Wednesday's UEFA Cup Quarter Final match between Spanish minnows Getafe CF and German giants FC Bayern Munich will undoubtedly remembered as the greatest game of this years European tournament. In fact, this game may even go down as one of the greatest UEFA Cup games of all time. Simply put--it was that great.
Madrid is an internationally recognized football city. Real and Atletico Madrid are high caliber, top-class La Liga teams in the Spanish capital. But on Wednesday April 10th the only team that mattered in Madrid was Getafe CF. The team hailing from a Spanish suburb is not unknown in Spain but barely recognizable by most football fans.
In 2004-2005 Getafe made the leap from Segunda to La Liga for the first time. In 3 short season the team managed to climb it's way to 9th in Spain--in spot under the qualification for UEFA. But managed to secure a spot in the European tournament by defeating FC Barcelona despite being down 5-2 in the away leg. In the return leg game the "other Madird" team was able to crush Spanish icon's Barcelona 4-0. Yes... You are reading this correctly: 4-0 for Getafe FC over FC Barcelona... YES! The Barcelona with Ronaldinho.
With 4 Champion's League trophies, 1 UEFA Cup title, 13 German Cups and 20 national titles in Germany, FC Bayern Munich are a team that need to introduction. But since I'm an avid fan I don't mind listng just a few of those accomplishments. Bayern led the previous game 1-0 from a brilliant strike from Luca Toni in the 26th game. Bayern seemed comfortable controlling the pace of the game and enjoyed a marginal lead. Perhaps this touch of complacency is what lead Getafe to recover the impending loss with a late goal in extra time to ensure a tie. This meant Bayern needed a win or at tie with more away goals in Spain to move on in UEFA.
Fast-forward to last night. 16 000 fans packed the Coliseum Alfonso Perez to watch home town heroes Getafe take-on Germany's finest in Bayern Munich. The luck enjoyed by Getafe in the first game could spoil Bayern's chances at another UEFA Cup. 6 minutes into the game Franck Ribery of Bayern fired a shot that pinged off the uprights moments after Getafe's de la Red was ejected from the game by referee Busacca of Switzerland. Getafe was down to 10 men and Bayern began peppering the Spanish net with shots. At the 8 minute mark, Luca Toni was denied a goal as it was called back by the Swiss official.
Moments before the break, Getafe's Contra of Romania blew past 3 Bayern players and fired a right-footed shot from 12 feet that sailed past veteran keeper Oliver Kahn. When the first half whistle blew, Bayern was down 1-0. The next goal would not come, once again, until the dying minutes of the half. With Bayern down a goal and facing elimination from UEFA French international Franck Ribery would not be denied a second time with a goal against Getafe off a Toni volley. The game was going to extra time.
The goals would not take long to arrive for Getafe. Casquero fired a cracker from 20 yards out to secure the Spaniards a commanding lead moments into additional time. 2 minutes later the Spaniard increased their lead a second time with a sharp angle goal from Braulio. Bayern were going down on a sinking ship and seemed destined to miss out in this years UEFA Cup semis. The tournament favourites were facing elimination to a no-name team from Madrid.
With 5 minutes left in the game fans in the Madrid suburb were busting out the booze as their team would be heading to the UEFA semifinals for the first time in the clubs 60+ year history. But Bayern did not and had not given up. Dutchmen Mark van Bommel fired a shot that slipped off of Getafe and Argentinean international keeper Abbondanzeri and Luca Toni quickly placed the ball in the back of the net. The game was now 3-2 with only 5 minutes left for the German giants to equalize.
At the 120th minute mark with time quickly fading along with Bayern's chance of European glory the third and final Bayern goal arrived. Veteran Bayern captain Oliver Kahn charged down the field to cause trouble in the Spanish box and sacrificing an open Bavarian net. Sosa of Bayern fired in a hopeful last ditch cross into the Getafe box. Out of the crowd of bodies emerged what appeared to be a giant... It was 6'4 Italian marks man Luca Toni who had netted a goal just moments earlier. The man from Modena rose above all others and headed a shot into the directions of the Getfae net.... time stood still and then jubilation from the Bayern touchline. Toni had scored.
The equalizer meant the series was an even 4-4 for the two sides. But with 4 away goals to Getafe CFs 1, Bayern secured a spot in the UEAF Cup semi finals to face Russian leaders Zenit St. Petersburg. This game had drama, passion, excitement and goals aplenty. This was the beautiful game at it's finest. This is what football is all about.