Writer: Red Boy
Date:Saturday May 28 2011
Our Catalan opponents gave a master-class in football as United`s dreams of winning the Champions League, on home soil, were ended.
Sir Alex Ferguson surprised nobody with his starting eleven with it being exactly as the tabloid press had hinted.
Team - Van der Sar, Fabio, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Giggs, Park, Carrick, Valencia, Rooney, Hernandez
Subs - Kuszczak, Smalling, Anderson, Nani, Scholes, Fletcher, Owen
First Half - United got the action underway and started well. Sir Alex had formulated a plan and Barcelona were being denied time and space. With Barca not getting off to the start they envisaged Valdes had to race out to foil Rooney after a huge clearance from Van der Sar
Another long ball, minutes later, caused confusion at the heart of the Barca defence with Valdes and Pique almost causing a catastrophe. After our bright start though, Barca started to come into the game, Villa saw a shot blocked by Vidic and Messi appealed for a penalty after the ball appeared to strike the hand of Valencia.
Barca were, by now, starting to put together some intricate moves and one such move, started by Alves, saw Pedro shoot wide. Messi was coming into the game more now and Vidic reacted quickly after the little Argentine wriggled his way through the defence.
Villa, struggling for goals this season, fizzed a shot towards goal that went wide and then Van der Sar was forced to make a save from the same player. Messi, trying to capitalise on some intricate build up play, was denied by a great tackle from Vidic and Barca were now in control.
With twenty-seven minutes on the clock Barca went ahead. Xavi fed a ball through the eye of a needle and Pedro was on hand to beat Van der Sar with a crisp shot.
Barcelona 1 United 0 (Pedro - 27 minutes)
United didn`t buckle though and although a Rooney free kick, from out wide, came to nothing, were back on level seven minutes later. The move, started by Rooney, saw Giggs play a great ball in that Rooney finished with aplomb from some fifteen yards out.
Barcelona 1 United 1 (Rooney - 34 minutes)
Barca responded by attacking and after Xavi had fired over, Van der Sar was forced to save a shot from Iniesta. But with half time beckoning another great run from Messi saw a cross put in that Villa failed to reach by inches.
Half Time - Barcelona 1 United 1
Second Half - Barca started the second half well, Mascherano went on a seventy yard run to earn a corner that came to nothing before a Xavi shot was deflected for another corner that Barca couldn`t capitalise on.
Van der Sar was forced to save from Alves as Barca carved United open again and with fifty-four minutes gone United were behind again. Messi, in acres of space, found time to fire a shot past van der Sar.
Barcelona 2 United 1 (Messi - 54 minutes)
Barca were now well on top and Van der Sar had to save well from Xavi before making another save from Iniesta after some more great play from our opponents.
Sir Alex threw on Nani in place of a struggling Fabio but seconds later the game was put out of our reach when Barca netted a third goal. Messi slipped a great ball to Villa who curled an unstoppable shot past Van der Sar into the top corner
Barcelona 3 United 1 (Villa - 69 minutes)
United tried to respond and Rooney chipped an effort on to the roof of the Barca net before Giggs appealed, in vain, for a penalty after the ball appeared to hit the hand of Villa. But apart from an effort from Nani that went wide, Barca were always going to hang on to their lead and any dream of United winning the Champions League was long gone.
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Date:Saturday May 28 2011
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