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United Utterly Demolished The European Kings

This was fabulous, make no mistake. Yeah, Milan are ageing, yeah, they practically gave up after Rooney's opener, yeah, their coach made a few puzzling decisions - Seedorf for Bonera, anyone? - but still: this was an utter and complete destruction of the side that has been the best Champions League team of the 2000s.

And all that with Carrick, Brown, O'Shea, Hargreaves, Owen, Anderson and Giggs all out. Despite all the injuries, we made light work of a side containing World Cup winners and players who won the CL on several occasions.

Fergie opted for playing Nani on the left with Park was deployed as an attacking central midfielder, also helping out in defending when it's needed - namely, when Pirlo is in possession as his main task seemed to be to starve the Italian playmaker of the ball.

Gary Neville was a surprise inclusion but he was one of United's best players. He certainly benefitted from the protection given to him by Valencia and Park but he was focused, committed, energetic and generally faultless. It was a marvellous bonus to see his perfect cross finding Rooney who headed home with aplomb with only 13 minutes gone.

Ronaldinho simply could not cope with Neville and he quickly lost his appetite. Without him, Milan who, surviving United's early pressure, wasted two good chances before the opener looked very ordinary indeed. In the first half, United's passing wasn't great, partly because of the absence of Carrick, partly because of the attitude of taking no risks whatsoever. But it paid off although it ruined the game as a spectacle as it degenerated into a scrappy midfield battle without any real chances or quality on show.

Leonardo broke the deadlock by taking off Bonera and introducing Seedorf at the interval. Removing one of the centre-backs when two of them struggled to contain Rooney did not seem a particularly wise idea - especially as Abate had a horrible game on the right, taking him off would have made much more sense - and sure enough, within moments Nani who worked tirelessly in the first half and did plenty of defensive work, intercepted a loose ball and produced a killer pass for Rooney who got there before Abbiati and rolled it home.

2-0 up, it was done and dusted and it became clear that the scoreline depends on United and United only. Because Milan were appalling. The third goal confirmed that: they just stood around and watched as United passed it around in front of their area. When eventually Scholes arrived and threaded a sweet little ball into Park's path I was almost exhausted by the sight of Milan players standing perfectly still. Park, though, did not mind and steered the ball part Abbiati to threaten Milan with a real badass drubbing here, the kind that AS Roma got.

They got away without that, mostly because United stepped off the pedal a little. Milan created a few chances as Vidic and Ferdinand looked rusty and as our players did not exactly display a do-or-die attitude with a 6-2 aggregate lead. But our progress was never in doubt and we should have embellished the scoreline much earlier because Valencia, Nani and the increasingly influential Park ran rings around their hopelessly exposed defence which lacked the class of Nesta and lacked numbers after Bonera's substitution.

In the end, Rafael's fine cross found Fletcher at the back post and he headed home from close range to put the icing on the cake. 4-0, with a brilliantly composed and lethal display, against one of the most experienced of European campaigners. And we could afford to take players off to rest them for a clash against Fulham. I repeat: we took players off against AC Milan to give them a rest ahead of FULHAM. What has the world come to?

A wonderful night, as good as any European night at Old Trafford. Best form at the most important of the season? You bet.

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The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday March 10 2010

Time: 11:20PM

Your Comments

Becks is god!!! That would have been some goal
After we won the champions league we developed a swagger in europe. That was destroyed when we got blown away by Barca last season. However, tonight it returned. Maybe Fergie was right in suggesting the win in the san siro was a real psychological boost. Looking at the teams left, we have a real chance if we can stay relatively injury free. There are no easy games, but outside of barca and chelsea/inter we have to fancy ourselves against anybody else. I was really pleased with park at the head of the midfield three, if he can continue to grow in confidence in the final third he would be one hell of a player. As well as Nani did tonight, he still showed that mentally he isnt quite on the same wavelength as most of our players. If we can find a left winger/forward who can score from the left but also link play and pick out a pass (like ribery but cheaper) then we'll be much stronger next season. With everyone fit we have a fantastic options pretty much everywhere except the left wing.
Also, as much as I still love cristiano and wish him all the best at madrid - there was something slightly sweet about watching him skulk out of the champions league in the first knock out round!
Fanastic performance!! I think Fergie has finally solved the European puzzle, there are only three teams that stand between us and European glory!!
Wonderfully done - thanks for the entertainment.
Wonderfully done - thanks for the entertainment.
Got to be Honest - your lot looked fantastic just keep Rooney fit for the World Cup
Tuscan I agree on the left wing problem,overall a great performance,I was so happy to see Seedorf not starting and with real losing,I mean spending that amount of money and still not being able to go past the round of 16,makes Mr.Perez look like an idiot.
Antriksh (abmtd)
Plus,Nani has to keep an eye on his passing in his own area,he lost the ball quite a few times in dangerous positions,its small things like these that he has to improve on but in the second half we saw a different Nani,providing a fantastic assist and picking up two fantastic passes,its that Nani that we all want to see.
Antriksh (abmtd)
Nani didn't play too badly tonight, I thought he was great in the second half his assist to Rooney was sublime. He just needs more game time on the left wing and also needs to be playing big games like this, but an extra option would e great, someone with a little footballing intelligence and able to use their left foot. Tosic would have been great if he worked out, but it couldn't hurt to have someone like David Silva in the team.
What a performance - when we play like that we can beat anyone on the day - just wish we had more consistency in Eurpoe and domestic games
One of your supporters on the radio with collymore last night, admitted you were a above average side
Tiny T
We are above average. Whats your point?
Well above average!

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