Manchester United (Vidic 4′, Ronaldo 48′) 2-0 Inter Milan (Manchester United win 2-0 on Aggregate)
Stadium: Old Trafford, England
Competition: UEFA Champions League
Date: 11 March 2009
Kickoff: 19:45 GMT, 15:45 ET
Manchester United’s dream of a Quintuple is alive as they knocked out Jose Mourinho and Inter Milan to advance to the Quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League! Soccerlens brought you the action live! Click below for the live-blog and feel free to leave comments below!
The last time these two teams met, Manchester United were completely dominant and played Inter Milan off their own pitch in every facet of the game, except where it counted: on the scoreboard. Their inability to pick up a valuable away goal could be their undoing as Inter Milan pay a visit to Old Trafford with a trip to the Quarterfinals on the line.
Manchester United have been in spectacular form as of late, storming to a nearly insurmountable lead in the Premiership while picking up the first two trophies in their attempt to win a “Quintuple.” They fired a warning shot to anyone who thought they would be ripe for the picking with a difficult trip to St. James Park in midweek after a rousing and emotional Carling Cup Final victory over Tottenham by coming from behind to defeat a determined Newcastle United squad. They also served notice of their intentions in the F.A. Cup by winning handily at Fulham despite resting the likes of Dimitar Berbatov and Cristiano Ronaldo. Their only concern going into this match will be health-related, as Rio Ferdinand limped off at Craven Cottage with an ankle injury and John O’Shea tweaked his hamstring. Then again, United will be getting back their best defensive player in Nemanja Vidic, who was suspended for the trip to the San Siro, so it isn’t all bad news.
For Inter, they’ll need to improve significantly if they want to keep their European hopes alive. They have some major concerns of their own heading into this match. They were blasted, 3-0, by Sampdoria in the Coppa Italia in midweek, and lost two of their defenders, Marco Materazzi and Nicholas Burdisso to injuries against Genoa over the weekend. Nelson Rivas, who was terrible in the first leg, was even worse in the loss to Sampdoria, giving away a goal and being pulled at halftime. As such, Jose Mourinho might have to start veteran Ivan Cordoba at center-back and pull Esteban Cambiasso back from his usual position in midfield.
That hasn’t stopped Mourinho from being his usual bragadocious self, however. In addition to touting himself as Sir Alex’s eventual replacement at Old Trafford, he reminded everyone of his success against Manchester United in years past. Even though Mourinho’s mind games are more for the press than anyone else, his words will, no doubt, have an impact on Sir Alex, who remembers how Porto poached a last-minute goal at Old Trafford in 2004 to send United tumbling out of the Champions League.
Who will win between these two giants? Will Manchester United’s quest for a Quintuple continue? Or will Mourinho continue to beguile Sir Alex and Manchester United? Tune in and find out!
Manchester United: Van der Sar, O’Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes, Giggs (c), Rooney, Berbatov.
Subs: Foster, Anderson, Park, Evans, Fletcher, Gibson, Tevez.
Giggs and Scholes will play after sitting out Saturday’s resounding defeat of Fulham in the F.A. Cup. They’ll be joined by Ronaldo and Berbatov, who also return after getting the weekend off. O’Shea and Ferdinand have been cleared to play, but Evans will be available if need be. Ferguson’s subs seem to be more offensively oriented, which shows that he’s concerned about this match going into extra time. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence.
Inter Milan Julio Cesar, Maicon, Cordoba, Samuel, Santon, Cambiasso, Zanetti (c), Stankovic, Vieira, Ibrahimovic, Balotelli.
Subs: Toldo, Maxwell, Figo, Cruz, Adriano, Muntari, Rivas.
Samuel has won his race to be fit in time for this match, and he’ll partner Cordoba in the center of the defense. Old nemesis Patrick Vieira will start in midfield after sitting out the first leg two weeks ago, and Balotelli will start up front instead of Adriano. Muntari’s demotion to the bench is a bit of a surprise (he has scored at Old Trafford before, you know), as is Rivas’ for an entirely different reason. Anyone who watched him two weeks ago and then in the Coppa Italia will agree that the only way Rivas is getting on the pitch is to shake hands with the United players after the match.
