Manchester United (Berbatov 29′, 51′, Rooney 76′) 3-0 Celtic
Stadium: Old Trafford, England
UEFA Champions League, Group E
Date: 21 October 2008
Kickoff: 19:45 BST, 14:45 ET
Manchester United continued their winning ways, defeating Celtic, 3-0. Soccerlens brought you the action live! Click below for the live-blog and feel free to leave your comments.
Manchester United will play hosts to Celtic for this mouthwatering Champions League clash between two storied franchises. Celtic will be visiting Old Trafford for the first time since 2006-2007 when Manchester United triumphed, 3-2, on two goals from Louis Saha and one from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Before that, the last time Celtic visited Old Trafford was for the Roy Keane Testimonial. Let’s just say that the stakes for this match will be considerably higher.
After a lackluster start to their Champions League campaign, Manchester United rebounded with a resounding 3-0 win against Aalborg. Dimitar Berbatov finally scored his first two goals for his new employers and even seemed to crack a slight smile. Domestically, things seem to be clicking for the Red Devils as they have rebounded from their heartbreaking draw against Chelsea with two straight league wins. With Berbatov developing good chemistry with Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, Sir Alex Ferguson’s team should be a formidable test for the reigning Scottish champions.
Celtic have gotten off to a poor start in the Champions League, being held at home against Aalborg (after a missing a penalty shot that would have won the game) and losing to Villarreal on the road. Celtic have taken one point out of a possible 48 points during Champions League Group Stage road matches, and they’ll be decided underdogs against the reigning champions at Old Trafford. However, Manchester United have struggled to score goals this season, and if Celtic can hang tough, then they could definitely steal a point, at the very least. Celtic will need a good result, otherwise they’ll be looking at the UEFA Cup.
Who will win the match? Upstart Celtic or the defending champs? Who will Roy Keane be cheering for? Should be an interesting match.
UPDATE: Left back Patrice Evra, who left Saturday’s match against West Brom with a hamstring injury, has been ruled out for Manchester United. Anderson and Carlos Tevez should be available, after missing out on the West Brom match. Meanwhile, Michael Carrick and Owen Hargreaves are still out. As for Celtic, striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, who scored the last time these teams met at Old Trafford, will miss out, which should make this typist’s life a lot easier.
Manchester United: Van der Sar, Neville (c), Evans, Vidic, O’Shea, Ronaldo, Fletcher, Anderson, Nani, Berbatov, Rooney.
Subs: Kuszczak, Brown, Giggs, Park, Rafael, Gibson, Tevez.
As expected, O’Shea will start for Evra on the left. Ferdinand’s omission is surprising, given there was no news about him being injured, so it’s probably just to give him a rest. Neville starts on the right as Brown continues to get more starts for England than for his club. Berbatov and Rooney seem to be the preferred strike tandem as of late, although Tevez will give the team an intriguing late-game option. Little surprised to see Ronaldo start, since he’s played a lot of football as of late, but I guess Sir Alex wants to give him as much time with Berbatov and Rooney as possible.
Celtic: Boruc, Wilson, Loovens, McManus, Naylor, S. Brown, Robson, Nakamura, Caldwell, McGeady, McDonald.
Subs: M. Brown, Hinkel, Hartley, Maloney, Donati, Sheridan, O’Dea.
Celtic will make a few changes from the attack-minded squad that lost to Villarreal. Loovens will start at right-back as Caldwell will play in the midfield. Maloney, well known to Aston Villa fans, will drop to the bench as it looks like Brown and Robson will sit in front of the defense. McDonald will start in place of Samaras as the lone striker. With their 4-2-3-1 formation, it’s clear that defense will be the primary thing on Celtic’s mind.
Thanks to everyone who followed along. Join me tomorrow as Atletico Madrid take on Liverpool!
90′ + 3 Nani hits the turbo button and makes a great run towards the box. He looks like he’s going to score, but he just loses control of the ball. There’s the whistle and we’re done!
90′ + 2 This time they play it short, but Man Utd. win possession and go on the attack. Rooney tries to take Wilson on, but Wilson gets the better of him. Wilson has played very well today.
