You can never tell when you're watching a game that you'll remember in five, ten years. You never just decide to sit down and watch it--well, unless your side is in the final of some competition, and even then you might forget if they lose. No, it's almost impossible to predict.
Barcelona triumphed over a stunned Sevilla side 2-3 this evening in Seville, rallying back from two goals down to tie and then win in the last seven minutes of play. It's a beautiful narrative: the blaugrana bravely fighting back, refusing to quit even when nothing seemed to be going their way. Yes, it's a stirring tale of courage; but it's not true. Well, at least it's not so rose-colored.
Sevilla played a magnificent game tonight. They went ahead in the first half on a smashed shot by Trochowski in the 23rd minute. They matched Barcelona ball-for-ball for good chunks of the game, spearheading a strong defense-counterattack regime that has worked well over the past couple of years. When Álvaro Negredo culminated a brilliant counter-attack in the 48th minute with a golazo of his own, Sevilla looked again like the dominant club it had been a few years ago.
But then things started to go wrong for them. And for the referees.
In the 53rd minute Cesc drew the blaugrana closer, as he scooped up a ball bouncing towards the top of the area, and slotted it past keeper Palop. It was a good display of skill from a player whose absence has been conspicuous in recent weeks. He was Barça's main focus during the game, combining well with Leo Messi, who seemed a bit out of touch on the whole.
Then, in the 72nd minute, with Sevilla leading 2-1, things got ugly. Sevilla's Chilean midfielder Gary Medel walked over to Cesc, head down. He was clearly saying something unpleasant to the Catalan goalscorer, and clearly meant to get in his face. As soon as Medel approached touching distance, Cesc did something he has done only a few times: he simulated. Clutched at his face. Cheated. It was a helluva performance--though, surprisingly, he didn't fall down. Here's a picture of the incident, where you can see Medel's head and Cesc's face--this was no Zidane headbutt, people.
Mateu Lahoz, in one of his worst performances, rushed over and immediately gave Medel a red card.
Suddenly, the game was blown wide open.
Within minutes, with Sevilla hanging on for dear life, another tragedy struck the Andalusians: Thiago, in the process of stealing a ball from a Sevilla defender, handled it in the area. No call. The ball bounced to Messi, then to Cesc, who tied the score. The Sánchez Pizjuán went nuts. I haven't seem people that incensed in a long time. It was nonsense. Sevilla coach Míchel was so angry that he almost rushed Lahoz--he was expelled.
Then, with everything trending down for Sevilla, David Villa scored the winner--in the 94th minute. It was a nice goal, and not entirely undeserved from the game (Barça's a very good team), but it still seemed desperately unfair.
But that's how soccer works. It's rarely fair.