Thanks again to everyone who followed along! Join me on Saturday as Liverpool will take on Manchester United! See you then!
90′ + 3 There’s the whistle, and the only suspense left will be to see if Sir Alex and Jose shake hands. Sure enough, they exchange a hug, although Mourinho looks devastated. Meanwhile, Ronaldo takes off his shirt. Porto and Barca are through, and Arsenal and Roma are headed to extra time!
90′ + 2 Ibrahimovic tries a header from long range, but it doesn’t bother Van der Sar in the slightest. United now are content to kick it around and it looks like this one is almost over.
90′ + 1 Inter win a corner, but Figo’s corner amounts to nothing. Two minutes of time will be added on.
90′ Inter seem to catch United sleeping as Figo makes a great run towards the box. He sends it to Cambiasso, but O’Shea comes up from behind and wins it. Ferdinand is yelling at his teammates to keep focused.
89′ Porto and Atletico Madrid are still scoreless. Roma are still clinging to a 1-0 lead, and Barcelona have conceded a goal but remain ahead by two goals.
87′ Ibra gets it on the right edge of the box, and he gives it away poorly. He hasn’t won himself too many admirers with his performance in this tie. He didn’t even come close to living up to Mourinho’s words about him being the best player in the world.
86′ Evra collides with Maicon on the edge of the Inter box but the ref tells them to play on. Park has it and tries to send it back to Berbatov, but Inter are able to clear it from danger.
85′ Ronaldo with a great free kick that forces Julio Cesar to make yet another wonderful save to keep it out of the net. You have to wonder just how badly Inter would have lost this tie if it hadn’t been for their keeper.
84′ Figo and Anderson have a battle along the left wing, and Figo is called for the foul. Samuel then is called for a foul on Ronaldo, and they’ll have a free kick opportunity from about 35 yards out or so. Meanwhile, Rooney is off and he’ll be replaced by Park.
83′ Can Inter score twice in the last 10 minutes or so? I don’t see it happening, but you never know. United fans certainly won’t breathe easily until that final whistle blows.
81′ Long pass to Ibrahimovic, but Vidic is there to knock it out for a throw. Another pass into the box for Ibra, but Vidic touches it back to Van der Sar.
80′ Santon with a poor through-ball that finds Van der Sar.
78′ Giggs wins a corner and United will take their time setting this one up. Giggs sends in the corner and its knocked out to the edge of the box where Rooney lurks. He tries a long range effort and it takes a bounce off the turf. It ends up going just wide of the post, and the crowd signals its disappointment.
76′ Another long-range effort from Ibrahimovic, but this one is well off the mark.
75′ Anderson shows why he has yet to score in a United kit as he scuffs his shot wide of the post.
74′ Great delivery from Muntari as he sends a dangerous cross from the left wing to Ibrahimovic, who has a chance at the far post. He tries to chest it in, but it’s off his chin instead. His shot goes wide of the post, and he can’t believe that he missed that one. You get the feeling that if Inter were playing Juventus, then that one would have been in.
73′ Berbatov sends a great pass into the box for Ronaldo. Julio Cesar has to come out and deals with it nicely.
72′ Interesting point on commentary. Apparently, Inter have complained that Van der Sar’s yellow kit makes him look like a referee, and it’s a little confusing for the players out there. Not sure if I buy into that, especially since Van der Sar dwarfs almost all the refs in professional football, but the color scheme is nearly identical.
71′ Rooney fouls Maicon deep down the right flank, and he gets booked for the foul. Can’t argue with that one. Rooney was clearly late with his tackle. Figo will send it in from close to the end-line, and Van der Sar punches it away unconvincingly. It stays in the box, and Rooney is there to kick it away.
