A testing tussle in the tunnel

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The Independent Online

Another magic midweek helping of European football has put the beautiful game back on the arts pages (writes our football reporter, Rene McGrit)!

Another magic midweek helping of European football has put the beautiful game back on the arts pages (writes our football reporter, Rene McGrit)! On Tuesday and Wednesday the great clubs of modern times showed that the wizards of yesteryear still have their classy counterparts in the mesmeric magicians of today! Paid too much? Not when they produce scintillating sport of this standard! And it is the icing on the custard to think that British teams are still in contention at the highest level!

"Si, tenemos siempre confianza!" I was exclusively told by the manager of high-flying Belgravia FC, Gesualdo, before the vital second-leg encounter against the equally high-flying Real Inquisicion from Spain. "Oh, sorry. I am talking Spanish. I have done so many interviews today I do not know which language I am in. What was the question? And what was the language?"

The question in English was, do you think you can do it against Real, and do you really hate their Slovak manager, Rent Waldo?

"I do not hate him," shrugs Gesualdo, the first manager in modern football to adopt a single name. "I spit on his grave. I spit on his mother's grave. If his mother is alive, I spit on her personally. But I do not hate him. It is not worth the time. No se vale."

Is there any truth they exchanged words in the tunnel after the first leg?

"No. Not words. Blows, yes. Not words. I do not waste my words on this Slovakian pygmy. But when he threaten me, then yes, I defend myself. God gave me a knife to defend myself, so I go for him. Then he pulls a gun. I bring out my Mace spray. Then we are separated by security people, because otherwise I kill him. But hate him? No. Never. I let my team talk for me."

And talk they did, inflicting a magnificent 0-0 no-score draw on their hapless rivals, going through to the next round on the away fouls rule. Meanwhile, the Midland maestros, M1 Wanderers, faced an enormous test of character in their tussle against the German giant-killers, Bayern Lederhosen, for whom the Brazilian star Donaldini was always going to be the main threat. Guarding a 2-1 deficit from the first home leg, manager Sir Ron had to throw men forward in attack, throw men backwards in defence, throw men sideways in despair and throw a piece of pizza at his team in the half-time pep talk.

"Did I throw a piece of pizza?" said Sir Ron, when I asked him afterwards if he had thrown a piece of pizza. "Aye, mebbe I did, and mebbe I didn't, right enough. Any other questions, laddie?"

Yes. Why are you talking in a Scottish accent?

"Sorry, mate," says Sir Ron in his familiar Brummy voice. "Done too many interviews today. I like to vary my tactics."

Alas, the wily Donaldini was too much for the Wanderers defence, slipping four goals past them and knocking them out. Wanderers defender Rod Clamp confirmed his mesmerising effect.

"I can remember a Portuguese voice saying, 'You are going into a trance, you will remember nothing, you will pretend to tackle me, but you will always let me past'. After that I remember nothing."

Clever stuff indeed. Finally, our other British contender, Bradford and Bingley United, travelled to Lucknow in India for their away leg. This was a mistake, as it should have been to Lugano in Italy, and they have now forfeited the match.

"No regrets, Rene," says B&B manager Steve Gudgeon. "Lucknow is lovely this time of year, and the team had a well-deserved rest before returning to the hurly burly of the League. I am told it was sleeting in Lugano. Enough said."

Other results in brief:

CUP-LOSERS CUP

FC Schiller 1 WG Sebald 1

Sporting Gesture 1 Beau Geste 1

EUFA TUREEN

Real Albondigas 1 FC Borscht 1

Sporting Gazpacho 1 - Cock o'the Leekie 1

EUROPEAN LOVIN' CUP

Red Roses 1 Kiss o'the North 1

Champagne 1 Truffletown 1

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