Thursday, April 24, 2008

United earn a draw at Nou Camp

Manchester United took on Barcelona at the Nou Camp and were hoping for a display that would put them in drivers seat to qualify for the finals. But it was not the typical attacking style from United but they sat back and defended with purpose and warded off the attacking threats of Barca to earn a 0-0 draw. Things could have been better had Ronaldo converted the penalty he got in the 3rd minute.

United had Brown at central defence due to Vidic's injury while Rooney was partnering Tevez upfront. Barca had Messi back in their side and were looking to put up a good show that could erase their La Liga failure this season. And they received a setback when United were given a penalty in the 3rd min. Ronaldo earned it and he hit that one wide much to the delight of Catalan fans. After that it was all Barca with their passing being precise and they had plenty of possession. United were starved for the ball but when they got it, they gave it away far too easily something you don't associated with United. Messi, Deco, Eto'o were queuing up in front of goal but their threat was only upto the 18 yard box and keeper was not called into action. United looked to play on the counter and Ronaldo was playing as the most further player up the field. He was denied another penalty when he was fouled by Marquez in the box. That would have been given as a foul had it been anywhere on the pitch other than the penalty box. Barca were pressing hard and the defenders held fort for United.

Second half also had the similar pattern of play and early on into the second half Eto'o capitalising on some poor defending by Brown stormed into the box and was chased by Ferdinand who tripped him but Eto'o was true to himself and dint go to ground as he thought he had a chance and he pulled the ball for Iniesta but then the defenders had closed down the danger. It was a critical moment as had Eto'o gone down it was surely going to be a penalty. And Barca pressed and had some shots on target while Carrick hit the side netting from close range. Messi was replaced by the young Bojan at the hour mark.

Barca were unable to create any clear cut chances and the United defenders closed down the spaces very well. Barca had nearly 67% possession throughout the match. Evra was very good throughout and there was a shout for penalty for his foul on Iniesta but it wasn't given. Time was running out and Henry came on for Barca while Nani and Giggs came on for Rooney and Tevez. Henry had a couple of shots on goal that worked Van Der Sar but the deadlock was not broken and the match ended in a stalemate.

It would have been a totally different game had Ronaldo scored the penalty but nevertheless it was a result that made Sir Alex happy and Manutd would be confident going into the second leg at Old Trafford knowing that a win would take them to Moscow.

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Ronaldo - Missed penalty

Short highlights

Full highlights

First Half

Second Half

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