90′ + 1 Three minutes will be added on. Not like it matters. Celtic win a corner as Evans knocks away the cross attempt. We’ll do it again as Rooney knocks Maloney’s corner out.
89′ I was joking about the Man Utd. alum thing, but Ruud Van Nistelrooy has scored for Real Madrid. They’re looking at a 2-1 deficit to Juventus, though.
88′ What a slugfest between AaB and Villarreal. The Spanish side is up 6-3. Good chance for Hartley as he nearly goes through, but Evans is there to knock it past the touchline for a Celtic throw-in.
87′ Wilson’s cross from the right flank is too far for any of his teammates and Van der Sar handles it easily.
86′ Brown with a dangerous pass in his own half to Rooney that lacks pace and nearly causes a turnover. Rooney holds on, though, otherwise methinks Brown would be making a permanent move back into Sir Alex’s doghouse.
85′ Sheridan makes a run towards goal, but Brown takes it away. Tevez tries to send it to the far post for Park, but Boruc cuts it out.
83′ Loovens is booked after he goes Cobra Kai on Tevez and sweeps his leg. Creese the Evil Sensei would be proud.
82′ Sure enough, Ronaldo comes off for Park Ji-Sung.
80′ Ronaldo is down in the Celtic box after Brown steps on his leg. Ouch. I think Ferguson should get him out of there. Rooney sends a long pass to Tevez, who is all alone running down the right. Ronaldo calls for the ball, but Tevez is determined to send a message and goes for goal. It’s well off the mark, though, and Celtic spring their counterattack. Well, they spring their one striker deep down the left and he has to hold onto it because none of his teammates are around. Eventually Manchester United knock it away.
78′ Nani takes a long-range shot and looks shocked that he didn’t score. In fairness, though, it was just wide of the post. Meanwhile, Sheridan comes in for McDonald.
76′ GOAL! Nice build up from Celtic that results in McGeady taking a shot from the edge of the box. Van der Sar makes the save, though, and United go on the counterattack by slinging it to Fletcher. Fletcher makes a nice run and slips it to Nani. Nani gives it to Tevez, who finds Rooney in the box. Rooney then turns and fires on goal, easily beating Boruc. I think it’s fair to say that Rooney is locked in right now.
74′ Hartley gets a booking after he commits the hard foul on Nani. United have a free kick from about 35 yards out. Ronaldo’s free kick goes off a Celtic defender and he wants a hand-ball. No dice, though, and Ronaldo’s free kicks continue to be mediocre.
73′ Corner goes out to Rooney, and he unleashes a great shot on goal that forces Boruc to make a reflex save. Nani’s service on the ensuing corner is poor once again. Sigh. When does Hargreaves come back again?
72′ They play it short, but Celtic knock it away for a United throw. After the throw, Celtic try to clear it, but the ball deflects off Hartley and is out for another corner.
71′ Rooney and Tevez try a one-two inside the box. Rooney’s return pass is knocked away by McManus. Nani’s corner doesn’t get past the first defender, but United get another corner.
69′ Nani sends a cross from the right flank towards the far post. Ronaldo has a chance to head it in, but it’s just over his head. It just seems like those kinds of chances were all going in for him last year.
68′ Tevez commits the foul as he buzzes around the box, trying to get something going. You know he’s peeved about losing his place in the starting XI.
67′ Maloney sends in a deep cross from the left wing that Van der Sar comes out to collect.
66′ Nothing doing on the corner, but United keep possession and look to reset their offense. Ronaldo loses it and Celtic go on the counterattack.
65′ Ronaldo with a nice run down the left and he gets knocked down once again and wins a free kick. This time it’s Caldwell who does the honors. Ronaldo plays the kick short to Tevez, who unleashes a nice shot on goal that just eludes the far post. It’s out for a corner as Boruc had to knock it out of bounds.
64′ McManus and Nani go for a ball near the edge of the endline. It’s out and United have a corner. Corner goes out to O’Shea, but his header is blocked and knocked away by Celtic.
63′ Fletcher with a clever chip to Nani, but it’s long and goes out for a Celtic throw. Wes Brown is the captain right now. That’s ironic, isn’t it?
