Date:Thursday May 3 2007
AC Milan beat Manchester United 3-0 to reach the Champions League final.
Nemanja Vidic returned to the starting line-up after spending one month on the sidelines with a broken collarbone. The Serbian rose to the challenge magnificently, unlike his teammates.
From the very first minute, it looked like Milan would swamp us. They were first to every ball, wreaking havoc every time they went forward while we were pedestrian, looked way off the pace and intimidated by the San Siro.
We gifted two astonishingly similar goals to our opponents in the first half, the second was especially ridiculous. Poor Vidic slipped after Heinze passed the ball inside our own area (and where did he learn to do that???) and from the ensuing mayhem Seedorf fired home - let me mention that Vidic cleared the ball with his head, that fell to Seedorf and Nemanja was already there to block the shot. He was unsuccessful in his attempt but where was Wes Brown? Who know?
I felt that the break could not come soon enough and I was thoroughly relieved when Frank de Bleeckere put an end to my sufferings. I hoped against hope that Fergie might do something to prevent the inevitable.
Well, the second half was no better. Fergie did not send on Louis Saha until the 76th minute so I guess he's still not fully fit. Milan settled for holding their lead comfortably and for all our efforts, we could only show up a penalty claim when Rooney was upended in the air by Massimo Oddo.
Saha came in but it was Gilardino who had a hilariously and pathetically easy chance. He did not miss (though I thought he's the one who could miss even that) and it was really all over.
Milan were clearly superior as all their season led up to this game. For them, it was a vital game. We, on the other hand, had an excellent but exhausting season that took our toll. Unfortunately, we chose the worst possible day to reach rock bottom.
Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic did what could be expected of them. However, both of them were inefficient because football is ultimately a team sport and their teammates let them down. Cristiano Ronaldo was pathetic, it was his worst performance in the season, Gabriel Heinze was disastrous, Fletcher and Carrick were outplayed by their Italian counterparts while Scholesy could not be the intelligent force he usually is. I expected much more from Scholes and Giggs, I truly believed that their experience could take us through.
They were disappointing, just like everyone else, apart from Rooney and Vidic but the referee was almost as bad. Milan did not need his help as they were clearly superior but he insisted on offering them plenty of support. Gennaro Gattuso committed four such fouls that each of them would have warranted a yellow card if Scholes committed them (or if Herbert Fandel, ref of the Roma game were in charge). We should have been awarded a penalty, too and he could have done a lot more to sort out their play-acting.
Having said that, I firmly believe that even excellent officiating would not have saved us yesterday. We were just too bad. But there's a league title to win for us so I'd urge everyone to forget it and concentrate on Manchester City - they should be punished for our disappointing European night.
Date:Thursday May 3 2007
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