Coin tossed, and MU will be the first to shoot. Petr Cech stands on the goal line. Carlos Tevez steps up, cool as cucumber. Score. 1-0 to MU.
Van der Sar’s turn to guard the goal. He stretches out his arms. Seemingly a smaller figure than the towering Petr Cech. Hmm … seems like Chelsea has an advantage.
As Michael Ballack walks up to the box, German’s efficiency and dependable quality comes to mind. And he does not disappoint. All square at 1-1.
Michael Carrick is next. The first Englishman to step up. Tevez did not put a dent into the reputation of Argentine’s skillfulness; neither did Ballack bring shame to German’s reputation of robustness. Now what reputation can an Englishman fall back on. Hmm … nothing comes to mind. He runs, lifts his leg, kicks the ball, the balls flies from the spot … straight into the goal. Well done. Advantage MU, 2-1.
Juliano Belletti’s next. Juliano who? How millions did he cost? Anyway, he scores. 2-2.
After four shootouts, it does seem that Van der Sar’s a bit more vulnerable than Petr Cech, letting in goal with much more ease.
Now, Ronaldo walks towards the box. Player of the year, 40+ goals during this season, steps over, etc, etc all do not come to mind, except his penalty miss against Barcelona.
“Score the goal. Score the goal. Score the goal … go, go, go, should I go, or should I stay? Go or stay? Go or stay?”, probably something going through his mind as he walks towards the spot.
One step, two step, halt. Smell the rose a bit. One, two, three, and the ball flies. Roar, from the fans of Blues. Penalty saved.
Head down, hands on hips, “Damn! I’ll probably stay on to redeem myself.” If that’s the reflection, probably it’s a half-full glass.
Ronaldo walks back to the circle. Score remains at 2-2, with Chelsea given a chance to take the lead.
“For you, Mom, “ a probable Frank Lampard’s thought as his turn comes up. He scores. Van der Sar never seem likely to produce a save. Looking at the sky, he reaches out his hand towards it, along with a silent prayer. Advantage Chelsea, 3-2.
Owen Hargreaves equaliser follows. Only for Ashley Cole to take back the advantage. Score: 4-3.
Everybody is holding his breath as Nani steps up. Moment of truth. You can almost hear a pin drops, almost. Score, the game goes on. Save, the game ends. He scores. 4-4.
John Terry steps up to an opposite scenario. Score, the game ends. Save, the game goes on. One step forwards, two steps, three steps, slip … the ball hits the post. Probably by the similar divine intervention to Lampard’s goal, Terry’s did not get a favourable response. This time the divine one’s wearing red. The slip bears similarity to the one by another ex-England captain, David Beckham, though now the miss would put the captain arm-band a bit further from his reach.
Heartbreak all round for those wearing blues. Terry cries.
Score remains at 4-4. Back to square one.
The substitutes show their mettle as both Andersen and Kalou scores from the spot. 5-5. It seems the nerve-wrecking exercise’s going to continue for a while.
The man who equaled the appearance record 10 days ago for MU, and scored, is next. Ryan Giggs has now gone one better and break the appearance record. Now can he score, though? Experience counts. He scores for MU to go ahead. 6-5.
Chelsea new boy who joined mid-term, Nicholas Anelka, steps up. Now, is he blue enough to feel the pressure generating from expectation of millions of Chelsea's fans, or is he not blue enough to to carry out his task indifferently, coolly and professionally?
The seemingly easiness with which Van der Sar lets in the goals would suggest another even score.
This is Football, though. Van der Sar saves.
Crowd erupts. Fist punching, head hanging, bodies jumping up and down, bodies slumping to the ground, joy and sorrow all round. The European champion is born in the middle of a Russian downpour. And they are wearing reds.