Inter Milan v. Manchester United
Stadium: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy.
Competition: UEFA Champions League, Round of 16
Date: 24 February 2009
Kickoff: 19:45 GMT, 14:45 ET
Inter Milan and Manchester United battled to a scoreless draw in their much hyped Champions League matchup! Soccerlens brought you the action live! Click below for the live-blog and feel free to leave comments below!
Jose Mourinho claims that he was happy to draw Manchester United in the Round of 16. It’s hard to argue with his track record against Sir Alex Ferguson. Mourinho’s Porto squad eliminated Manchester United en route to the 2004 UEFA Champions League title. Additionally, Mourinho’s Chelsea squads had a lot of success against United, defeating them five times in 9 career meetings in England, including a 1-0 triumph in the 2007 F.A. Cup Final. Clearly, The Special One knew a little about how to defeat the Red Devils, which is probably one of the reasons why his name comes up so often as a possible replacement for Sir Alex if and when if finally decides to step down.
However, it’s strange that any club would want to draw the defending champions in the Round of 16, especially one that seems to be rounding into the form the way Manchester United is. Until conceding against Blackburn over the weekend, United had kept a record 14 consecutive clean sheets in the Premiership. They also opened up a seven point lead against Liverpool and look set to win their third consecutive Premiership crown. With a Carling Cup Final next weekend and a quarterfinal date with either Fulham or Swansea in the F.A. Cup, the dream of a Quadruple is still very much alive.
Despite their excellent results, Manchester United have had several injury woes, and the biggest one occurred on Saturday as young centre-back Jonny Evans aggravated an old ankle injury and looks like a major doubt for this match. They were counting on him to provide cover for United as Nemanja Vidic serves a one-match ban for his red card in the World Club Championships. With Wes Brown, Gary Neville, and John O’Shea all injured as well, Sir Alex could be looking at giving young James Chester a baptism by fire or else he could play someone like Darren Fletcher or Michael Carrick out-of-position.
Neither prospect is a particularly tempting one, especially with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Adriano leading the Inter attack. However, it could end up being much ado about nothing. Mourinho has never been known as an attacking manager, and will probably stay true to his colors. As such, the tie could come down to who wins the battle in the midfield. With excellent ball-winners like Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti, sharp passers like Dejan Stankovic, great dribblers like Maxwell, and “been-there-done-that” veterans like Patrick Vieira and Luis Figo, Inter’s midfield will be very difficult to handle. United will probably rely on some variation of the 4-5-1 that served them well last season, so we could be in for a heavyweight slugfest of the highest magnitude.
Who will draw first blood in this marquee matchup? Will it the defending champs? Or will the Special One get the best of Sir Alex once again? Tune in and find out!
Inter Milan: Julio Cesar, Maicon, Santon, Rivas, Chivu, Cambiasso, Muntari, Zanetti (c), Stankovic, Adriano, Ibrahimovic.
Subs: Toldo, Maxwell, Cordoba, Balotelli, Burdisso, Cruz, Figo.
No surprises for Inter as they go with their usual suspects. They’ll use the same lineup, for the most part, that defeated AC Milan a week or so ago. No Samuel, as he’s injured. Stankovic will replace Maxwell, who started over the weekend against Bologna. Ditto for Chivu, who comes in for Cordoba. Mourinho has plenty of late-match options. He has a highly regarded young striker in Balotelli, a versatile left-sided player in Maxwell, a good threat from set plays in Burdisso, and a grizzled veteran in Figo.
Manchester United: Van der Sar, O’Shea, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Carrick, Giggs (c), Park, Fletcher, Ronaldo, Berbatov.
Subs: Foster, Nani, Scholes, Fabio, Gibson, Tevez, Rooney.
Very interesting lineup for Sir Alex. No Rooney or Tevez, despite their experience and their willingness to track back and win balls in midfield. O’Shea has been cleared to start and will start at right-back. Evans will has also been cleared to start and will man the middle with Ferdinand. They go with five in midfield, although Ronaldo will probably play in a more advanced position to support Berbatov.
Thanks to everyone who followed along! Arsenal held on to take control of their tie with Roma. Barcelona battled back on a Thierry Henry goal and snagged a valuable away goal against Lyon. Porto put themselves in a great position by drawing 2-2 at Atletico Madrid. Should be another great match-day tomorrow! Join me tomorrow for Liverpool vs. Real Madrid! Until then!
