Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Manchester United booked a Champions League final,Players Rating,Alex Ferguson Words,

Manchester United booked a Champions League final encounter with Barcelona at Wembley after a 4-1 win over Schalke ensured a 6-1 aggregate success.

First-half goals from Antonio Valencia and Darron Gibson ensured there was no way back for Schalke, who were already two goals down from the first leg, and a late double from Anderson completed a handsome victory.
For Gibson in particular it represented a fitting riposte to the critics who forced him off Twitter last week after spending barely two hours exposed to a demanding public.
And Ferguson got exactly what he wanted too, namely the chance of revenge over Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, who was watching from the stands, for that one-sided encounter in Rome.
But crucially, he also kept all his main players fresh for the visit of Carlo Ancelotti's side, who will seize top spot with two games left if they win.
Eight changes from the weekend defeat at Arsenal was not so much a calculated gamble as a starting line-up born out of necessity from a manager who simply could not afford to risk injury.
As a result, Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand found themselves in the unusual position of not being required at all for a semi-final decider in club football's biggest competition, while four more key men started on the bench.
Ferguson must have factored into his thinking that the Germans simply could not be as bad as they were on home soil eight days ago.
They were certainly more solid in the opening stages, as was Gibson's stomach as he took an accidental kick from Jefferson Farfan.
United had an early chance to settle the tie when Dimitar Berbatov wriggled into space with some deft skill by the dead ball line, only to allow Manuel Neuer to intercept his cross as Antonio Valencia waited for a tap-in.
Chris Smalling was similarly frustrated the next time Berbatov found himself with a crossing opportunity.
The nervousness soon disappeared though as Anderson quickly switched a stray pass into Gibson's path.
He picked out Valencia and, unlike last week, United did not need 11 chances before finding the net as the Ecuadorian sent his precise effort through Neuer's legs.
Ferguson celebrated with the gusto of a man who felt the tie was over, his total confidence in a squad so many have doubted vindicated once more.
Within five minutes United had their second. The same three players were involved again too as Anderson used his strength to provide Valencia with a return pass.
He rolled the ball into Gibson's path, although the Irishman would be the first to admit he benefited from a huge slice of good fortune as Neuer inexplicably fumbled, proving he is not perfect after all given last week's heroics.
It was simply unthinkable that United might lose a four-goal advantage, but Jose Jurado gave them something to ponder almost immediately when he profited from back-to-back errors by Smalling and Rafael.
To follow the burst of goals, three yellow cards were dished out with even greater speed, condemning United's entire central midfield trio to walk a disciplinary tightrope for the remainder of the game.
The most vulnerable of the three was obviously Paul Scholes, who collected his caution for failing to retreat at a free-kick rather than one of his trademark wild tackles.
But tonight there was never any danger of the 36-year-old overstepping the mark.
Gibson had already made a positive impact, as had Anderson. The Brazilian is still bedevilled by inconsistent performances, but this was a good one.
He even managed to do something he has never managed during his entire time at United, score twice in a game.
His first was due to his persistence, firing home with a shot on the turn after he had been crowded out of his first attempt to finish Nani's low cross.
The second was a tap-in thanks to Berbatov's unselfish square ball.
With Darren Fletcher returning after two months out and no-one suspended for the final, everything had gone right for Ferguson and his team.
But the true test this week will come from another team in blue, desperate to retain their title and thirsting for revenge at being eliminated from this very competition at the quarter-final stage.

