Well done Manchester United!
A stellar performance from Fergie's boys last night. After watching the gaffer's pre-match talks with Sky News earlier in the day he seemed a tad bit uneasy when questioned about his teams chances of making it to the final. In contrast his mood seemed to have changed just before the 2nd half, and why not. After all his old workhorse and midfield magician, Paul Scholes, struck the winner in the 14th minute after the early nerves his team suffered from the Barcelona blitz. And a blitz it was in the opening exchanges as a wet pitch seemed to work against the United rushed defence and closing down tactics.
But they soon took control of things and made the Barcelona defense work hard all night. Nani and Park should have scored the second to put the tie beyond doubt, and to also settle the nerves after last season's Champions League semi-final exit. It seemed as if Barcelona would find the killer equaliser after waves of attacks from Messi and Deco. The United defence parked their team bus across the goals, and why not? These are the types of tactics teams use to reach the final. Avram Grant will be trying to do the same when Liverpool visit Stamford Bridge for Wednesday's other semi-final tie. The pundits are hoping for goals galore...wishful thinking.
So on to Moscow to meet either Liverpool or Chelsea for a record all-English Champions League final. I've included my ratings for each player and with a few comments.
footieanalyst.blogspot.com Man-of-the Match - Park Ji Sung
- Van Der Sar - 5 - wasn't convincing
- Evra - 7 - solid as ever
- Brown -7 - Fergie was wise to tie him up on a new contract...and to move him to centre
- Ferdinand - 6 - marshalled his defence well
- Hargreaves - 6 - played out of position but stuck to his task
- Carrick - 6 - not his best performance but kept things ticking over
- Scholes - 6 - got the goal but not as effective
- Tevez - 8 - a workhorse of note
- Park-Ji Sung - 9 - didn't stop running and made life difficult for the Barcelona playmakers
- Ronaldo - 6 - didn't see the ball for the first 10 min...goes missing in the big matches far too often
- Nani - 6 - also worked his socks off
- Silvestre (sub) - 5 - no time to make an impact
- Giggs (sub) - 5 - time to hang up the boots?
- Fletcher (sub) -6 - tried to encourage
- Valdes - 5 - see Van Der Sar
- Zambrotta - 4 - got too involved with trying to man-mark or unsettle Ronaldo
- Abidal - 5 - wayward crossing and wasted opportunities
- Puyol - 6 - kept things together at the back for them
- Milito - 6 - not his best performance but kept things tight at the back
- Toure - 7 - one of their better players on the night with some good passing
- Iniesta - 6 - not effective enough to cause any danger
- Xavi - 6 - midfield dynamo settled in the 2nd half to push for an equaliser
- Deco - 7 - had many chances and should have made them count
- Messi - 8 - ran circles around United and was unlucky to not get a deserved goal
- Eto - 6 - bad first touch in front of goal and lacking confidence
- Henry (sub) - 6 - not the same player that left Arsenal last season, lacking match fitness
- Bojan (sub) - 6 - no sufficient impact but a future star no doubt at 17
- Gudjohnsen - 5 - no time to make any impact