90′ + 4 Ronaldo takes it from about 30 yards out. Ronaldo gets it around the wall and Cesar looks like he’s wrongfooted. He manages to get enough of his body on it, and keeps it out of the net. On the replay, it looks like he was fooled by the ball’s trajectory and he flailed his arms at the ball, hoping to get a hand on it. He missed, but managed to block it with his chest. Wow! There’s the whistle and we’re done!
90′ + 3 Ronaldo gets fouled on the edge of the box by Cordoba. He gets booked for his troubles, and United will have one last chance to steal this one.
90′ + 2 Rooney goes to ground and draws the foul near the Inter box. They take it quickly and Rooney ends up sending a cross from the right wing that is easily cut out by Cesar.
90′ Three minutes will be added on. Rooney gets it deep down the left wing, and he tries to lift a cross into the center of the box. Chivu knocks it away, though. Ibra lays it off to Stankovic, and he sends a long-range effort that is over the crossbar.
89′ Great long ball from Berbatov and he nearly springs Rooney. Cesar and Cordoba get their signals crossed, but Cesar just manages to get a leg on it before Rooney can pounce. That could have saved the game for Inter right there.
88′ Rooney with a full head of steam and he slides in on Cambiasso. It looks like he’s just trying to keep the ball, but the ref books Rooney for the foul.
86′ Maicon with a dangerous cross from the right wing, and O’Shea makes a great clearance. Meanwhile, Balotelli fouls Ronaldo, and Balotelli is not happy about it. He gets in Ronaldo’s face, and Ronaldo just smirks. At least he didn’t blow him a kiss.
85′ Foul on Cruz, and Inter will have a chance from about 35 yards out. It’s dead center, which should make it more interesting. Ibra takes it and it’s off the wall. It looks like it comes off Evans, but the refs say it was off Cambiasso. It’s close, but Ibra is incensed.
83′ Rooney is coming in for Park. Is it too little too late?
82′ Park gives it away to Maicon, and his cross looks like it might have hit Evra’s arm. No call, though, and Ibra nearly gets on the end of one. He can’t get it on target, though, and Ferdinand heads it out. On the corner, Ibrahimovic flicks it to Cambiasso, who is at the far post. Cambiasso has a great chance, but he’s falling over as he tries to knock it in, and he can’t get any power on it. Van der Sar easily makes the save and tries to spring the counter-attack.
80′ Terrible clearance by Santon as Ronaldo gives him some half-hearted pressure. United cut out his clearance attempt and win a corner. Giggs sends it in, but Evans is called for a foul on Cesar.
77′ Two changes for Inter as Adriano comes off for Balotelli and Muntari is off for Julio Cruz. Meanwhile, Berbatov gets a shot on goal, but it’s a tight angle and it hits the side of the net.
76′ Adriano wrong-foots Ferdinand, but Ferdinand recovers and knocks it away. Giggs makes the move on Chivu and tries to create space. Cordoba is there to block the shot, and Carrick’s follow up is over the crossbar.
75′ Inter charge as Ibra finds Adriano outside the box. He sends it out to Muntari, but his cross is poor and easily taken by Van der Sar.
72′ Cambiasso with a dangerous cross from the left edge of the box, and he finds Adriano. Good defense from Evans, though, and Adriano can’t get control of it. Carrick then knocks it away.
71′ Park nearly breaks through, but good defense from Inter results in a throw-in for United. Giggs and Fletcher play a nice one-two and he nearly gets it through to Berbatov. It’s out of his reach, though, and Muntari tries to get it away. Fletcher tackles him late, and he gets booked for the foul.
70′ Giggs nearly threads it through to Berbatov, but it’s long.
69′ O’Shea is called for a foul on Ibrahimovic, and they’ll have a good opportunity from about 30 yards out or so to the right of goal. Cambiasso and Maicon are debating, and Maicon takes it. It’s a poor effort as it curls around the wall, but isn’t even close to the far post.
68′ Ronaldo works on Santon, but Santon does a good job this time and gets between Ronaldo and the ball. Ronaldo falls on him and he’s called for a foul.
67′ Giggs’ corner is cleared by Inter.
66′ Great move from Ronaldo as he gets around Santon and slides a great cross across the goal that manages to elude both Park and Berbatov. It’s out for a corner. Very close to a goal there.
65′ Muntari sends a cross from the left flank to the far post where Ibrahimovic gets a free header. He tries to send it to Cambiasso in the middle, but it’s just behind him. Muntari goes down on the edge of the box, and he wants a foul on O’Shea. On the replay, it looks like O’Shea already had his boot out and Muntari just slipped.