70′ Balotelli will come off for Figo and the 18 year old hears the boos from the crowd. Meanwhile, Scholes will be replaced by Anderson. Can’t argue with that move.
69′ Rooney fouls Maicon, and Inter will have a chance from about 35 yards out. Balotelli goes for goal, and it seems to be curving away from the far post. Van der Sar handles it easily, though.
68′ Adriano tries his luck from long-range and this one is even worse than Ibra’s effort a couple of minutes ago. Van der Sar will take those any day of the week. Especially when they get shanked into the cheap seats like that.
66′ Scholes tries to chip the pass over Zanetti and he appeals for a handball. No call, though, and Ibrahimovic tries an optimistic shot from long-range that isn’t even close.
65′ Balotelli easily gets past Evra down the right flank. Evra knocks it out for a corner, and Balotelli sends the corner into a sea of red. That’s not going to get it done.
64′ Rooney sends in a hard shot from long-range, and Julio Cesar is equal to it. It’s out for a corner, but nothing doing there.
62′ Ferguson should think about taking Scholes off. He has not played well today and they probably need a more defensive minded player in there to sit on this lead.
60′ Scholes gives it away, and Inter are on the attack. Great cross from Cambiasso from the right edge of the box and he finds Adriano behind Ferdinand. He shoots and beats Van der Sar easily, but hits the post. It almost trickles over the line, but just manages to stay out! Wow! That would have been a great way to enter the game. Meanwhile, back the other way and Rooney’s shot forces a diving save from Julio Cesar. He can’t control the rebound and Berbatov tries to pounce on it, but Julio Cesar, somehow, manages to stop it. Got all that?
57′ O’Shea catches Balotelli with an elbow to the face and he’s down on the pitch. Still no booking for O’Shea? How is that possible? Meanwhile, Stankovic is off for Inter and Adriano will come on.
56′ Cambiasso’s pass gets behind Vidic, but Ibra’s cross is too close to Van der Sar and he handles it easily. Evra then gives it away cheaply, but Balotelli returns the favor and gives it back to United. Meanwhile, Adriano is looking to come on for Inter.
55′ Scholes nearly gets through, but Samuel closes him off and it’s out for a goal-kick. Scholes and Samuel exchange some words and the temperature on the pitch has risen considerably.
54′ Free kick is from 30 yards out or so, and Ronaldo hits the wall. He’s been doing that a lot this year. Both on the pitch and off of it.
53′ Ronaldo goes down again, this time it’s Samuel that catches him and he gets booked for the foul. Samuel wasn’t complaining about that one, as he was a few inches from catching Ronaldo in the nether-regions.
52′ Balotelli fouls Ronaldo and Balotelli stands over him with his hands on his hips and glaring at the World Player of the Year. Balotelli is one to talk. Did you see his swan-dive against Roma?
51′ Cambiasso tries a shot from the edge of the box, and he forces a great save from Van der Sar. He can’t hold it, and Vidic has to head it to O’Shea, who clears it from danger.
50′ Ibrahimovic tries a shot from long-range, but it’s well off the mark.
48′ GOAL! A huge sigh of relief from Old Trafford as Giggs does a great job holding it as he runs across the edge of the box. He lays it off to Scholes, who sends it to Rooney on the left edge of the box. Rooney then threads a brilliant cross in front of goal for Ronaldo, who heads it past a helpless Julio Cesar!
47′ Ibrahimovic sends it through to Stankovic in the box, and he goes down after a bit of contact from Vidic. No penalty though, and the Inter fans are letting the ref have it. Looked a little soft, to tell you the truth.
46′ Inter kick off and we’re underway! United are attacking the Stretford end this half. Balotelli tries a long-range shot from the right edge of the box, and it’s wide of the near post. That was a rocket of a shot, and much closer to the near post than it originally looked once it left his foot.
46′ Inter will make a change as Muntari will come on for Vieira. That’s a mea culpa on Mourinho’s part.