62′ Double substitution for Celtic as Maloney and Hartley come on for Nakamura and Robson.
61′ Free kick goes into the wall, a one-man wall. Ugh! United keep it and eventually, Ronaldo gets pushed by Wilson once again, but no foul this time.
60′ Double substitution for Manchester United as Brown comes on for Neville and Tevez comes on for Berbatov.
59′ Neville makes a long run down the right and tries to cross it into the box. It’s out for a corner, but Neville really should have done better with that cross. Corner goes out to Ronaldo, who does his little shimmy that everyone outside of Manchester and Madrid hate. He gets shoved down to the ground and wins the free kick.
57′ Celtic with another good buildup, but Naylor’s cross goes into the cheap seats.
56′ Promising buildup from Celtic is all for naught as Brown’s through-ball to McDonald is long and goes out for a goal-kick. Nani goes to the ground after he loses the ball in the box. Fletcher does well to win it back. Ball is played through to Berbatov who brings Boruc off his line. Boruc deflects it to Rooney, who is wide open and has the entire net to shoot at. Of course, he misses the target completely. Funny how that always happens, huh?
54′ Geez, now it looks like Berbatov might have been off-sides on that one, too. What a cheater! Still it was so close that a lot of refs would have missed that call. In the meantime, Rooney gets played through by Ronaldo and he puts it past Boruc, but he’s flagged off-sides. On the replay, it looks like he was ON-SIDES. What’s going on today? Did we get the Three-Blind Mice as our officiating crew?
51′ GOAL! Brown with the late tackle on Anderson and Man Utd will have a good free-kick opportunity from about 30 yards out or so. Ronaldo strikes a good free kick this time as he forces a great save from Boruc. Berbatov gets the rebound and knocks it in for the second goal.
50′ Corner goes out towards an unmarked O’Shea, but it’s over his head.
49′ Nice touch pass from Berbatov as he tries to send it through to Rooney. McManus has to knock it away to concede the corner.
48′ Celtic on the attack. Wilson comes flying down the right and his cross attempt is knocked out by O’Shea for a corner. Nakamura sends in the corner and Berbatov knocks it away. He’s down on the ground for a little as the ball hits him square on his nose. Ouch.
46′ Man Utd. kick off and we’re underway! United had a 64%-36% edge in possession in the first half. Celtic will have to do better if they want to get back into this match. The crowd Strachan as he makes his way back onto the field. Is that any way to treat a former United old boy?
46′ Villarreal and AaB is a real barnburner, as the squads are deadlocked at 2 going into the half. One of the scorers for Villarreal? Former United striker Giuseppe Rossi. Arsenal are spanking Fenerbache 3-1. The lone-goal for Fenerbache? An own-goal from former United defender Mikael Silvestre. So I guess you can say that it’s been a productive day for United alums. Let’s see what Ruud Van Nistelrooy can do for Real Madrid.
Celtic took it to Manchester United early on, but United’s goal seemed to deflate them. The goal will probably be debated and disputed ad naseum, so United will have to score a couple more in order to prove that they deserve to win. I’m sure both managers will be pleased with the effort thus far, and we should expect more of the same in the second half.
45′ + 1 Nani’s cross is knocked out for a corner. Corner is taken short, and Fletcher gets it and is wide open in the box. He shoots on goal, but it’s well off the mark. So much for Darren Fletcher: Goal Machine. There’s the whistle and we’re at halftime.
44′ Neville is called for foul on Maloney. Nakamura’s free kick goes towards the far post, where O’Shea is all alone. He tries to pass it back to Van der Sar, but it’s harder than he intends and Van der Sar has to make a diving save to prevent the own goal. That might have been Van der Sar’s best save of the first half
42′ Berbatov tries to cross it from the right into the box for Ronaldo. Ronaldo can’t get his head on it, and Celtic knock it away. Rooney gets it on the right edge of the box and his cross strikes McManus’s elbow. Crowd wants hand-ball, but the ref deems it an inadvertent hand-ball.
