AaB 0-3 Manchester United (Rooney 22′, Berbatov 55′, 79′)
Stadium: Aalborg Stadion, Denmark
Competition: UEFA Champions League, Group E
Date: 30 September 2008
Kickoff: 18:45 GMT, 14:45 ET
Manchester United overpowered AaB, 3-0, in a spirited Champions League clash! Soccerlens brought you the action live! Click below for the live blog!
Both Manchester United and AaB were held to scoreless draws during the opening week of Champions League group play. Manchester United were flummoxed at home against a defensively minded Villarreal team, while AaB were lucky to escape Glasgow with a draw after Celtic’s Bryan Robson missed a penalty kick in the first half.
Despite their similar results, these two squads will hardly be on equal footing. After a slow start to their season, Manchester United have been playing better, as of late, and will be heavy favorites in this match. Cristiano Ronaldo is back and has picked up where he left off last season, scoring in his last two matches (and even drawing phantom penalties in the process). Wayne Rooney was benched against Bolton this past weekend, but responded with a goal off the bench. Owen Hargreaves and Michael Carrick will miss out, but Wes Brown should be back after sitting out the last two Premiership matches. Manchester United will have a huge hole at goal, as both Ben Foster and Tomasz Kuszczak have picked up injuries behind the equally injury-prone Edwin Van der Sar. However, Manchester United probably won’t be relying on world class goalkeeping in order to help them win this match. If so, then they have a lot of other problems to worry about.
As for AaB, they’ll be heavy underdogs against the defending champions. They’ll get a boost as defender Michael Beauchamp’s red card has been overturned by UEFA due to mistaken identity. Instead, it will be his defensive partner, Michael Jakobsen, that will miss out against Manchester United. The pressure will be on Manchester United to get the maximum points, but they better be wary of Jeppe Curth, who led the Danish League in goals last season. Thomas Enevoldsen is well known to England fans for his 25-yard screamer that beat Paul Robinson and Tottenham in the UEFA Cup last season (then again, if you put everyone who beat Paul Robinson from long-distance in the same room, you’d have to rent out a room in Buckingham Palace). AaB also has a Brazilian attacking midfielder whose name is pronounced “Kaka.” Unfortunately, this player goes by “Caca,” and is far less accomplished than his homophonic counterpart.
Manchester United will be heavily favored, but they could be vulnerable. After all, AaB are at home and have nothing to lose. Manchester United have had trouble breaking down defensively minded teams this season (they couldn’t score against Villarreal, and were getting shut out by Bolton until Rob Styles gave Cristiano Ronaldo a welcome back gift). AaB have nothing to lose and, if they play like it, they could be a handful for a Manchester United team that’s still finding its form.
Update: Owen Hargreaves is definitely out for this match. He sprained his knee after bending down to pick up a ball on the training ground. Not really, but you probably believed it for a minute. Gary Neville will also be spending some quality time in the training room back at Carrington. As for AaB, Curth, their top striker, missed training on Monday, as did midfielder Risgard. Not good signs if you’re an AaB fan.
AaB: Zaza, Bogelund, Beauchamp, Olfers, Pedersen, Risgard, Enevoldsen, Augustinussen (c), Johansson, Curth, Saganowski.
Subs: Stenild, Due, Caca, Braemer, Sorensen, Kristensen, Schwartz.
Despite missing training on Monday, both Curth and Risgard will play. AaB will go with the 4-4-2 with Curth and Saganowski up front. Bogelund will step in for the suspended Jakobsen. Otherwise, it’s the same squad that drew against Celtic two weeks ago.
Manchester United: Van der Sar, Rafael, Ferdinand (c), Vidic, Evra, Ronaldo, O’Shea, Scholes, Nani, Berbatov, Rooney.
Subs: Amos, Brown, Anderson, Giggs, Park, Evans, Tevez.
Once again, Wes Brown starts out on the bench as Rafael gets the nod instead. If he’s not hurt, then I’m sure he’s really regretting signing that new contract. At least Fabio isn’t playing, otherwise we could get another case of mistaken identity like what happened to AaB against Celtic. I’m surprised to see O’Shea get the nod and not someone like Fletcher, but I guess Fletch has already played a lot this season (at least, much more than he’s accustomed to playing). Should be interesting to see how Ronaldo, Berbatov, and Rooney play together.