46′ Barcelona are up 4-1 behind a brace from Henry, and goals from Eto’o and Messi. Looks like the Big Three really earned their money today. Roma is up 1-0, and Atletico/Porto are scoreless. If all these scores hold, then United, Barca, and Porto are through while Roma and Arsenal will play extra time.
United scored early and had to weather the inevitable Inter comeback. Some shaky play and sloppy passing nearly allowed Inter to get back into the game. You can bet that Sir Alex will be giving the hairdryer treatment to his players at halftime. As for Inter, they’ll have no choice but to keep attacking. It could leave them exposed in the back, which is what nearly happened when John O’Shea had his chance late in the half. We’ll see what adjustments Sir Alex and Jose make for the second half.
45′ + 1 Only a few seconds of added time before the halftime whistle blows. See you in the second half!
45′ Rooney cuts across the field from the left wing and gets away from Cambiasso. He tries a shot from distance, but it’s well wide of the mark.
44′ Another giveaway from United results in Maicon getting a shot on goal. Van der Sar handles it confidently, though.
43′ United need to weather this storm and get to halftime with this lead. Giggs tries to thread it through to Evra, but it’s long and Julio Cesar is there to cut it out.
42′ Another poor pass from United and Inter get a counterattack opportunity. Balotelli sends a cross from the left edge of the box to Vieira, but it’s over his head and out for a goal kick.
40′ Sloppy play from United as Rooney gives it away and then Vidic gives it away. They get exposed in the back as Balotelli sends a great pass through to Ibrahimovic, who makes the run down the right edge of the box. The striker has a golden chance as Van der Sar has to come out and cut off Ibra’s angle, but the shot goes agonizing wide of the far post.
39′ Ibrahimovic sends a wicked cross from the left edge of the box that gets behind Evra. Stankovic is unmarked behind him, but his shot goes over the crossbar.
38′ Fancy football from Rooney as he flicks a great pass into O’Shea’s path and he’s through on goal. His shot gets blocked by Julio Cesar, though, and O’Shea is shocked that he didn’t score. So is everyone else in the stadium, quite frankly.
37′ Stankovic sends a hard shot from long range that forces Van der Sar to make a flying save. It looks like Van der Sar gets a finger on it, but no corner is given.
34′ Giggs with some fancy footwork to get past two defenders. He sends it to Rooney down the right, but Santon knocks it out for a throw. On the restart, Carrick sends a deep cross from the right wing towards the far post, but Julio Cesar is there to take it.
33′ O’Shea fouls Balotelli again, and the ref calls him over. No card for him, though, as the ref wants to warn him. Balotelli sends the free kick in from about 35 yards out, but O’Shea heads it away.
32′ Good pressure from Inter until Zanetti’s pass to Balotelli is behind him and United take possession. Carrick is taken down by Stankovic for the foul. A few moments later, Vieira then fouls Giggs down the left wing. Quick free kick and Ronaldo takes a shot from long-range, but it’s easily blocked.
30′ United really need a second goal here. They’re turning it over very cheaply right now, and you can sense Inter’s momentum starting to build a little.
29′ Maicon sends it into the box, and Ibrahimovic gets a glancing header on goal that hits the woodwork! United were lucky that Ibrahimovic didn’t get all of it, otherwise this match would be tied!
28′ Long pass to Rooney, but Cordoba has him well marked. He knocks it out for a United throw-in. Poor pass from Giggs gives Inter the breakaway opportunity. Ibrahimovic gets fouled from about 40 yards out, so let’s see what Inter can do here.
26′ Poor pass from Scholes across the pitch gives Stankovic the gift. He tries to send it in to Ibrahimovic, but Ferdinand is there to intercept it. That could have been a horrible howler by Scholes.
25′ Balotelli is down and complaining after a soft foul. He gets booed for his troubles.
24′ Nothing doing on the corner as Balotelli’s corner curls out of play before it comes back into the box. You don’t see that everyday.
