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Ecstasy, Agony, And Thuggery In This Week’s Soccer Action

Cristiano Ronaldo’s in the dark, Jonjo Shelvey has a great name, and John Terry’s quitting.

1. GAME OF THE WEEK: Manchester United vs. Liverpool in a cauldron of raw emotion.

Michael Regan / Getty Images

Liverpool fans hold up a mosiac tribute to the Hillsborough disaster.

Liverpool may have slipped from the ranks of the traditional “big four” in England, but there is still no bigger club rivalry in the country than Liverpool-Manchester United. They’re still the two most successful teams historically, and there’s been some bad blood brewing over the last few weeks, which have been particularly devastating for Liverpool.

If you don’t follow soccer closely, you probably have never heard of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, when a crowd crush at an overpacked stadium took the lives of 96 Liverpool fans. For years after the disaster, local police laid blame for the incident on the fans involved, but a recently released report of an independent panel exonerated the victims. The disaster is a seminal moment in Liverpool’s history, and emotions were running high with such deep wounds reopened.

Phil Noble / Reuters

Former Manchester United player Bobby Charlton holds 96 red roses in memory of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster in a pre-game ceremony.

Groups of Manchester United fans have done their part to stoke the fire between the two sides by disrespecting victims of the tragedy at every turn. During a home game in Manchester last week, fans chanted “Always the victims, never your fault,” in reference to Liverpool supporters, causing a disturbed Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, to send an email this week telling United fans to behave themselves.

Here’s how the game went, in 3 GIFS and a video:

5. 39th minute: Jonjo Shelvey (yes, that is his real name) gets a straight red card.

Liverpool dominated the game for the opening half hour and should have gone ahead, but didn’t convert — and then Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey was sent off for this dangerous tackle on Jonny Evans.

6. 46th minute: Steven Gerrard makes it 1-0 Liverpool.

They were still able to put a goal up a few minutes later, a moment that was (temporarily) massive for an entire city. Steven Gerrard, Liverpool’s talismanic midfielder, put a team desperate for a win ahead with this goal. Liverpool fans erupted in the stands, likely feeling the first moment of pure bliss all season long. Gerrard gets extra points for controlling the ball expertly with his chest and his typical bonkers celebration. He always reacts like a homeless person who simultaneously won the lottery AND got an iPhone 5 without waiting in line.

7. 51st minute: Rafael equalizes.

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Immediately after going down 1-0, United finally woke up and began to play. Shinji Kagawa’s feed to Rafael was perfect, and the Brazilian scored the best goal of his career — from a near-impossible angle. Goal of the week candidate.

8. 81st minute: Robin van Persie scores a penalty, Man United wins 2-1.

Liverpool’s Glen Johnson took down Antonio Valencia in the penalty box, setting up van Persie to score his league-leading fifth goal of the year.

The aftermath: Liverpool now has zero wins, two draws and three losses in its first five Premier League games. That’s the worst start for the club since the year before the Titanic sailed. Manchester United has now won four straight after a loss in the opener to Everton, and is just one point shy of Chelsea at the top of the standings. And United fans mocked the Hillsborough victims again, remaining behind after the match to chant “murderers!

10. GOAL OF THE WEEK: Xavi vs. Granada.

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Commentator Ray Hudson said that Xavi “caressed” it into the post. That’s about right. Xavi’s goal with three minutes left to play and an own-goal two minutes into stoppage saved Barcelona’s perfect start to its La Liga campaign.

HONORABLE MENTION: Bayern Munich’s Thomas Müller makes Schalke defenders look very, very foolish.

11. HOOLIGANS OF THE WEEK: The floodlight saboteurs that postponed the Real Madrid-Rayo Vallecano match.

Real Madrid’s La Liga game with Rayo Vallecano had to be postponed until today because apparently a group of saboteurs cut a bunch of electrical cables, leaving the Estadio de Vallecas in the dark. The culprits and their motivations still haven’t been identified.

12. WEIRD REVELATION OF THE WEEK: Patrice Evra drinks through his eye.

Phil Noble / Reuters

13. LANCE ARMSTRONG OF THE WEEK: John Terry, who retired from international competition.

Eddie Keogh / Reuters

Former England captain John Terry has officially retired from international competition as England’s Football Association continues to investigate the racial abuse incident between Terry and QPR’s Anton Ferdinand. Terry was cleared of criminal charges for allegedly calling Ferdinand a “black cunt,” but the F.A. is considering a disciplinary charge that could result in a long ban for the current Chelsea captain. The ban would apply to all games, not just international ones, but Terry appears to be taking an Armstrong-like route of hoping that a pre-emptive half-surrender will put out the PR fire. It could be a win-win for England fans, who are probably sick of hearing about Terry and sick of watching him play given how inconsistent he’s become as he gets older.

HONORABLE MENTION: A.C. Milan lost its third game out of four in the Serie A in a 2-1 away defeat to Udinese. If you look through Italian headlines (go ahead, try La Repubblica), there’s a 70% chance you see the words “Milan” and “crisi” (meaning: crisis) in the same sentence.

15. AMERICAN OF THE WEEK: Goalkeeper Brad Friedel

Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

This August Tottenham Hotspur signed French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, the No. 1 for the French national team, to be an eventual replacement for the 41-year-old Friedel. Lloris was pissed that he wasn’t immediately given the starting job and openly criticized manager Andre Villas-Boas. In response, Friedel has been brilliant in the Premier League, and likely saved Tottenham from an embarrassing draw with his saves against QPR this weekend.

16. DID FERNANDO TORRES SCORE THIS WEEK? No.

Nigel Roddis / Reuters

At BuzzFeed, we like a good comedy. The Fernando Torres Story is one of our favorites. (The other is Wild Hogs.)

Amount Chelsea paid to buy Torres: £50 million

Goals for Chelsea in all competitions: 15, none this week.

Price per goal: £3.33 million

17. CURRENT STANDINGS: The Premier League (left) and La Liga (right).

Check out more articles on BuzzFeed.com!

BuzzFeed Sports Intern, understudy to Jeff Van Gundy.
 
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