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United 1 Chelsea 1, 6-5 to the Reds on pens!

I missed the Barca 99 final due to a nasty exam scheduled for the next morning and have been desperate to see United get to another ever since. Whilst many Reds value the league as more important (but we had that in the bag this year anyway…!) I personally wanted to see us lift this trophy more, especially on the 5oth anniversary of Munich and the 40th of Wembley. The European Cup is the biggest club competition in the world and as my dad was there is 68 and 99 (and now 08) I have been brought up on stories of just how special those nights are. Moscow was always a ludicrous venue for this match but it was not going to stop us enjoying it. We set off from Stansted on Tuesday night and after some messing around got into Moscow at 2.30am. Our coaches, however, had not turned up, and when they did we had to stop every 10 mins for the drivers to have a cigarette break. We eventaully got to our so-called Moscow hotel at 4.30am. It was nowhere near Moscow and was not really a hotel though- a disgusting hovel with trickling water, see-through curtains, dirty sheets and not enough beds in a ‘resort’ an hour away by bus to the nearest metro stop at the end of the line.

We got up on match day after 3 hours sleep to sample the strange breakfast laid on by the hotel but decided to pass on it after seeing what arrived. Instead we tried to find the way into town- a more difficult task than winning the Champions League. After a very long bus journey we arrived at a metro station with dogs lying all over the floor, a long queue for tickets and not a clue what we were doing. An hour later and we finally got to Red Square where special Champions League activities had been put on, including a very lengthy queue to see the trophy. No thanks - we would see it a few hours later being carried around by our players!

We headed off to meet other friends in the Vogue Cafe - where all the waitresses are models and the prices reflect the great view! Attendees at our large table included Margus from Estonia, Raj (whos gets upset at never being mentioned in UO reports), John who had flown in especially from ther States and others from Manchester who had flown in on the Monday. The waitresses, as lovely as they were, did not leave without making it very clear what percentage tip they expected which somehow summed up Russian bluntness and lack of tact.

Unfortunately we only got another ten minutes in Red Square before the long trek back to the hotel started again. The weather was horrendous by this point and we wondered how the 577 bus was even going to get through the deep puddles and flooded roads. Eventually we made it - 4 hours travelling for 20 mins in Red Square and a spot of lunch. The bus to the stadium was less painless and we got to the stadium a few hours before kick off. There was a ‘fanzone area’ laid on that was pretty poor and so we went in to the impressive stadium instead.

The ground was modern, had great facilities and, aside from the running track, a great view of the pitch. We were 29 rows back on the corner to the right of the goal - high enough to get an overview of the pitch but low enough so that the celebrations would be right in front of us uf we won. After a lot of build up, balloons, hype and dancers running around the pitch it was finally time.

United were unbelievable in the first half. The game should have been over long before it was. Ronaldo, and not just with his goal, showed why he is the best player in the world atthe monet- including on the biggest stage- and the team ran Chelsea ragged. The United fans also outdid Chelsea and the sight of 20,000 bar scarves swinging in the air was sensational.

However, we all know goals change games and Chelsea’s lucky goal (fortunately John Terry would later slip just as Edwin did) turned the match. In the second half Chelsea were the better side, their fans had woken up a bit, and it felt terrible as we imagined the game crashing away from us. Chelsea’s resolve to hang in there in the first half has to be admired, but so too must United’s for getting their act back together and taking control again in extra time. The game should have been won by Giggsy but somehow Terry cleared the looping shot away, and so penalties beckoned.

The keepers came down towards our end and the rest of the players were gathered on the half way line. It was torture to watch and the emotions of the next fifteen minutes were just too much to take at times. Each time we scored it felt like pure heaven, each time Chelsea equalised it felt like torture. And when Ronaldo missed the game looked to be lost. My most nervy moment was Nani’s pen as he is unpredictable, if he missed it was game over. Fortunately his went in and then up stepped John Terry to end the game. But Viva John Terry- he could have won the cup but he fucked it up - Viva John terry. It was just incredible -Edwin dived, the net was empty, and somehow it did not go in. Queue mad celebrations in the United, but these were shot lived as soon it was back to the action. We all know what happened next- we kept out bottle and Chelsea lost theirs- and it was fantastcially all over when hero Edwin saved from an ex City and Liverpoool player. Happy days.

The relief was immense, in all honesty I burst out crying as many did around me, with everyone hugging and falling around uncontrolably. The players showed what it meant to them as they rushed towards us going ballistic, and as Ronaldo lay on the floor crying with tears of joy. It was so special to everyone there, and I nearly almost even felt sorry for Terry. Just kidding.

For the next hour we celebrated with the players as they stood in front of us with the cup having walked up to receive it with Bobby Charlton. 50 years on from Munich it was so fitting, especially seeing how Chelsea had been led to the podium by Peter fucking Kenyon. Champions of Europe again, and over the course of the season it was so deserved. The tannoy bellowed out classic United songs and the lyrics “In Moscow we made it three, Que Sera Sera” became the anthem of the night.

We left the stadium at 3.30am and madeit to the hotel for 5.30am. After another night with no sleep we met again at 9,30 and spent the day in town, after the cistomary 2 hour journey in from our hellish accomodation of course. But who cares when you’ve won the European cup right?! After lengthy airport delays we got back to London at 3am - a third night with no sleep as I headed to work early Friday morning.

This result was pure heaven. Greatest night I can think off. The ultimate match and result. And now for a weekend of catching up on sleep and watching it over and over. What a lovely summer this promises to be.

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