Manchester United's 4-1 win over Schalke. Find out who was the star of the show!Manchester United
Edwin van der Sar - 7
Didn't have much to do but showed safe hands when called into action. Could not do much about Jurado's stunning effort.
Rafael (off 60') - 6.5
Made a couple of ill-timed challenges. Was substituted on the hour mark, undoubtedly to avoid a repeat of last season's sending off against Bayern Munich.
Chris Smalling - 8
Excellent showing from the young centre-back. Kept Raul at bay all night long and was unbeatable in the air.
Jonny Evans - 7
Much better than recent games, but you get the feeling he is way down the pecking order when it comes to the defenders at United. Made a couple of well-timed challenges.
John O'Shea - 8
Another understated performance from the under-rated defender. Constantly supported the wingers down either flank. An performance worthy of the captaincy on the night.
Antonio Valencia - 9 (Man-of-the-match)
It is easy to see how much United missed when he was out with injury for much of the season. Adds a different dimension to the attack with his pace down the right. Opened the scoring with a composed finish, and regularly found space in behind the Schalke defence.
Anderson - 8
It seems unfair that Anderson gets such a rating considering he scored two goals. However, he didn't contribute much apart from finding the back of the net twice. Still, the Brazilian can be pleased with his performance.
Darron Gibson - 7.5
Got United's second with a trademark cracker of a shot. Worked hard all night long, and will have done his chances of establishing himself in the first team no harm at all.
Paul Scholes (off 73') - 8.5
The most creative influence on the park. Constantly retained possession for United and looked to initiate proceedings with his range of passing. Did, however, get an unnecessary booking for pushing Schalke players while defending a free-kick.
Nani - 8
Gave Atsuto Uchida a headache all night long, but often dwelled on the ball far too long, when a quick pass would have released a team-mate in an advanced position.
Dimitar Berbatov (on 77') - 8
Didn't see much of the ball as he was under the dual attention of Christoph Metzelder and Benedikt Howedes. However, Berbatov made his touches count, laying off an assist for Anderson for United's fourth.
Patrice Evra (on 60') - 7
Bombed down the left flank in trademark fashion, but gave away the ball a number of times. Also received an earful from Nani for intercepting a pass which was meant for another team-mate at the edge of the box.
Darren Fletcher (on 73') - 6.5
A successful comeback from his injury layoff. Wasn't sighted much, but kept possession well with short, simple passes.
Michael Owen (on 77') - 6.5
Didn't have much time to show his worth but came close to scoring with a curling effort that Manuel Neuer did well to keep out.
Manuel Neuer - 7.5
Clearly at fault for a couple of United goals which he should have gotten a firmer hand to. However, the German first choice keeper once again kept the scoreline from being more respectable than it could have been.
Atsuto Uchida - 6.5
A tough one to call. Uchida never gave up, and at times seemed to be playing both right-back and right-wing. However, his distribution was poor, and he often passed the ball straight to a red shirt.
Benedikt Howedes (off 70') - 7
Strong presence at the heart of the Schalke defence. Berbatov hardly got a sniff at the ball under his close attentions.
Christoph Metzelder - 6
As the most experienced member of the back four, Metzelder should have organised this defence better. Instead, most of United's goals came from instances when the Schalke defence were in complete disarray.
Sergio Escudero - 7
Workman-like performance from the left-back, but he was caught out cold by Antonio Valencia's pace. Still, a composed performance from the stylish defender.
Kyriakos Papadopoulos - 6.5
Has had better games but the young Greek still looks set to have a great career. Was more than capable of matching his more experienced opponents in physicality, but was perhaps found wanting at times due to his lack of experience.
Jose Manuel Jurado - 8
Excellent game from Schalke's dimunitive player. Like Paul Scholes for United, Jurado was constantly trying to create opportunities for his side. Provided the only blemish on United's night with a blistering effort which Edwin van der Sar had no chance of saving.
Jefferson Farfan (off 75') - 6.5
Started brightly but drifted out of the game. Really should have troubled John O'Shea more with his pace and skill.
Alexander Baumjohann (off 46') - 6.5
Never failed to truly get into the game. Made a number of threatening runs but struggled to create much and made way for Edu after half-time.
Julian Draxler - 7.5
Like Papadopoulos, another youngster that showed no signs of being overawed by the occasion. Got the better of his opponent on a number of occasions with his quick feet, and excelled in the free role given to him.
Raul - 7
Raul might be disappointed by what looks like his last Champions League appearance ever, but he should take heart from the effort he showed on the pitch. Made a mockery of his senior-citizen status by constantly dropping deep to receive the ball, while some of his team-mates just stood still. Outstanding work rate.
Edu (on 46') - 6.5
Perhaps should have started the game. United's defence had a reasonably comfortable time in the first half with Schalke only playing one striker, but Jonny Evans was certainly troubled after the introduction of the robust Brazilian. Bullied his opponent with his strength, and was more than capable of a blistering effort.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (on 70') - 5
Should have scored after having a goal wrongly ruled out for offside. However, apart from that, Huntelaar hardly touched the ball.
Joel Matip (on 75') - N/A
Came on late in the game to prevent United from making the scoreline embarassing but did not really have enough time to make an impact.

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was proud of his side's Champions League semi-final second-leg win over Schalke.
United won 4-1 on the night and 6-1 on aggregate to secure a Wembley final showdown with Barcelona as Antonio Valencia, Darron Gibson and Anderson (2) all scoring for the home team.
That was despite Ferguson fielding a much-changed team in order to keep players fresh for Sunday's Premier League blockbuster against Chelsea.
The Scot admitted he had some doubts about his team selection but was delighted with the performance from his second-string squad.
"They did me proud," he told ITV1. "It was a semi-final and the fact it's such an important game does create a bit of doubt in your mind of 'Am I doing the right thing?' but I'm glad we were vindicated.
"It's fantastic for the club. We're where we want to be. I've said many times we should have done better in Europe over the years and I think this team can win the cup."
Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who will retire this summer, told ITV1: "It was perfect, after the first leg we were quite well set up to be able to make changes and keep the majority of players fresh for the big game on Sunday.
"We saw how emotional Barcelona were yesterday and maybe our reaction was a bit more subdued but Barca's was because they have a big rivalry (against Real Madrid).
"Barcelona play exceptionally good football and of course it's going to be difficult, they showed that in the final in 2009. We have to show we learned the lesson from that one and be better prepared."
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