry.

    JFT is rumored to be going to Spain (Deportivo LA Coruna?).

  22. Erik says:

    Just for sake of knowing, I looked it up.

    In terms of players brought through the Porto system, it looks like only Jorge Costa, Carvahlo, and Vitor Baia were the only players of the starting 11 to be brought through.

    Look at this team though – although it was the cheat-ingest team I’ve ever witnessed play football, they had some power… and met Monaco in the final.

    Deco
    Carvahlo,
    Mendes
    Ferreira
    Maniche
    Valente

    It was a stacked team for Portuguese football no doubt, but it wasn’t some small fish that Mourinho was coaching.

  23. El Torito says:

    Is not about getting on the Torres fan wagon or nothing like that. Look at the choices.. I would like him there than Beasley, Clark and Feilhaber. Playing time, results and performance do count right? Maybe a 3rd World Cup of Clubs is not good enough?

    Besides I Love Chicago Fire and it hurts me to say that about Beasley. Keep your head up Chicago. Go USA USA USA USA

  24. obxfly says:

    I can’t believe I turned that game off less than a minute from that goal. I thought Pachuca was toast.

    Go Goooch!

  25. ericJ says:

    Judging from the reactions of Pachuca….the CCL is a crap tournament that no one values or cares about, obviously.

  26. Sergio of SF says:

    I can’t wait until the day that MLS teams can compete in this competition. We need reserve players.

  27. reverb says:

    Stats on the Barcelona – Inter match:

    link to fcbarcelona.cat

    Favorite part: “- Barça ended the game with seven youth team products on the field. Not one Italian appeared in the Inter side.”

  28. BrooklynFC says:

    Word…. if we could expand the roster to 30 it would be perfect

  29. BrooklynFC says:

    That would be great…. but in an Ideal World he would be offered DP from the Red Bulls and Play next to Lindpere

  30. Erik says:

    That’s the story of football these days.

    Look at the teams who have a youth team presence: Bayern, Machester United, Barcelona…

  31. bryan says:

    not to mention Inter had to play a man down. im sure that affected how they played.

  32. bryan says:

    they forgot “the cheater Busquets rolled around acting as if he was hurt and played peek-a-boo to make sure he didn’t stop before the ref saw him in EXCRUCIATING pain.”

    he should be punished for that. anyway, it’s amazing not one italian was on that team. even Arsenal has english players!

  33. Jigga says:

    What, you didn’t hear? Seattle’s got it in the bag this year.

  34. Jigga says:

    I’m pretty sure the team’s name is “Internazionale.” So I think they can justify having players of whatever nationality they like.

  35. Charles says:

    Fair weather ?

    The reason you are fed up ?

  36. DCLee says:

    The reaction from Pachuca’s head coach was classic and shows the passion in that game last night! Good luck Club World Cup Pachuca.

  37. Charles says:

    Chances are Jigga will hate the Timbers very quickly too. maybe not the number of fans, but probably even more passionate.

  38. Charles says:

    amen to that.

  39. ericW says:

    Gotta love the fans in the stands CRYING from joy.

  40. Erik says:

    Actually, on any given day it would be hard to spot an Englishman in the Arsenal starting 11.

    I remember when Arsenal played Real Madrid and Arsenal had zero English players starting while Madrid had 2 in Beckham and Owen.

  41. bryan says:

    hahaha good point

  42. bryan says:

    that is true! i think in 2008 they have 0.34% English players on their roster.

  43. reverb says:

    No Italian on the field. Inter do have Mario Balotelli, of Italian citizenry. Any others?

  44. jig says:

    Man United? “Youth presence”? 2 players in their starting 11 came through their academy, Gibson and Fletcher.

  45. Dman says:

    Although I disagree with the Red Card on Thiago was a yellow card more reasonable. Iam asking because if so then that would have been his second yellow.

  46. BetaMale says:

    Anyone else freaked out by the way Pachuca’s keeper looks? He’s even scarier when he has his pirate bandanna on.

  47. DC Josh says:

    Galaxy won in 2000 and DC won in 1998. Although a Mexican squad has been in the finals ever since 2000 I think. It’s still pathetic we can’t at least put two teams in the knockout stage.

  48. jig says:

    “HOWEVER, and this is a big however, he will only coach teams who have money… I don’t think he could take a smaller team and do anything with them.” – Erik

    Are you kidding with this? He’s the best manager in the world, what’s he supposed to do, NOT manage clubs with money? That’s like undermining Messi’s performances because he will only play with guys that give him the world’s best passes.

    Also, you’re an idiot if you think Porto was a big club back in 2003-04. They arent even a big club today by the standards of the top leagues. Are you also forgetting that Mourinho guided them past Manchester United, Lyon, and one of Deportivo’s best ever sides to get to the final that year?

  49. Steve/ATL says:

    “Favorite part: ‘- Barça ended the game with seven youth team products on the field. Not one Italian appeared in the Inter side.’ ”

    A friend from Barcelona told me this morning that that is a huge point of pride on the part of Catalans–that despite losing, they were still very proud of their team because of the way they play, not just the final result.

  50. Josh D says:

    O’Shea, Scholes, Giggs, Neville, Evans come straight to mind spaz.

  51. Josh D says:

    Theo Walcott and Sol Campbell say otherwise!

  52. DaveW says:

    In a very unscientific survey of a few newspaper sites around the region(from lanic.utexas.edu), neither Costa Rican site mentioned it, both Honduran sites mentioned it, a Jamaican site, a Trinidadian site and a Salvadoran site didn’t mention it.
    USL seems to me basically a second division team, Pumas played most of it with their 2nd division youth side plus a couple guys who get limited minutes in the senior side, until they decided they might have a chance at it. And their coach cried a bit about having to divert resources from league play to get into and play the semifinals.
    Most of the region doesn’t have the resources to play in the tournament and domestically and it suffers.
    There must be a better way for Concacaf to grow into this kind of competition.

  53. Erik says:

    That’s not every game though. How often does Theo play anyway? Sol has only been back for a couple of months.

  54. jig says:

    go back and read what I wrote.

  55. K Bone says:

    I agree with all of that. However, like I said, they were lucky to beat United, and if Howard hadn’t gifted them that away goal, who knows where Mourinho’s legacy would be. Good job Howard, making legendary soccer coaches careers start…

  56. Dlewis says:

    I would not have guessed that Barcelona would lose this one. Even when I was watching the game I thought the pressure would have cracked Inter defense which was going deeper and deeper into their own zone as the game went on. That said I think Bayern Munich will win the title because of their strong midfield game and the wing play of Robben and Ribery. It will also be good for Bayer Munich because it’s just a nice upset story.

  57. Jigga says:

    Timbers fans have been supporting their team passionately for years in the second division. I already love them.

  58. madmax says:

    Gringo Torres played higher than usual. He looked a little unsure in the attacking end which would be normal, but was still very solid.