Continued from page 1

But that cynicism must be kept in check, too. Although suspicion without proof may be understandable, it also is unfair and will ruin our enjoyment if we let it take hold.

Yes, it was amazing that everything happened just as it needed to for Lyon on Wednesday night. To advance to the last 16 of the Champions League, Lyon needed both a deluge of goals against Dinamo and for Ajax to lose the other Group D game against Real Madrid.

Yes, it was surprising the unlikely scenario actually unfolded.

But aren’t surprising and amazing why we watch sports?

By themselves, they do not have to mean that a 7-1 scoreline must be too good to be true.

Nor did the wink that Dinamo defender Domagoj Vida appeared to direct at Bafetimbi Gomis as he helped the Lyon forward pluck the ball out of the net after the French team’s fifth goal constitute proof of anything. It should, in fairness to all those who sweat and work so hard in sports, take far more than that to get fans tweeting.

Still, admittedly, between doping and fixing, it is getting harder to cling on to the ability to believe in the unbelievable that one needs to enjoy the unlikely feats sports can offer.

Lyon can blame the likes of Sapina, Cvrtak and Perumal for that.

Because of such thieves of innocence, we say “Bravo!” and “Really?” at the same time.

Sad for us all.


John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at) or follow him at