63′ Ronaldo goes to ground, but no foul this time. Inter build up their attack and Zanetti gets it on the right wing. Evra does a great job knocking it away, though.
62′ Good long pass from Fletcher to Berbatov into the box. He lays it back to Park, but Park gets a hand on it and is called for the infraction.
59′ Stankovic with another poor cross and it’s out of a play for a United throw. Maicon with a clever run, but Carrick takes it away. Maicon slides into Carrick and he gets booked for a foul. Didn’t seem like much of a foul there.
57′ Chivu is booked for a hard foul on Berbatov.
56′ Maicon sends it in, and Van der Sar can’t hold it. Cambiasso takes a shot, but the whistle blows and it’s a foul on Adriano. Long pass to Ibrahimovic and he’s through to goal. The refs flag him offside, though, and it looks like he was slightly on. It’s close, but the refs blow it dead. Poor lapse in concentration by United, as it looks like they just forgot about Ibra.
55′ Ibra gets around O’Shea and makes a good run towards goal. He tries to thread a cross, but Ferdinand is there to cut it out. Ibra gets it back, but O’Shea knocks it out for a corner.
54′ Park lifts a long cross from the left flank, but it’s out for a goal kick.
53′ Good takeaway from Zanetti after Evra makes a good run down the left flank.
52′ Evra sends a low cross into the box, but Park can’t get to it.
51′ Stankovic tries a long range effort, but it’s well wide of the post.
50′ Evra is down on the ground after Zanetti steps on him. Not what United needs right now. Fabio is warming up and the stretcher is out.
49′ Nothing doing on the corner as Stankovic is called for a foul on Evra.
48′ Great chance for Inter as Cambiasso sends a great cross from the left wing and Ibra lays it off to Adriano. He has a golden chance in the box, but his shot is just wide. Wow. Much different Inter side so far, though. Zanetti sends a cross from right wing and Adriano goes down in the box. He wants a penalty on Ferdinand, but no call from the ref. It looked pretty soft, and Adriano isn’t even protesting too vociferously.
47′ Muntari sends it to Ibra down the left flank. Ferdinand is on him like a cheap suit and Ibra tries to send it into the box for Adriano. Carrick clears it, though.
46′ Inter kick off and we’re underway! Muntari gets the ball deep down the left flank, but he gets easily dispossessed by O’Shea. Not a great match for Muntari so far.
46′ Have to say that Ronaldo has been very good so far, despite not finding the back of the net. He’s threatened to score on several occasions, and he isn’t going to ground nearly as much as usual. Meanwhile, Cordoba will come on the beleaguered Rivas.
46′ Here’s a shocker! Barcelona are losing to Lyon on a Juninho free kick. Wow! Meanwhile, Arsenal are up after Mexes was called for a penalty against Van Persie. Van Persie (and not Nicklas “I should take ever penalty shot” Bendtner – okay, he didn’t say that, but still) then slotted home the penalty. Atletico leads Porto, 2-1, at the half. Maxi Rodriguez and Diego Forlan have scored for Atletico.
Well, Inter can look at this first half in one of two ways. Either they can be really upset at how United dominated them, or they can take heart in the fact that they took United’s best shot and kept the scoreline at 0-0. Inter’s defense was very shaky, and their offense has yet to put any kind of sustained pressure on United’s injury-riddled backline. Mourinho will have some decisions to make at halftime. Rivas, in particular, was very poor in the first half, and it’s clear that they miss Samuel. As for United, Sir Alex can’t ask for more than what they’re doing right now. A lucky break here or there and they could be up by one or two.
45′ + 2 Carrick is called for a foul on Maicon, and Inter will have a good chance from about 30 yards away. Mourinho doesn’t even want to watch and heads towards the dressing room. Man, I would not want to be wearing an Inter kit right now. Cambiasso tees it up, but United clear it. There’s the whistle and we’re at halftime.
45′ + 1 Great break from Inter and Santon tries a shot from range. It’s slightly blocked, though, and Van der Sar has it.
45′ One minute will be added on.
43′ Maicon is called for a foul on Park, and Toldo and Figo are giving the ref an earful from the bench. Ref shows a card, and it’s on Toldo. Wow. You don’t see that very often. Anyway, Muntari is on the ground after taking a kick to the nether regions from O’Shea.
40′ Giggs wins a corner with his hustle. Chivu looks frustrated and wants a foul on Giggs, but really, he’s probably angry at being outhustled by a 35 year old. He sends it in, but Cesar punches it away.