90′ + 2 Vidic is down after a foul from Johansson. He’s up, though, and he looks okay. There’s the whistle and we’re done! Thanks for tuning in and see you next time!
90′ + 1 There will be two minutes added on. Loose ball in front of goal as Ferdinand plays it slowly back to Van der Sar. Van der Sar kicks it past the touchline for the throw. Ronaldo on the break and he tries to get past Augustinussen. He grabs a little too much of the AaB captain and Ronaldo gets called for the foul.
89′ Dangerous ball in from AaB as Saganowski nearly gets a good chance in the middle of the box. It’s taken away by Van der Sar, though, who hasn’t had much to do tonight.
86′ Villarreal look like they’re going to win their match with Celtic. I have no doubt that Villarreal are in their 10-0-0 formation as we speak. Meanwhile, Arsenal continue to take out their frustrations on Porto. It’s now 4-0.
85′ Berbatov finds Ronaldo with a great through-ball and Ronaldo is all alone with the keeper. He gets around the keeper and tries the shot. It looks like it goes in, but it hits the side netting. Last year, that would have been in.
84′ Corner to AaB as Wes Brown knocks it away. Man Utd. clear it away from danger and Ronaldo pushes it forward to Tevez. Nani gets it deep down the right flank and lifts a corner that looks like it’s going out past the end line. Ronaldo somehow keeps it in and he plays it back to Berbatov. He gets called for the foul, though, so no hat trick chance.
82′ Vidic handles it in the box, but the ref rules that it was inadvertent.
81′ Wow. That really was a great strike by Berbatov. I hate to say it, but Rooney or Tevez wouldn’t have scored on that kind of ball. It wasn’t just his power and skill, but his height that allowed him to score that one.
79′ GOAL!! Ronaldo makes a great move to get past Pedersen down the right. He crosses it back to Berbatov, who makes a nice move and roundhouse kicks it into the net. Wow! That was a great strike from Berbatov. I was just going to criticize him for being lazy. Oh well. I guess you take the good with the bad when it comes to Berbatov.
78′ Berbatov sloppily tries to thread it to Ronaldo, but it’s easily cut out by AaB. Johansson tries the long-range shot, but it’s easily saved.
77′ Tevez tries the long range shot, but it’s wide of the post. Ronaldo’s header from Brown is handled by Zaza.
76′ Great chance for AaB as Enevoldsen lifts a great cross to the far post for Johansson, who has a whole lot of Evra’s jersey. Johansson heads it on goal, but it skips in front of the goal and it’s cleared from danger.
75′ Bogelund makes a dangerous cross into the box, but it’s long and goes out past the touchline for a Man Utd. throw.
74′ Tevez with a great run into the box and he passes up the shot and sends it back to Ronaldo instead. Ronaldo wasn’t expecting it and he shanks it over the bar. Tevez should have taken the shot.
73′ Ronaldo forces another great save from Zaza, who sends in the shot from the edge of the box. If it weren’t for Zaza, Man Utd. would probably be up by 4 or 5.
72′ Ronaldo makes the run down the left and he cuts it back to Berbatov. His shot is deflected out for the corner by Risgard. Giggs sends in the corner and it’s knocked away by AaB. Brown with a bad touch and he gives it away to AaB. Looks like he won’t be out of the doghouse anytime soon.
71′ Bogelund with some good work down the right flank. He lifts the cross into the box, but it’s out for the goal kick. Bogelund has really played hard today.
68′ Caca makes a nice run towards the box and he finds Johansson down the middle. Johansson makes a few guys miss and he lays it off to Curth, down the left. Curth’s shot is wide of the post, though, and AaB waste the good chance.
67′ Score update, Villarreal are up 1-0 on Celtic. Man Utd. might want to get another goal just in case it comes down to goal difference.
66′ Rafael seems to be favoring his right knee and Wes Brown should be coming in. Evra passes it to Ronaldo, but he’s offsides. Meanwhile, here comes Wes Brown, who finally makes his way out of the dog house.