23′ Maicon with a good cross from the right wing and Vidic has to put it out for a corner. He claims Ibra pushed him, but no call from the ref.
20′ Stankovic takes a knock after he slides off the field of play and hits one of the billboards along the side of the pitch. He’s okay, though. Speaking of collisions, are you in All-State hands?
19′ Pressure from United and Evra’s pass finds Giggs in the box. He tries to send it back to Berbatov, and Berbatov is appealing for a handball on Zanetti. No call though, and Giggs has it in the box. His pass looks like it comes off Stankovic’s hand, but no call there, either. Will that make a difference?
18′ Ibrahimovic tries to split the defense, and he goes down like a ton of bricks on the edge of the box. The ref isn’t buying what he’s selling, though.
16′ Ronaldo with a nice cross from deep down the right wing and it’s slightly behind Rooney. He taps it to Berbatov, who makes the run behind him, but his shot lacks pace and is easily taken by Julio Cesar. Manchester United come back as Cambiasso messes up his clearance attempt and Giggs has it deep in the box. He sends a cross to Ronaldo, who’s at the top of the box, and he tries to volley it on target. It isn’t even close, though, and Inter escape.
14′ O’Shea with another foul on Balotelli, but this one is much further out than other one. Balotelli sends in the free kick and Vieira gets his head on it but pops it straight up into the air. Van der Sar is there and catches it easily.
13′ Inter attack, but Stankovic loses it. Great line in the latest Special 1 TV concerning the first leg: “Stankovic – you certainly did!”
12′ Long free kick is taken by Balotelli. It’s curving right towards Van der Sar’s arms, and he catches it easily.
11′ O’Shea fouls Balotelli, and it was a smart foul. Balotelli had acres of space behind O’Shea, and he could easily get past the slower defender.
10′ Nice pass threaded through traffic by Giggs to Berbatov, but the Bulgarian is offside. Giggs and Rooney come back as they try to play the one-two on the edge of the Inter box, but Giggs’ return pass is long and out of reach.
8′ Roma have scored and are level with Arsenal on aggregate.
7′ Looks like that gamble on starting Vieira has already backfired on Mourinho, huh? Nice pass into the box for Ibrahimovic, but he is double-covered and can’t do anything with it.
6′ O’Shea with a nice over-the-top pass to find Berbatov deep down the right wing. He sends it back to Ronaldo, but his cross to the far post eludes everyone and is out for an Inter throw.
4′ GOAL! The corner goes towards the far post and Vidic sheds Vieira like a bad habit. Vidic gets a free header on goal, and there’s nothing Julio Cesar can do! Great way to welcome yourself back, huh?
3′ Nothing doing on the corner as Julio Cesar cuts out the cross. Ronaldo comes back and wins a corner from Zanetti.
2′ Early pressure from United as Ronaldo does his stepovers on the edge of the box and sends it in to Berbatov. He loses it, and Ibrahimovic gets it in space in the United half. Poor pass from the Swede and Giggs cuts it out. He sends a brilliant through ball that nearly finds Rooney in the box. Cordoba puts it out for a corner.
1′ United kick off and we’re under way! Wolfgang Stark is our ref. Ronaldo takes a tumble early from Zanetti, but no whistle from the ref.
0′ I’m watching the match on ESPN2, and it’s available live, on-line, for free at ESPN360. Read our guide on live football if you have any questions about the service.
0′ Did they change the rules concerning the Premiership? Did they pass a rule saying that Liverpool’s 4-0 victory over Real Madrid yesterday will count in the league standings? They must have. Because how else can you explain why Liverpool fans suddenly think that they’re back in the title race? Beat Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday, and then we’ll talk, okay?
0′ The Chammmmmpions!
