By Mac Izu Nelson
Today’s 3 things we learnt is a review of some of yesterday’s breath-taking football action.
1. A Big L for Liverpool; The EFL Cup is usually viewed as just a token cup by football lovers.
Still, the biggest clubs try their bests to gobble up everything that lies in their path.
The biggest clubs do not pass up opportunities to drink from football’s cup of accolades. A comparison of accolades is really what sets out the elite from the laity of football, and the biggest clubs know that every cup is eventually important.
Yesterday, Liverpool passed up a chance to get to the finals of the EFL Cup at the expense of a dogged Southampton team who came with a singular game plan which they executed to perfection.
If the first leg was a masterclass in dominance and counter pressing, then the second leg was a lesson in timing, patience, and the magic of counter attacking football.
Nathan Redmond was a real livewire when he broke from deep, beating Liverpool right back on the day, the rookie Alexander almost at will. He created two chances from two of those surging runs which were ruefully spurned.
Sturridge was the culprit of a host of missed chances for the reds, blazing over the bar on more than one occasion but the most frustrated person on the pitch seemed to be Liverpool coach, Jurgen Klopp.
Then the goal happened. A breakaway from a Liverpool corner by the Saints saw the ball find Shane Long who made no mistake tucking it into the far corner.
The fans exploded and Claude Puel could be seen, fist bumping the air, delirious with excitement.
Southampton progress to the finals of the EFL Cup where they prepare to meet either Manchester United or Hull City.
2. Madrid In Tatters; The defeat against Sevilla has led to a slippery downward spiral for Real.
Indeed Real has won just once since that game at Sevilla and there are questions which need answering.
An argument has to be made that here is the time for coach, Zinedine Zidane to prove his mettle.
Celta Vigo started the match against Madrid, showing more zest and attacking with more verve.
One of such attacks led to the ball bouncing off Danilo’s leg for their first goal.
They couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe it; they were 3-1 up against arguably the best team in the world.
When Ronaldo floated in a well taken free kick (probably his first in like a thousand attempts), there was renewed hope for Madridstas the world over.
But a sweeping Celta move saw them retake the lead minutes to the end of the match, putting the game to bed.
A Lucas Vaszquez header to level up the tie in the 90th minute was barely a consolation.
Madrid crashed out of the Copa Del Rey, with their hands on their heads.
3. Juventus Majestic; For the first time in a long time, I watched 90 minutes of a Serie A game. The chanting in the crowds, the emotion the players showed, even the football’s quality; the Seria A has improved!
I was not served up with some drab, mind numbing slug-fest; this was proper football with all the twists.
Season sensation Paulo Dybala scored a gorgeous goal when he attacked a ball, which had set up nicely for him, on the half volley.
He wheeled away in celebration, he kissed the badge, and then he slid on the turf, his team mates pouring over him.
The second goal was more breath-taking stuff.
Once more, a Miralem Pjanic free kick found its way into the net, sparking jubilant scenes.
In the second half, after Carlos Bacca put his laces through a headed pass hitting it on the half volley, after he scored what was a beautiful goal, the fightback was on.
Milan pressed Juventus into their own half, applying the pressure for that equalizing goal.
There were fierce tackles, face offs, and lung bursting runs; it was Italian football at its epic best.
When AC Milan conceded a silly red card, it became an uphill task to level things out.
Still, the match evoked memories of fiery memories of days past.
More of the same, please.