Manchester United (Rooney 15′, Tevez 85′) 2-2 Porto (Rodriguez 4′, Mariano 89′)
Stadium: Old Trafford, England
Competition: UEFA Champions League, Quarterfinals, Leg #1
Date: 7 April 2009
Kickoff: 19:45 GMT, 14:45 EST
Manchester United’s hopes of repeating as European Champions took a huge blow as Porto earned a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford! Soccerlens brought you the action live! Click below for the live-blog and feel free to leave comments below!
Manchester United will continue on their quest to defend their European Championship. This time, they’ll face Porto, an old nemesis that knocked them out en route to their own title in 2004.
Manchester United are coming off an emotional, last-gasp victory against Aston Villa, so it will be interesting to see how much they have left in the tank for this match. They’ll want to win comfortably, thereby rendering the return leg academic. However, with the way they have struggled recently, I’m sure they’ll take any victory, no matter the circumstances. Dimitar Berbatov and Rio Ferdinand will be game-time decisions, as they look to recover from ankle and groin injuries, respectively. The good news for United, though, is that they’ll have Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes, and Nemanja Vidic back from Premiership-imposed suspensions. That could give United a huge advantage, especially with their depleted defense looking very ordinary lately and Carlos Tevez coming off two tough matches in the space of a week.
As for Porto, they took care of business over the weekend, easily dispatching of Guimaraes by a score of 3-1 despite missing their top European goalscorer, Lisandro Lopez, due to suspension. They’ll get Lopez, as well as midfielder Freddy Guarin back for this match, which should only help them as they hope to pick off a goal or two at Old Trafford. With the way United’s defense has been breached lately, Porto’s Big Three of Lopez, Hulk, and Lucho Gonzalez could surprise a lot of people, especially Sir Alex Ferguson.
Who will win between these two former European champions? Tune in and find out!
Manchester United: Van der Sar (c), O’Shea, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Fletcher, Carrick, Scholes, Ronaldo, Park, Rooney.
Subs: Foster, Neville, Giggs, Nani, Tevez, Macheda, Eckersley.
As expected, Ferdinand and Berbatov will miss out due to injuries. Four changes from the side that defeated Aston Villa over the weekend with Rooney, Scholes, and Vidic all returning to the lineup. Neville, Giggs, and Tevez will go to the bench, as will Nani, who will be replaced in the lineup by Park. Macheda’s reward for scoring the game-winner over the weekend will be a spot on the bench ahead of Welbeck.
Porto: Helton, Sapunaru, Rolando, Alves, Cissokho, L. Gonzalez (c), Fernando, Meireles, Lopez, Hulk, C. Rodriguez.
Subs: Nuno, Stepanov, Mariano, Sektioul, Farias, Madrid, Costa.
Looks like Porto’s skipper, Emanuel, will miss out after all. Same with Guarin. Porto will use the same starting XI that they used in their last European match, the 0-0 draw against Atletico Madrid in the second leg of the Round of 16. Their Big Three of Lopez, Hulk, and C. Rodriguez will start up front, which could give United’s beleaguered defense fits. Farias and Sektioul will give them firepower off the bench, while Stepanov and Madrid will be available to bolster the defense, if need be.
90′ + 5 There’s the whistle and we’re done! Can United dig themselves out of this hole? Join me tomorrow for Liverpool/Chelsea!
90′ + 4 Giggs will take it and that probably won’t sit well with Ronaldo. Especially since his effort sails way over the crossbar. Helton gets booked for time wasting, although I’m sure he could care less about that.
90′ + 3 Fernando with a poor tackle on Ronaldo on the edge of the box, and United will have one last chance to steal this one. Costa has to come off after suffering a bloody nose, and Madrid will come on.
90′ That’s another huge blunder from Neville in the span of a little over 48 hours. I hate to say it, but I think he’s finished.
89′ GOAL! So much for that! Porto fight back as they catch United’s defense sleeping once again! Mariano gets a great cross from Lucho Gonzalez from the right and he catches Neville out of position at the far post. Van der Sar has to come out for it and Mariano calmly slides it past him for the equalizer! Could that be the goal that ends United’s Champions League title defense?
87′ Cissokho with a hard-charging run down the left and his cross gets picked off by Van der Sar.
86′ By the way, Ferguson didn’t crack a smile at all after Tevez’s goal. I think it’s safe to say that he’s NOT happy that it’s come to this.
85′ GOAL! From nothing, United score the goal and it could be a huge one! Neville throws it into the box from deep inside Porto territory to Rooney. He sends in a nice back-heel flick to Tevez, and he puts it in from close-range! What a goal and yet another clutch score from Tevez!