65′ Nice passing from Man Utd. as Ronaldo goes down the right and passes it to Berbatov. Berbatov has his back to the goal, but he turns and lays it off to Tevez on his left. Tevez plays it through to Giggs, who makes the run from the left flank. Giggs draws Zaza out of the box and tries to put it in, but he doesn’t have the angle.
64′ Berbatov tries to play it into the middle for Ronaldo, but he loses it.
62′ Ronaldo goes down on the right edge of the box and tries to appeal for the free kick. No go, though.
60′ Caca takes it away from O’Shea and he tries to thread it in to Curth. Ferdinand cuts it out, though, and Man Utd. are on the attack. Berbatov flicks it to Ronaldo, who plays it through to Nani. Nani’s shot is deflected up and Tevez charges at it and puts it in the net. No goal, though, as the ref calls the hand-ball on Tevez.
59′ Sure enough, here comes Tevez to replace Rooney. Rooney is going into the training room, which is cause for concern. Hopefully, it’s not another metatarsal injury.
58′ Ronaldo and Rooney try to link up, but Rooney’s touch is poor and it’s too high for Ronaldo to handle. Rooney is down now and he looks like he’s favoring his left foot.
55′ GOAL! Berbatov finally gets off the schnide after he gets a gift from Augustinussen. Augustinussen tries to play it back to the keeper, but the AaB skipper mishandles it and it goes to Berbatov. The 30 million pound man then rifles a shot that Zaza has no chance to stop. Berbatov has a sour look on his puss and even his celebration looks like he’s more relieved than happy. Well, that’s a huge monkey off his back.
54′ Free kick by Ronaldo. He’s a good 35-40 yards away, but he goes for goal. It’s into the cheap seats and doesn’t bother Zaza in the slightest. Zaza then gets booked for wasting time. Not sure why Zaza would be wasting time. His club is losing, after all.
53′ Here comes the stretcher for Rafael, and will Wes Brown finally get some playing time? Again, I have no idea why Wes Brown looks like he’s out of favor. That own-goal against Liverpool was Van der Sar’s fault, not Brown’s. Did Wes Brown run over Sir Alex’s dog or something?
52′ Rafael gets fouled by Johansson, and Johansson gets booked.
51′ Caca sends it to Curth, who crosses it in front of goal. It’s knocked away at the last minute by Ferdinand.
50′ Clock is back. Thank goodness. Berbatov gives it away cheaply, but Giggs gets it back. He tries the shot, but it’s blocked.
49′ Enevoldsen tries the long-range shot and it’s well over the cross bar. Rafael had whiffed on the tackle to allow Enevoldsen the space to run. Rafael will be a good one. He just needs experience.
48′ Nani’s corner finds Ferdinand at the far post. His header is knocked away from harm. Ronaldo tries to pick out Rafael down the middle with the cross, but its knocked away.
47′ Clock isn’t working on ESPN’s coverage. So we’ll have to go with best approximations. Evra tries to flick it to Nani, but it’s knocked away for a corner.
46′ AaB kick off and the second half is under way! No changes at halftime. Man Utd. had a 65%-35% edge in possession during the first half. AaB win the corner. Pedersen sends it in, but Johansson fouls Rafael.
46′ Interesting score out of Belarus. BATE Borisov and Juventus are tied, 2-2, at half. Apparently, Borisov got off to a 2-0 lead only for Juventus to storm back. That would be a huge upset if Borisov were able to pull it off. Meanwhile, Arsenal seem to have shaken off the loss to Hull City and lead 2-0 against Porto.
AaB came to play and have come close on a couple of occasions. Still, Manchester United deserve to be in the lead, and, if anything, should be 2 or 3 goals up. I’m sure Sir Alex will be upset about that. We’ll see what AaB has up their sleeves for the second half. I’m not sure they can continue to play at this pace for another 45 minutes.
45′ +2 There’s the whistle and we’re at halftime.
45′ + 1 Two minutes added on. Can Man Utd. score right before halftime? Nani tries the long-range shot (are there any others when it comes to Nani?), and it’s wide of the post.
45′ Saganowski sends it to Curth, who’s right on the edge of the box. His shot just goes over the cross bar. Man, that was close.