39′ Ibrahimovic with a good cross from the left edge of the box, towards Adriano at the near post, but Van der Sar cuts it out.
37′ Ibrahimovic with a nice through-ball to Adriano that O’Shea just gets a toe on. Otherwise, that could have been a great chance for Inter.
36′ I wish more managers wore scarves. Mourinho looks sharp. Meanwhile, Ibrahimovic sends a low cross into the box from the left wing to Stankovic. He tries a fancy back heel shot, but Van der Sar handles it easily.
34′ Santon fouls Berbatov down the right wing. United play it short and Inter are able to clear it away.
33′ Long ball to Ibrahimovic, but he’s ruled offside. Nice flick from Muntari to Maicon, and he sends a dangerous cross to Adriano in the box. O’Shea is there to head it away, but that’s more like what Mourinho wants to see from his Inter squad.
32′ This one is about 30 yards out or so. Close to where Ronaldo hit that kick against Blackburn on Saturday. This time, he hits the wall. Can’t hit them all, I guess.
31′ Berbatov goes to ground as Maicon hits him with a footsweep. Inter are really getting frustrated and accuse United of diving, but you can’t argue with the calls. They’re clearly drawing contact.
29′ Ronaldo gets a free header in the center of the box, but it’s just wide of the mark. Very poor defending from Inter so far.
28′ Nothing doing on the corner. Ronaldo draws a foul as Stankovic clips him from about 30 yards out. Great free kick from Ronaldo, and Cesar makes a wonderful save to push it wide.
26′ Giggs gets free as Rivas gambles and falls down. Giggs is in by himself, but Cesar closes his angle down very well and makes the save. Wow!
24′ Evans’ makes a mistake and gives it to Ibrahimovic on the edge of the box. Evans makes up for his miscue, though, and closes him down well. Ibra tries the shot, but Evans is there to block it.
23′ United play the corner around the pitch and Evra tees up Berbatov for a header. His header is strong, but it’s just wide of the far post.
22′ Ronaldo with a great entry pass into the box for Giggs, and he nearly has a golden chance, but he doesn’t see the ball until it’s too late. It’s out for a corner.
21′ Fletcher with a hard tackle on Santon. No foul, though, and he sends it to Ronaldo. He makes a run down the right wing, but gives it away.
19′ Berbatov is played through and he’s on-side. He tries to center it to Park, but Cesar and his defenders do a good job to keep it out of the goal. Inter are really living dangerously right here.
18′ Ibrahimovic tries a shot from long range, and he’s off by a mile. Adriano and Stankovic are glaring at him. Evans muffs his header and pops it right up to Adriano. He tries to tee up Santon, but his shot is blocked and Van der Sar takes it.
17′ Berbatov with a nice back-heel to Park in the box, but Cesar is out to collect it.
15′ Maicon with a strong run across the field, but his entry pass to Ibrahimovic goes over the Swede’s head.
14′ Giggs hits the wall from about 30 yards out or so. Inter escape again.
13′ Carrick with a strong run towards the box, and Zanetti trips him. Zanetti takes exception and accuses Carrick of diving. On the replay, it looks like Zanetti definitely got him on the leg, and Carrick was already at full speed. This one will be very dangerous.
11′ Good counterattack from Inter after Zanetti wins the ball from Berbatov. Stankovic tries a shot from long-range, but he’s not even close. Very poor shooting from Inter so far.
10′ Ronaldo with his stepovers works on Santon, but Santon does a good job and closes him down. Ronaldo tries to take the shot anyway, but it’s well off the mark.
9′ Inter with good pressure as Stankovic and Ibrahimovic work the ball into the box. Stankovic lays it off to Muntari, who’s deep down the left wing, but his cross is poor and is out for a goal kick.
8′ Fletcher feeds Park near the box, and Rivas is called for a foul. This free kick will be a little further out than the other one was, but it’s more in the middle, so we’ll see what Ronaldo can do here. Good free kick from Ronaldo as it gets around the wall but is just wide of the post. Ronaldo looks like he came to play today.
7′ Ronaldo loses the ball after Santon makes a great tackle, but Fletcher gets it back. His cross towards Ronaldo is over his head, though, and Inter will have a throw-in
6′ Giggs sends in the corner and Ronaldo has a golden opportunity. His free header looks like it’s going in, but Cesar just gets a glove on it! Wow! I have no idea how that one stayed out.
5′ Evra wins a corner after taking on Zanetti. Hard tackle from the Inter captain that draws cheers from the fans.