0′ Taking a quick look around the rest of the Champions League: Arsenal fans rejoice as Eboue and Bendtner will start for the Gunners against Roma. No Forlan for Atletico Madrid as he’ll be coming off the bench instead. No surprises for Barca as the Big Three will start (and Hleb, once again, will come off the bench – how’s that move working out for you, Alex?).
0′ Interesting bit of news from The Daily Mirror. Apparently Jose Mourinho and Phil Neville were spotted talking in the lobby of a hotel in Manchester. Were they reminiscing about 2004 (remember, it was Phil Neville’s foul that put Porto in the position for that last-minute free kick)? Were they exchanging information about United (Neville would be one to ask, especially with Giggs, Scholes, and Ferdinand in the lineup)? Or was Phil acting as a back-channel for Mourinho so that he could talk about leaving Inter after a couple of years to succeed Sir Alex at Old Trafford? Hmm…
0′ I’m posting this now, only because you can expect the announcers to talk about this ad naseum: Manchester United v. Porto, 2004. Let’s be diplomatic and say that it wasn’t Tim Howard’s best moment.
0′ It will be interesting to see what tactics Mourinho uses tonight. The teams that have done well at Old Trafford this year have been attacking teams that have played positive football as much as possible (like Newcastle, Blackburn, and Hull City). But we know that he likes to sit back and wait for the right opportunity to strike. With United’s home record, and their patience and persistence, that could be a huge mistake.
0′ The pressure isn’t just on United tonight. Inter hired Mourinho because they wanted to win the Champions League. Going out (once again) in the Round of 16 wasn’t what they had in mind when they brought The Special One to Milan. With Mourinho’s well-stated preference for life in England, a loss tonight could spell the end of his time at the San Siro.
0′ The stakes cannot be higher for this match. Manchester United’s dream of the Quintuple, as well as their goal of defending their Champions League title, could die tonight at the hands of old nemesis and possible future manager, Jose Mourinho.
0′ Welcome everyone to Soccerlens’ live coverage of the second-leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 as Inter Milan will pay a visit to Old Trafford and take on defending European Champions, Manchester United! I’m Victor and I’ll be your live-blogger!
It was a much better showing by Inter Milan this time around, and they had their chances to knock United out of the Champions League. They hit the woodwork twice, and they were much better at generating scoring chances than they were two weeks ago at the San Siro. Unfortunately for them, United’s chances found the back of the net this time around, and as such, Inter will have to answer a lot of questions about yet another premature exit from Europe. Then again, you could argue, correctly, that they would have lost by 4 or 5 had it not been for Julio Cesar’s brilliance. Ibrahimovic failed to convince the skeptics about his credentials, and if anything, he gave them even more ammunition. Balotelli showed that he isn’t quite ready for the big stage while Adriano mixed moments of brilliance with prolonged spells of indifference. They were shaky on defense and Mourinho’s decision to start Vieira over Muntari will certainly haunt him. The Special One will have a lot of work to do if he wants to mold this team into a European title contender. Assuming he’s still there next season, of course.
As for United, they certainly made their fans sweat, but they took care of business and advanced to the Quarterfinals. It wasn’t their best performance, and they needed a little bit of luck to get past Inter, but they did what they had to and as a result, the dream of a Quintuple remains alive. They’ll need to shore up some of their passing, and their defense was breached a couple of times, but United have a lot to be happy about. If they get a good draw in the Quarterfinals, then they could really be in business.
Man of the Match
Giggs seems to have discovered the Fountain of Youth this season. Once again, he was extremely influential in midfield while displaying the energy of someone half his age. He set up Vidic’s opener with a great corner kick and then helped set up the second goal with a nice run across the box to keep possession before Rooney teed up Ronaldo for the nail in Inter’s coffin. As for Inter, once again, the hero was Julio Cesar. United haters and Inter apologists can talk all about how Inter hit the post twice and could have advanced if both of those chances had gone in. However, if Toldo had been back there instead of Julio Cesar, then Inter would have lost by 4 or 5 goals. Cesar was the only reason why Inter were still in this thing in the first place.