84′ Rooney looks like he’s won a corner, but he lackadaisically lets it go over the end-line. Goal-kick for Porto.
83′ Corner to Porto and they take it short. Cissokho tries to tee up Alves inside the box, but he’s called for a foul against Vidic.
82′ Rooney makes a great run into the box, and he looks like he has a great chance, but Fernando tackles him and saves the day. Rooney wants a foul, but he won’t get one. Fernando has been outstanding today.
79′ Porto will make a change as Meireles will come off for Costa and Rodriguez will come off for Mariano. Cristian Rodriguez takes his time coming off. Don’t think Sir Alex won’t have something to say about that to the ref.
78′ Lopez shoots from long-range, but it’s a tame effort that Van der Sar easily takes.
77′ Neville with a great cross from the right flank towards Rooney, who is all alone in front of goal. He can’t get his head on it, though, otherwise he would have had a great chance there.
76′ Carrick sends in a free kick towards Ronaldo on the edge of the box, but Alves touches it with his hand. He gets booked for the handball, and he’s lucky he was just outside the box. Terrible night for Alves. Luckily for him, it doesn’t come back to haunt him as Ronaldo’s free kick hits the wall.
75′ Hulk shakes Evra, but Tevez is there to tackle him on the edge of the end-line. Hulk wants a foul, but the ref treats him like the evil Hebner did during the Andre the Giant match. He looks the other way.
74′ Great tackle from Fernando stops Ronaldo at the center-circle. He would have been away if not for that tackle.
73′ Tevez wins a corner. Let’s see what they can do with this one. Giggs’ delivery isn’t his best and Evra is called for a foul on Hulk.
72′ Gary Neville and Tevez will come on and Scholes and Evans will come off. Not the best of nights for either Evans or Scholes. Sorry Macheda fans. There will be no repeat of Sunday.
71′ Rooney knocks down the long pass and sends it to Ronaldo. He half-volleys it on target, but it’s right into Helton’s arms.
70′ Scholes commits, what else, a handball on the edge of the box. Luckily, he stays in the game this time. Maybe not for long, as Tevez looks like he’s coming on soon.
69′ Meireles sends in the corner and it’s too Alves. He can’t handle it, but its out to Cissokho. He sends a long-range shot that forces another great save from Van der Sar. Well, Van der Sar came to play today.
68′ Lopez gets a shot from the center of the box and it goes through Evans’ legs. Looks like it may have taken a deflection, but Van der Sar makes a great diving save to concede the corner.
67′ Porto on the counterattack after Fletcher can’t control Carrick’s pass. Hulk gets it deep down the left flank, but O’Shea does well to close him down and take it away.
64′ Cissokho’s heads it up for grabs in his own box, and Fletcher tries to lob it towards Rooney, but Helton collects it. I thought Fletcher should have shot that one, actually.
63′ Hulk gets it on the counterattack, and United’s defense is a bit unsettled. Hulk decides to go it alone, though, and his curling shot is wide of the near post.
61′ Alves with a pass back to the keeper, and everyone is holding their breaths! It’s no big deal this time, as his pass finds Helton easily.
60′ Giggs sends in the corner and Vidic gets a strong header that forces a great save from Helton. Giggs gets it back and sends in another cross towards Vidic, but this header is off target.
59′ Giggs sends in the free kick from the left edge of the box, and he immediately causes problems. O’Shea gives it away, though, and Porto are out of trouble for now. Rooney comes back and fires a shot from long-range that Helton has to tip over the crossbar.
58′ Evra draws the foul as Sapunaru blocks him down the left. Meanwhile, Park will come off for Giggs.
54′ Ronaldo with the stepovers down the right, but his shot is tame and easily stopped by Helton. Back the other way, as Lopez’s shot is deflected towards the end-line. Van der Sar dives to prevent the corner.
53′ Park with a strong cross into the box from the left, but it’s cleared away before Rooney can pounce on it.
52′ United look much more composed, thus far. Maybe the hairdryer worked?
51′ Van der Sar makes a curious decision to dive at the ball and punch it, even though he didn’t look like he was under pressure. He punches it towards a teammate, though, and United are out of danger. Back the other way, and Park with a hard shot on target that Helton bobbles, but he keeps it in front of him and handles it on the rebound.
50′ Hulk goes down from the Vidic challenge inside the box, and Hulk wants a penalty. No penalty, though, and Hulk looked more like Bruce Banner there.
49′ Rodriguez and Meireles try to play a one-two, but the return pass is over Rodriguez’s head and Van der Sar takes it.