40′ Nani creates some space on the edge of the box and unleashes a long-range shot that isn’t even close. Sigh. Just when you thought it was safe to praise Nani…
39′ Nani then makes me eat my words as he makes a great effort to keep possession in the face of some intense pressure. Ball goes out to Rooney, who unleashes a hard shot from the edge of the box that forces a save from Boruc.
37′ Poor giveaway by Nani short-circuits Man. Utd’s attack. In the past, I’ve been pretty clear about my feelings concerning Nani, so I’ll just leave it at that.
36′ It looks like Berbatov might have been off-sides, but the ball could very well have come off a Celtic defender. Plus, Loovens moved behind Berbatov very quickly after Berbatov got the ball. Hmm… It’s a close call.
35′ Celtic on the attack, but Robson gets dispossessed by Anderson. Robson comes back and fouls him, conceding the free kick in Man Utd. territory.
34′ McGeady gives it away close to his own box, but Anderson’s long-range shot is over the crossbar.
33′ I’d like to see a replay of that goal, since it looked like Berbatov might have been off-sides. Rooney sends a cross to Ronaldo, who is deep down the right flank. He tries to cross it back into the box, but it’s knocked away for a throw.
32′ Evans with some good defense on Robson after he gets the long pass.
30′ GOAL! Nani whips in the cross and Celtic can’t clear it away. The ball bounces to Berbatov, who is unmarked in front of the goal and pokes it past Boruc. Unsung hero on that play was O’Shea, who kept it alive and sent it to Berbatov.
29′ Nani with a nice move down the left to elude Wilson. His cross is off Caldwell for a corner.
28′ Back the other way as Berbatov’s shot is nicely blocked. Berbatov wins it back and sends it to Ronaldo, who is to his right. Ronaldo has time to line up his shot, but he shoots it over well over the bar. He should have done better with that.
27′ Good chance for Celtic as Robson is fouled by Fletcher. Nakamura will have a good chance from 25 yards out or so. Nakamura tries to play it into the box rather than go for goal, and McDonald gets called or a foul.
26′ McGeady makes a move on the edge of the box and tries to elude his defender. He uncorks a wild shot that is partially blocked. Van der Sar comes a long way out of his box to kick it away.
24′ Naylor with a shot/cross towards the far post that makes Van der Sar work once again. Celtic have had the better chances so far, can’t deny that.
23′ Long cross into the box from Rooney for Berbatov. Berbatov spins around and tries to get it, but he ends up kneeing Wilson in the gut. Ouch. That looks like it hurt. How would you feel if you got hit with a 30 million pound knee?
22′ Looks like this is within Ronaldo’s range. Let’s see what he can do. Ronaldo’s free kick bounces off the wall. His free kicks haven’t been very good ever since recovering from that injury.
21′ Nani’s entry pass hits the ref by mistake. The ref goes down like he’s been shot. Who does he think he is? Ronaldo? Speaking of which, Ronaldo gets fouled by Brown in the attacking half for a free kick.
20′ Nothing doing on the corner as Man Utd. clear it easily. Well, Celtic came to play today.
19′ Naylor crosses it from the left and it bounces out to Caldwell, who rifles a powerful shot on target that makes Van der Sar work again. It’s out for a corner.
18′ Ronaldo tries to play the one-two with Rooney, but the return pass gets knocked away by McManus. Nani makes a nice cross from deep down the right flank and Rooney tries to volley it into the net. Wilson blocks it with his body, though, and Celtic escape. That was a good looking strike.
16′ Nakamura’s pass gets taken away by Neville. Ronaldo sends a nice pass to Rooney in the box. Rooney tries to a move on McManus, but McManus knocks it away for a corner. Nani whips in the corner, but it gets knocked away by Celtic. Evans gets it and tries to cross it from the left wing, but it’s out for a goal-kick. On the replay, it looked like Wilson got a piece of it, so it should have been a corner.
14′ Good through-ball from Rooney to Neville, who makes a great run towards the box. Unfortunately, his cross is long and goes out for a goal-kick.
13′ Nakamura sends the corner into the net. Unfortunately, it’s the side net. Poor effort from the Celtic man.
12′ Good effort from McGeady who curls a long shot on goal that forces a save from Van der Sar. It’s out for a corner.
