Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hargreaves energy ensures United see off Roma...

Manchester United secured their passage into the semi-finals of the Champions League last night, winning one-nil and three-nil on aggregate. Carlos Tevez scored the killer goal from a superb Owen Hagreaves cross from the right wing.

The former Bayern Munich star was the outstanding player on the night, having not played that much football of late, he was bursting with energy and was unlucky not to score on a couple of occasions.

Hargreaves has a reputation for being a defensive midfield player, but against Roma he showed that he there's a lot more to his game, when creating chances for others by supplying superb crosses or else making lung busting runs in the mode of Red legend Bryan Robson.

Over the last week there's been some stories in the press suggesting that one of the reasons Hargreaves hasn't figured so much in the Reds starting line-up of late is down to the player being reprimanded by Ferguson for poor time-keeping.

United fans will be hoping that both player and manager have patched things up regarding any spat, because it was most definitely a case of Hargreaves making a perfectly timed comeback against Roma, it was a performance that will certainly give his manager a lot to think about where future selection matters are concerned.

To the consternation of many, the Reds had started the game sans Rooney and Ronaldo. Was Ferguson taking Roma for granted, resting on his laurels with a two-nil advantage? It certainly seemed that way and somewhat controversially at the other end Rio Ferdinand started the game when it was thought he might be out injured after suffering with a bruised foot sustained against 'Boro on Sunday.

However, concerns over Ferguson's selection quickly seemed to be unfounded as from the off United took the game to Roma and could have been three up after 20 minutes with Giggs, Park and Hargreaves all having chances to score.

Then on 29 minutes the Norwegian referee was conned into giving the visitors a ridiculously soft penalty when Wes Brown was judged to have fouled Mancini inside the United penalty area. Thankfully, Daniele de Rossi smashed the resulting spot-kick high into the Stretford End, justice had been done. That miss by the Italian international could have been a turning point and then questions about leaving out Ronaldo and Rooney could have come back to haunt Ferguson.

The penalty award seemed to knock United completely out of their collective stride, as they failed to put their game together until the second half as Roma gained in gained confidence. While the game didn't turn out to be one of those great Old Trafford European nights, it was a decent game to watch with both teams missing opportunities to score.

The killer blow finally arrived on 70 minutes and once again it was Hargreaves who had opened up the Roma defence with an arching cross from the right wing, Carlos Tevez dived bravely to expertly head home giving Doni no chance.

Rooney and O'Shea came on for Carrick and Giggs on 74 minutes and to the delight of the Old Trafford crowd Gary Neville came on for a late cameo role in central midfield when replacing Anderson on 84 minutes.

After the game Ferguson, who was no doubt very relieved that his selection had proven to be vindicated, said that he believed this United team is much stronger in terms of energy levels when compared to last season. The manager pointed out that prior to the Reds semi-final visit to the San Siro, Milan rested no less than eight players the previous weekend.

While Ferguson is absolutely correct about the squad being much stronger this season,
United's striker department is lacking in depth and with Arsenal next up on the horizon at Old Trafford on Sunday; the big-guns will surely be restored for a game that will no doubt be incident packed.

The semi-finals with Barcelona should be a bit special. Bring it on.


  1. Park played a class match, resting Ronaldo is key for the remaining games. Hargreaves is shaping up to be a strong right-midfield player, continuing his brilliant performances from the game at Middlesborough when he gave Rooney a similar cross to what he gave Tevez.

    Terrible finishing by United, Ferguson should give the squad much more attacking training in the 18 yard area of the opponent to ensure all midfielders know where the goal is, Hargreaves and Park could have scored easily with more composure in front of goal.

  2. "Ferguson should give the squad much more attacking training in the 18 yard area of the opponent to ensure all midfielders know where the goal is"

    I second to you. No doubt that our attacking are all over the places, but we are always missing chances.

    PS: Irony is, our team enjoying the highest goal scored in BPL. Bam !


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