47′ Rooney centers it to Ronaldo, but no fewer than three Porto defenders converge on him, and Fernando is the one that knocks it away.
46′ United kick off and we’re underway! No changes for either team, although I’d wager that Sir Alex brought out the hairdryer at halftime.
46′ United have to get another goal, since this scoreline is as good as a loss for them. Porto have been very good at home, and United can’t count on getting a win there.
46′ I think United’s biggest problem on defense is fatigue. They’ve relied on that combination of O’Shea, Vidic, Ferdinand (or Evans), and Evra for so many matches already, that I think they’re starting to break down. Brown’s absence has been big, as has Rafael’s. Meanwhile, Neville is, at best, a part-time player right now. If you want to see a telling statistic, look no further that the fact that they’ve already given John O’Shea 29 starts in all competitions this season. He only made 15 all last season. I’m not dogging on O’Shea, but if he’s starting that many matches, then it’s not a good sign for the state of the team.
Terrible first half for United as they are truly fortunate to be level. The defense has been shaky, the midfield has been overrun, and the best pass Rooney got all match long was the one from Alves. Worse, they have been very sloppy with their passing and have given it away cheaply. Porto have done an excellent job putting pressure on the United defense and they have controlled every facet of the game, thus far. Sir Alex Ferguson will have his work cut out for him, and I suspect that there will be some changes in the second half.
45′ + 1 One minute will be added on. Park, who has been very poor so far, works on Sapunaru, but his cross goes out for a goal-kick. Evra gives it away to Hulk, but Evans knocks it out for a throw. Porto are very slow to take the throw, and they won’t get a chance as there’s the whistle. See you in the second half!
45′ Hulk and Rooney fight for the ball. Cue the Shrek vs. Incredible Hulk jokes. Rooney commits the foul and Porto will have a chance from about 35 yards out. Free kick goes into the box, but Van der Sar is out to take it easily.
43′ Lots of pressure from Porto here, but United with some stout defending to deny them.
41′ Back the other way, and Van der Sar with a terrible clearance that, luckily for him, doesn’t get him in trouble. Meireles then takes a long-range shot and it’s well off the mark.
40′ Evra with an inviting cross from the left, and Scholes and Ronaldo both go for it. Scholes gets the touch, but it’s over the crossbar and out for a goal-kick.
39′ Nice long pass to Ronaldo down the right, and he heads it into Fletcher’s path. His shot is knocked out for a corner. Rooney sends in the corner, and it’s a poor one that’s cleared away from danger.
37′ Subs are warming up for United – Sir Alex must be fuming. Can’t blame him, what with the way his team has been playing so far.
36′ Rooney sends it down the right flank to Fletcher, and he tries to whip the corner into the box, but Helton is out to take it.
35′ Gonzalez finds Rodriguez in the box, and he takes a tumble, but it looks like he slipped and he isn’t appealing for a penalty.
34′ Park finds Fletcher in the box, and he goes down in the box. No penalty, though, and Fletcher isn’t complaining all that vociferously.
30′ Another chance for Porto as United gives it away again. O’Shea commits the gaffe this time, and it leads to a Hulk shot that goes off Evans and is out for a corner. Wait! No corner is given as the refs ruled that the shot went wide on its own. Bad call there.
28′ Lopez with a great move to shake O’Shea on the left edge of the box. He centers it to Meireles and he sends a long-range shot from the edge of the box that forces another great save from Van der Sar. On the corner, Rodriguez heads it on target, but Van der Sar makes the diving save.
26′ Good buildup by United is short-circuited by a Ronaldo giveaway. Porto counterattack, but O’Shea cuts out a pass intended for Rodriguez, and it’s a good thing he did, since Rodriguez would have been all alone on the left edge of the box.
24′ Hulk takes on Vidic and Vidic actually looks afraid to close him down. Hulk sends in a dangerous cross deep down the left flank, but it’s cleared away by the United defense.
22′ What’s going on with the English teams today? Villarreal are leading Arsenal, 1-0, on a Marcos Senna goal. Wow.
21′ Porto are playing them off the pitch right now. There’s no reason why they should be level right now.
20′ Another corner for Porto and Rodriguez is completely unmarked in the box. He can’t get his head on it, though, otherwise that would have been a great chance for him.
19′ Porto with another chance as Lisandro Lopez just misses a chance at the post.
18′ Hulk wins the corner and they get another good chance. Meireles’ corner is knocked around and it takes a deflection towards Gonzalez. He heads it on target, but it’s right into Van der Sar’s grateful arms.
