With three of the four ties virtually done and dusted, the second leg of the Champions League Quarter Finals were more about pride and honour for the teams on the wrong end of the thrashing in the first leg. However, as it turned out, the victors from the first leg were in no mood to relax and stamped their authority on the opposition by winning the second leg as well.
Chelsea’s thirst for a European Cup couldn’t be quenched, as a brilliant all-round performance from Alex Ferguson’s men knocked out the Londoners. Roman’s millions haven’t yet brought him the elusive Champions League title, emphasizing that somethings are still priceless.
Game Of The Matchday
Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea
Out of all the ties, this was closest to being balanced, despite United going into the game with an unexpected 1-0 lead. While United needing just a draw, Chelsea had to win to remain on track of fulfilling their owners ‘Obsession‘. The match began with Chelsea being the dominant of the two teams and had it not been for some last ditch defending from United and poor finishing by Lampard, Chelsea would have had taken an early lead. However, with chances gone begging, United clawed their way back into the game and doubled their aggregate lead, just at the stroke of half-time, with Hernandez rounding off a wonderful move for the home side.
The second half began much like the first with Chelsea dominating possession, led by substitute Didier Drogba, who caused problems for United defence. Ramires was sent off mid-way through the second half for collecting his second yellow card for a reckless challenge on Nani. The ten men though were still not out, as Cheslea came back into the tie through Drogba, who scored in the 75th minute. But it was going to be a red letter day, as United scored straight from the kick-off through Park-Ji-Sung, sending the Old Trafford wild and sealing the semifinal berth in the process.
Player Of The Matchday
Raul Gonzalez (Schalke 04)
The striker was a constant nemesis for Inter Milan, for a second week in a row, as his movement and link-up play was a trouble for their defence all night long. The ex-Madrid striker also scored for the home side, with a sublime finish, that has been associated with Raul over the years. The goal was also Raul’s 71st in 142 UCL games and also his 18th in the knock-out stages that puts him level with Shevchenko. With two more games against Manchester United to come in the semis, Raul could well go past the Ukrainian.
Goal Of The Matchday
Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)
The little magician was at it once again, as his superbly taken goal in the first half proved to be the winner in the end. Messi received the ball from Alves on the edge of the area and skipped past two defenders in his trademark fashion before side-footing the ball into the net. The shame of it all was the fact that it was scored by Messi and the whole world expect him to do such things. It was a landmark goal as well, as it enabled Messi to surpass the club record of 47 goals in a single season set by ‘El Phenomenon‘ during his brilliant 96-97 season at Camp Nou and also his own record of the same number of goals last season. With seven weeks of the season still remaining. the Argentine is well on his way to set a benchmark which would be improbable to even emulate, surpassing which seems out of question.
Assist Of The Matchday
Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)
The veteran was once again in the thick of things for Manchester United. After having a quiet first half, Giggs burst into life after picking up a great reverse pass from John O’ Shea on the right hand side and charged into the box leaving Anelka on his heels. With Rooney and Hernadez in the middle, Giggs played a sumptuous ball across the goal taking the goalkeeper out of the equation enabling Chicharito to tap it into an empty net.
Giggs also had an assist later on in the game, as his wonderful ball over the top for Park-Ji-Sung, helped United seal the tie and making it three out of three assists for the Welshman over the two legs.
Miss Of The Matchday
Marcelo Moreno (Shakhtar Donetsk)
With the tie out of the reach, Shakhtar was hoping to salvage a draw against the mighty FC Barcelona and had a superb chance in the dying moments of the match that fell to Moreno. After some great work down the right hand side, Vyacheslav Shevchuk delivered a pin point cross towards onrushing Moreno but the Bolivian volleyed his effort wide from six yards out.
Blooper Of The Matchday
‘Horrendous‘ Gomes (Tottenham)
The goalkeeper has a tendency of showcasing the extremes, but unfortunately for Spurs, he brought out the worst in him at one of the biggest nights at the White Hart Lane. With the tie virtually lost, Spurs fans were dwelling in the moment, as 9 times European champions Real Madrid were the visitors. However, Gomes was certainly not up to it, as his dreadful error gave Madrid the lead and took the sting out of the Spurs’ players. On the 50th minute, Christiano Ronaldo hit a speculative yet powerful shot from almost 30 yards out, but the Tottenham keeper only put forward weak hands, as if to thwart mosquitoes away. The ball hit the hands, bounced and rolled in the net crushing the home side’s dream of getting anything out of the game. Gomes’ howler was straight out of the Manuel Almunia book of goalkeeping, probably gearing up for the North London derby in the coming weeks.
Tackle Of The Matchday
Edwin Van Der Sar (Manchester United)
The Dutchman is known to be one of the best keepers with the ball at his feet and he proved it once again against Chelsea with a textbook challenge on Nicolas Anelka. The 40 year old, on first look, seemed to have made a mistake when he decided to come out of his area to close down Anelka, but he rectified his error with one of the most brilliant tackles – one that Rio Ferdinand would have been proud of – to take the ball away from Anelka and clear it into touch.
Controversy Of The Matchday
Fernando Torres’ Selection
The fifty million pound man has been in awful form to say the least and is yet to score for his new club. Yet his selection in the starting line-up, ahead of Drogba, once again raised the question of Roman Abramovich having his say in the team’s selection. The striker once again put out a jaded performance in the first half, only to be substituted at the restart. His replacement – Didier Drogba created problems for United and also scored a goal in the second half magnifying the error made by Ancelotti or who so ever it may be.
What Did They Say About “Knocked The Stuffing Out”?
Well, Park-Ji-Sung did exactly that to Chelsea, who had scored in the 75th minute which was supposed to be the making of a nervous and nail biting last fifteen minutes at the Old Trafford. But it was not to be, as Manchester United attacked straight from the kick-off with Ryan Giggs playing a killer ball towards Park. The South Korean made use of the ample time for him in the Chelsea box as he controlled and fired in a left footed shot past the Chelsea keeper and into the net. Ancelotti’s side never recovered from the blow, as their shoulders dropped and made way for a comfortable last quarter of an hour for United.
Team Of The Week
Valdes (FC Barcelona), Alves (FC Barcelona), Ferdinand (Manchester United), Höwedes (Schalke 04), Adriano (FC Barcelona), Xavi (FC Barcelona), Giggs (Manchester United), Rooney (Manchester United), Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Messi (FC Barcelona), Raul (Schalke 04)