44′ Rafael makes another takeaway and Man Utd. are on the break. Poor cross from Rafael is easily intercepted by Olfers.
42′ Rafael gets tangled up and he still manages to get the shot on Zaza. It’s saved and Man Utd. have a corner. Nani sends it in and Berbatov deflects it toward goal. It bounces around ominously outside the box, but Zaza eventually handles it.
41′ Rooney with a golden chance as Rafael easily takes it away from Enevoldsen. Ronaldo sends it in to Rooney, who misses the shot. Doesn’t matter since he was off-sides anyway.
39′ Corner to Man Utd. as Olfers knocks Ronaldo’s cross out before it can find Rooney. On the corner, it goes out to Giggs. Ronaldo’s header is wide of the mark as he gets the overhead lob from Giggs.
38′ Here comes Caca for Beauchamp. Why can’t he go with Kakainho? as in Little Kaka? So many great jokes wasted …
37′ Good defense by Bogelund as he takes it away from Nani deep down the left wing. Rafael goes in with a rash challenge on Pedersen and he’s deservedly booked. Dumb play from the youngster.
36′ Caca is getting warmed up, so it looks like Beauchamp might be done. Bogelund tries the long cross, but it’s easily handled by Van der Sar. Ronaldo tries to play it through to Berbatov, but it’s too deep and Zaza gets it.
34′ Tempers flare as Pedersen gets into it with Ronaldo. Rooney plays peacemaker. In other news, Hell has frozen over and Chelsea have decided to cut payroll. Beauchamp is coming off the pitch to get treatment.
33′ Ronaldo works on Augustinusen on the left and he earns the free kick. Giggs plays it short to Ronaldo, who crosses it to Nani. It’s deflected out for the corner. On the corner, Ronaldo gets a shot opportunity, and he forces Zaza to make a great save.
32′ Good stretch by AaB as they really have Man Utd. on their heels. Berbatov and Rooney get their wires crossed after Ronaldo tries to thread the through-ball to Rooney. Looks like that partnership will take a while to gel.
30′ Augustinussen takes the long-range shot and it’s deflected towards goal. Van der Sar punches it away and Man Utd. are out of danger. Don’t know why he didn’t try and catch it.
29′ Saganowski gets it at the edge of the box and tries to Bogelund again. His pass is long and it’s out for a goal kick.
28′ Ronaldo goes down from the hard challenge from Pedersen.
25′ Ronaldo creates some space after the errant pass from Rooney. Ronaldo shoots and it’s inches over the crossbar. Otherwise it would have been 2-0. Well, things have certainly picked up, haven’t they?
24′ What a through-ball from Giggs. To think that he wouldn’t even be out there if it weren’t for Scholes’ injury. AaB catch Man Utd. sleeping and Bogelund makes the great run down the right and is alone with the keeper. Ferdinand comes out of nowhere to make the tackle and saves the goal. Evra’s been spending too much time on the attack, I guess. On the corner, weak header from AaB is well wide of the mark.
22′ GOAL!! Giggs with a brilliant through-ball that finds Rooney down the middle. Rooney beats Beauchamp easily and puts it past Zaza for the score.
21′ Corner is cleared by Enevoldsen. Ronaldo gets it and tries to lift the cross towards Nani. It’s long and AaB clear it away.
20′ Rafael with a strong shot from long-range, and he forces Zaza to make a great save. Berbatov is out of position for the rebound, otherwise, he would have scored. It’s out for a corner.
19′ Ronaldo shakes and shimmies in the box, and sends in a weak shot to Zaza that he easily stops. You’re going to have to do better than that, Ronaldo. Maybe he can get on “Dancing with the Stars” with those moves, but he isn’t going to help his team, much.
18′ Giggs sends it in, but it’s cleared by AaB. Rooney tries the long range shot, but it’s easily blocked. Nani tries one and it’s blocked, too. Pedersen loses it after Evra makes a strong tackle. Ball is played to Rooney, who is called off-sides. Didn’t look like he was off-sides, but oh well.
17′ Augustinussen goes down on the edge of the box, but no foul call. Back the other way and Pedersen concedes a corner.
16′ Giggs is coming on for Scholes as it looks like the injury is pretty serious.