16′ Interestingly, during the buildup to that last goal, United had already given it away as they continue to play sloppy ball. Luckily, Alves was there to give them the gift.
15′ GOAL! One mistake begets another. I guess Porto felt so bad about that first goal that they wanted to even things up. Alves with a terrible giveaway as he tries to give it back to Helton, and he must be colorblind because Rooney is standing right there. He easily beats Helton and he’ll never get an easier chance than that!
14′ O’Shea sends in a great cross from the right edge of the box and Ronaldo heads it down towards the goal. He forces a great save from Helton and it’s out for a corner. Nothing doing on the corner as Porto clear it away from danger.
13′ Meireles sends in the corner, but Van der Sar easily intercepts it.
12′ Another giveaway from United’s defense and Hulk pounces on it. Fletcher gets called for the foul and Porto will have a chance from 35 yards out or so. Bruno Alves taps it back to Hulk, and his effort is deflected off the United wall for a corner.
10′ Carrick with a careless touch on the edge of the box cuts out a promising attack.
8′ Evans will get a lot of grief for that howler, but Ronaldo did him no favors. He could have sent it long to Rooney, who had some real estate in front of him, but he gave it away, which then forced Evans into his blunder.
7′ Another good chance for Porto as they play excellent ball around the United box and Lopez gets the shot on target. Van der Sar makes a diving save to deny him.
4′ GOAL! Oh no! Terrible defensive lapse from Evans as he gives it away in his own box. Cristian Rodriguez pounces on it and he beats a helpless Van der Sar easily!
3′ Corner goes off Ronaldo, and Porto will do it again. Corner goes to Ronaldo again and he heads it away from danger.
2′ Ronaldo and Evra exchange the ball along the left flank. Evra launches a long cross towards the far post, but Helton is out to collect it. Back the other way, and Lisandro Lopez gets some room on the edge of the box. He takes a shot as Evans is slow to close him down, and he forces a great save from Van der Sar.
1′ Porto kick off and we’re underway! Konrad Plautz is our referee.
0′ According to the BBC, the Old Trafford faithful are still buzzing about that Macheda goal. Additionally, when the subs were announced, the Man Utd. player who got the loudest ovation was not their skipper, their all-time appearances leader, or even the forward who has become a cult hero over the last two years with the fans. It was the 17-year old Macheda. Wow!
0′ The Chammmm-pionnnnnnnnnns!
0′ Ouch! All the buildup concerning Robert Pires will be for naught as the former Arsenal favorite will be coming off the bench (if at all). That can’t make him happy.
0′ Getting Vidic back should help United immensely. United had all kinds of trouble with Villa’s crosses into the box on Sunday, but Porto probably won’t try that since their strikers don’t have the kind of height that Big John Carew or Agbonlahor have. They might use the same tactic that Liverpool used so well at Old Trafford a few weeks ago and play long passes to their speedy forwards.
0′ Hulk, in particular, seems to have caught Ferguson’s eye. Apparently, he’s nicknamed “Hulk” because he looks like Lou Ferrigno. Not because he looks like Hulk Hogan.
0′ The pressure is on United to win and win big. Porto actually come into this match in better form and they have an impressive European resume, to boot. As such, Porto, with their offensive capabilities, could really pose problems for United, especially in the back, where their defense has been extremely charitable as of late.
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So much for United getting a favorable draw, huh? Manchester United started terribly and were lucky not to be down by two or three at halftime. United did better in the second half, but once again, it was their shaky defense that cost them. They were hoping to win this match by two or three. Now, they’ll have to go to Portugal and get a win (or a 3-3 or higher draw) on Porto’s home turf, where they’ve been very tough to beat. United certainly have their work cut out for them, and if they don’t snap out of their funk, then they could miss out on the Premiership, Champions League, and FA Cup. Who would have thunk it?
As for Porto, they’re starting to make a habit of striking late at Old Trafford. They outplayed United for the entire first half, and seemed content to sit on their draw for most of the second half, a decision that nearly cost them. However, they showed their attacking prowess, and served notice to the rest of Europe that they should never have been overlooked they way that they were when the Quarterfinal draw came out.
Man of the Match:
Unlike his more celebrated counterparts in red, Fernando played well the entire game and didn’t put forth a wrong foot all day. He consistently shut down both Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney and really impressed as the holding midfielder for his squad. As for United, even though they played poorly, Rooney and Van der Sar had good afternoons. Rooney was involved in both goals for United and was his usual, ebullient self, while Van der Sar made some great saves to keep United in the game. Otherwise, this game could have really gotten out of hand for United.