11′ Nothing doing on the corner. Celtic get it and go on the attack. It’s early, but Celtic have had quite a bit of possession thus far.
10′ Long ball into the box for Brown, but Evans is there to take it away. Good defending from Rio’s replacement. Ronaldo wins a corner as his cross is deflected out by Naylor.
9′ McDonald draws the foul in the attacking half from O’Shea. Let’s see what they can do here. Naylor sends it into the box, but O’Shea gets to it and clears it from danger.
8′ Neville sends in a low cross into the box, but McManus knocks it away.
6′ Neville passes up the long-range shot and plays it in to Anderson. Anderson lays it off to Ronaldo, who tries a long-range shot that is well off the mark. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Neville should have shot that. He had a better angle than Ronaldo.
5′ Brown and McDonald have some miscommunication as Brown tries to play him through but McDonald had other ideals. Ronaldo comes back with a cross from deep down the right towards Rooney in the box, but Celtic head it out past the touchline. John O’Shea tries a long-range shot that Boruc easily handles.
4′ Tommy Smyth thinks Ronaldo’s body language is bad. As if he doesn’t want to be a United player anymore. Not sure what would give him that idea.
3′ Nani sends in the free kick into the box, but Celtic clear it away. Nani comes back and tries to cross it from the left flank. It’s headed away by Naylor.
2′ Ronaldo goes down after a foul from Brown. That was early. Then he follows up with a nice entry pass to Berbatov in the box. Berbatov goes down on the foul from Robson on the right end of the end-line, and Man Utd. will have a free kick.
1′ Celtic will kick off and here we go!
0′ And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the whole “master vs. pupil” dynamic between Sir Alex Ferguson and Gordon Strachan. Apparently, the two of them don’t have a good relationship. I’m shocked! SHOCKED, I tell you. I mean, Sir Alex loves all of his old players and coaches like, uh, Roy Keane, and, uh, uh, Steve Bruce, and uh – oh never mind.
0′ Cue the annoying theme music. In case you’ve forgotten, “these are the Chammmm-pionsssssss!”
0′ I would have thought that Sir Alex would have saved Neville for the Everton match on Saturday so that he could captain the squad against Phil. At this stage in his career, I would doubt that Neville could play two matches in a week. By the way, I wonder where Wes Brown will end up next year.
0′ If Manchester United’s recent matches have been any indicator, United should struggle to break down Celtic’s defense for the first half before erupting for 2 or 3 goals in the second half. Celtic seem to be putting all their eggs in their defensive basket. Hey, it worked for Villarreal, right?
0′ You don’t have to be a Manchester United fan to be impressed with Wayne Rooney’s form right now. He’s always been a streaky player, but when he gets hot it seems like he can’t miss.
0′ Welcome to Soccerlens’ live coverage of the UEFA Champions League. I’m Victor and I’ll be liveblogging this match. Can Manchester United continue their recent run of good form and stay atop their Champions League group with a win against Celtic?
Celtic certainly came to play early on, but they were worn down by United’s unyielding pressure. I’m sure people will question whether Berbatov’s two goals should have counted, but there’s no denying the fact that United deserved to win and clearly outplayed Celtic, after some shaky moments early on. Because AaB managed 3 goals against Villarreal, Celtic will need to come up big in their next three Champions League fixtures, otherwise they won’t even qualify for the UEFA Cup.
As for Manchester United, it’s hard to argue with their effort. Once they settled down, they coolly executed their offense and were barely troubled on defense. It looks like they’ll be battling with Villarreal for supremacy in the group, making that return fixture in a few weeks extremely interesting, to say the least.
Man of the Match:
It was a great all-around effort from United. On offense, Berbatov, Rooney, and Ronaldo continue to work well together. Meanwhile, on defense, Evans stepped in for Ferdinand and played a strong all-around game. Van der Sar made a number of key saves and looked like he was not going to be beaten today. Rooney, ultimately, gets the nod as he looks like he is completely locked in right now. As always, he showed his great all-around skills by doing his share of ball-winning in midfield and distributed the ball to his teammates. If he keeps scoring the way he is right now, he could very well carry his team to any number of trophies.