15′ Scholes is being stretchered off and looks like Man Utd. will be down a man for the time being.
14′ Scholes makes the tackle and he’s down on the pitch. Looks like he got tripped up with Augstinussen.
13′ Bogelund makes a strong run down the right and he whips a cross back into the box. Scholes is there to intercept it. Well, AaB certainly came to play today.
11′ AaB on the attack as Pedersen plays it across the box to Curth. Curth tries the shot but Evra knocks it out for the corner. The Man Utd. back four were caught on their heels there. On the corner, Johansson has a chance in the box, but he whiffs on the shot and Scholes clears it away. Well, AaB certainly got Man Utd.’s attention there.
10′ Nani lifts it into the box towards someone, not sure who, maybe Zaza since he was the closest one to it.
8′ Corner goes to Ferdinand, and he’s got a good chance. Zaza is there to make the reflex save, though. On the subsequent corner, Nani tries to play it into the box, but Zaza is there to take it.
7′ Ronaldo gets past Johansson and tries to get past Bogelund, but can’t. It pops to Rafael, and he takes the long range shot. It’s deflected out for the corner.
6′ Zaza makes a mistake as he tries to clear it. Ronaldo gets a piece of it and the ball is to Berbatov. Berbatov fires on goal, but he’s off target. That was a good chance for Berbatov to get off the schnide for his new club.
5′ Beauchamp concedes the corner. Nani’s delivery is to Scholes, who is well outside the box. United have to reset their offense and they go on the attack until Nani gives it away.
4′ Enevoldsen pushes Ronaldo to the ground. No penalty. After all, Rob Styles isn’t here. Nani with the strong shot from the edge of the box that looks like it might have caught an AaB defender’s hand. No call, though.
3′ Bogeland lifts a cross into the box for Saganowski, but he’s called for the foul.
1′ Man Utd. kick off and here we go!
0′ Here they come out of the tunnel. Man Utd.’s blue kit looks pretty sweet. Much better than the whites kit.
0′ I’m going to learn as much of that Champions League song as I can. “Sic semper tyrannis! E. Pluribus Enum! These are the Chammmm-pions!” I think those are the words…
0′ My Steelers pulled out a great win last night against the Ravens. I’ve noticed that Steeler fans and Man Utd. fans are very similar. For example, whenever things go badly, Steeler fans immediately go into a shell and you can hear the crickets chirping at Heinz Field. When Villarreal nearly scored against Man Utd. two weeks ago, it was the same dynamic at Old Trafford. The fans were catatonic and too shocked to do anything.
0′ Simply put, Manchester United have to win, and win big. Otherwise, you can expect another news cycle about what’s wrong with Man Utd. Frankly, if they can’t beat AaB, then they should be worried.
0′ Welcome everyone to Soccerlens’ coverage of the Champions League clash between Manchester United and AaB. I’m Victor and I’ll be your live-blogger.
While Manchester United certainly deserved to win (and probably should have scored 5 or 6 goals) this match was a lot closer than the 3-0 score indicated. AaB put up a spirited fight and came close on a couple of occasions. If it weren’t for Augustinussen’s howler in the 55th minute, then Berbatov might still be sitting on zero goals.
In any event, it’s a big win for Manchester United. Any time you can get the maximum points on the road in the Champions League, then you take it. Still, you get the feeling that Manchester United still haven’t played the way they’re capable of. They had many chances and seemingly squandered more than their fair share of them. Plus, it could very well be a Pyrrhic victory as they lose Scholes, Rooney, and impressive debutante Rafael. Still, it’s a win that puts them in control of their group, so you can’t really complain about that.
Man of the Match
Berbatov managed to score twice, but one of them was giftwrapped and he spent a lot of time as a non-factor, nonchalantly turning the ball over and failing to get on the same page as his teammates. Ferdinand was impressive once again as he continues to let his play silence his critics. Rafael deservedly got a lot of praise from the commentators due to his aggressive runs and impressive shot selection. However, his defending was uneven and he showed that he still needs experience before he’s ready to be a regular starter. Nevertheless, he gave his squad a shot in the arm and really keyed them to a badly needed victory. He’ll be one to watch in the years to come.