Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Reds victorious in five goal thriller...

Despite being without our first choice back four and having no less than six first team regulars out through injury, United came through the first leg of their Champions League semi-final with flying colours against a well organised and experienced Milan team and deservedly ran out 3-2 winners on a night of high drama at Old Trafford.

Going into the game many fans like myself feared what might happen if Milan took the game to us, with United having so many defenders out. Those fears were realised but not before the Reds had taken an early lead from a corner when Ronaldo's brilliant glancing header beat Dida who could only help the ball on its way into the back of the net to send the Red Army into raptures. At that point we hoped it was going to be a seven goal trouncing of another Italian side. But that was never going to happen against Milan with all their European experience, and it wasn't long before United's back four was being tested by the probing runs of the brilliant Brazilian Kaka.

It came as little surprise when it was Kaka who brought Milan back into the game, he collected ball outside the United penalty area midway through the first half, his surging run left first Heinze sprawling on the floor and then his sliderule like shot into the corner of the net left Edwin Van der Sar stranded as the big Dutchman could only stand and watch as the ball flew past him to make it 1-1.

Worse was to follow on 37 minutes when once again Kaka took on the whole of the Reds back four, the Brazilian flicked the ball inside over the head of a United defender and in doing so he panicked Patrice Evra into what can only be described as Keystone Cops moment when he crashed into team-mate Heinze allowing Kaka a free shot on goal, which he finished clinically. United were really up against it now.

At half time Maldini was replaced because of injury, but Milan still had the better of the early exchanges and the Lions share of possession, that was until Gattuso was replaced through injury on 52 minutes. Gattuso had worked tirelessly charging about like the Tasmanian Devil, he'd incurred the wrath of the home fans because he looked as though he was play acting for time on a couple of occasions, which is of course all apart of the game at this level.

Once Gattuso had gone off the Reds took more or less complete control of midfield with Scholes and Carrick coming into their own, and it came as no surprise when Rooney scored on 59 minutes after Scholes had worked some magic on the edge of the Milan box flicking the ball over a defender and into the path of the England striker whose shot beat Dida. It was a brilliant goal.

The rest of the half was pretty much attack and defence as Dida denied Fletcher and Ronaldo, but right at the death just when it looked for all the world that it was going to end in a draw, United won the ball back on the half-way line and Giggs's surging run found Rooney who raced deep into the Milan half before lacing a wicked drive past the startled Dida and into the back of the net. It was a goal worthy of winning any match and one which will give United confidence going into next week's return leg in Milan.

The win means that United have now scored 11 goals in their last three Champions League games, which really is quite something against Italian teams.

Man of the match Rooney. For my money, Fletcher had a very good game too. Despite all of his problems with injuries Ferguson got his tactics spot-on and we haven't always said that in Europe. Going into the game the manager had also made light of the injury problems, that was another piece of brilliant man management and so again credit to Fergie.

1 comment:

  1. truly, an extraordinary victory, but it only illustratedthe fighting spirit, and the magic that Manchester United have carried this season due to so many complicated causes, despite a comprehensive set of blows. A truly extraordinary season, with hopefully truly extraordinary results.


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