4′ O’Shea gives it away near his own box, but Adriano gives it back to United. Sloppy play from Park gives it back to Inter. Maybe the nerves are a factor early on.
3′ Giggs and Ronaldo are talking about the free kick, but I think we all know who’s taking it. After seeing Ronaldo put that one through against Blackburn, I can’t blame him for being confident here. Ronaldo takes the shot and it gets past the wall, but it’s right to Cesar. He ends up making a comfortable save.
2′ Lot of possession early on for Inter, but United break via Ronaldo. He gets fouled by Chivu, and United will have an early free kick chance from about 30 yards out or so.
1′ Man Utd. kick off and we’re underway! Luis Medina Cantalejo is our ref. Thank God it’s not Howard Webb.
0′ The teams emerge and we’re almost ready to go! The players seem pretty psyched, and even Ronaldo has a bit of a smile on his mug. The only player not smiling? Fletch. Poor guy.
0′ Two players that could really do a lot to shed their respective labels as players that don’t show in big games? Dimitar Berbatov and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Let’s see if they show up today.
0′ Wonder what kind of wine the two gaffers will exchange after the match. Merlot? Cabernet? Wine-in-a-Box?
0′ These are the Chammmmpions! Who will be chammmmmmpions? Only one team can be … The Chammmmmmpion!
0′ Quick trip around the CL. Barcelona, to the surprise of absolutely no one, will start their Big Three of Eto’o, Henry, and Messi. Hleb, who I’m sure is really regretting that “dream move” to Barca, will be on the bench. Speaking of his former team, they’ll go with Nicklas “I should start every match” Bendtner and everyone’s favorite Gunner, Emmanuel Eboue. Lyon will bring back Juninho and Benzema after resting them over the weekend. Totti starts for Roma, after all, while Julio Baptista will make his return to the Emirates. Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid and Porto will start most of their big guns. Could be a wonderful day of football!
0′ Four players who have played for both Inter and Man Utd? Mikael Silvestre, Laurent Blanc, Paul Ince, and everyone’s favorite Red Devil, Juan Sebastian Veron. Hopefully, that’s not a harbinger of things to come for United fans.
0′ Another interesting thing to watch will be how Darren Fletcher plays. Clearly, he’ll be distracted after that horrific home invasion that occurred earlier today. What a terrible thing for anyone to have to go through.
0′ Very interesting lineup for Sir Alex. I was convinced that either Evans or O’Shea would start, so I’m not surprised to see them both suit up. For me, the point of contention is with Berbatov starting up front on his own (although Ronaldo will be close behind him in support). I was convinced Sir Alex would go with Rooney and Tevez and ask them to spend most of the match in the midfield or back on defense like they did against Barcelona last season. The drawback, obviously, is that they wouldn’t be in a good position to score. I guess Sir Alex realized that and decided to go with Berbatov instead. I guess he won’t be satisfied with a scoreless draw today. Otherwise, I would have thought that Berbatov would have been the last guy to start.
0′ I think it’s safe to say that this is, clearly, the match of the day. Nevertheless, I’ll try and keep an eye on some of the other results.
0′ After months of hype, tantalizing soundbytes, and interesting subplots, the big matchup that we were all waiting for when the Round of 16 Draw was revealed is finally here! Almost everyone expects a classic here tonight, and I’m sure the teams will not disappoint. That being said, I bet it ends up 0-0.
0′ Just kidding. It’s Inter Milan and Manchester United.
0′ Welcome everyone to Soccerlens’ live coverage of the huge, titanic, ginormous, colossal clash between Porto and Atletico Madrid! This is truly the one that we’ve all been waiting for!
Manchester United will rue their missed chances and Inter will be relieved that they didn’t concede. In any event, this result isn’t a shocking one, and both squads can take heart going into the return match at Old Trafford. Inter acquitted themselves much better in the second half, and they had chances to win this match. Their defense was much better in the second half, and I’d bet that Rivas won’t get much playing time from here on out. Ibrahimovic didn’t seem to threaten too much, as United did a great job marking him whenever he had the ball, while Stankovic didn’t play well. United managed to get past this fixture with two banged up defenders and no Vidic, so they’ll feel good about their chances going Old Trafford.
Man of the Match:
Inter would have lost this match by one or two goals if not for Julio Cesar. There were other worthy candidates. Ronaldo played well and was a constant threat to score. Evans and O’Shea, despite shrugging injury knocks, did a great job, as did Ferdinand. For Inter, Cambiasso did a lot of good work in the midfield, and Cordoba really stabilized things for the defense once he came on for Rivas.