Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal – Live Blog – UEFA Champions League – 29 April 2009

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Manchester United (O’Shea 17′) 1-0 Arsenal – Manchester United lead 1-0 on aggregate
Stadium: Old Trafford, England
Competition: UEFA Champions League, Semifinals, Leg 1
Date: 29 April 2009
Kickoff: 18:45 GMT, 14:45 EST

Manchester United defeated Arsenal in a hard-fought battle in the first leg of their Semifinal clash of the UEFA Champions League! Soccerlens brought you the action live! Click below for the live-blog and feel free to leave comments!

Match Preview:

For a rivalry as fierce and as personal as the one between Arsenal and Manchester United, it’s strange that they have never played each other in Europe. That will change as two of the most dominant teams of the Premier League Era will clash for a berth in the Champions League Finals.

Arsenal have been in excellent form ever since they got skipper Cesc Fabregas back from injury. They weathered a rough patch, during which time they failed to score a Premiership goal in four consecutive matches. However, now they seem to be clicking on all cylinders offensively, and nowhere was that more apparent than their thrilling 4-4 draw with Liverpool.

Unfortunately for Arsenal, their main weapon in that match, new signing Andrei Arshavin, is cup-tied and ineligible for this match. Even worse for the Gunners is that Robin Van Persie will miss out (although Emmanuel Adebayor should be available). And of course, there’s the defense. Without ex-skipper William Gallas and mainstay Gael Clichy, Arsenal’s defense has been struggling. Mikael Silvestre has been a poor substitute for Gallas and Bacary Sagna has been inconsistent since returning from his own injury.

They blew the F.A. Cup Semifinal against Chelsea, and they presented several goals to Liverpool on a silver platter that cost their side the three points. Simply put, their defense is a tremendous liability right now, despite the fact that they kept a clean sheet over the weekend. Then again, it was against Middlesbrough.

Their defense is going to have to rise up to the occasion, especially against a Manchester United team that scored 5 goals in the span of 22 minutes against Tottenham over the weekend. Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez, and Dimitar Berbatov showed their awesome potential together and overwhelmed a Tottenham team that had been in great form defensively.

Still, the fact that they needed such a comeback only emphasized their continuing defensive woes. Patrice Evra has been in terrible form ever since Aaron Lennon destroyed him during the Carling Cup Final, and Lennon had another great effort against the French international on Saturday. If Evra has problems against the younger and faster Theo Walcott, then Manchester United might need to make yet another epic comeback.

Who will win between these two rivals? Will the young Gunners take their first step towards another Champions League Final? Or will Manchester United edge closer towards defending their title? Tune in and find out!

Watch the 2009 Champions League Final Live – in Rome


Manchester United: Van der Sar, O’Shea, Ferdinand (c), Vidic, Evra, Fletcher, Carrick, Anderson, Ronaldo, Tevez, Rooney.
Subs: Foster, Berbatov, Giggs, Park, Scholes, Rafael, Evans.

Three changes from the side that defeated Tottenham over the weekend. Tevez will start in place of Berbatov, who was quite good against his former club on Saturday. Nani will miss out completely as Anderson will come into the lineup in his place. O’Shea will start in place of Rafael, who will be available as a substitute. No start for the recently named PFA Player of the Year, Ryan Giggs, who is, coincidentally, stuck on 799 career appearances for United.

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Silvestre, Gibbs, Song, Diaby, Walcott, Fabregas (c), Nasri, Adebayor.
Subs: Fabianski, Eduardo, Denilson, Ramsey, Djourou, Bendtner, Eboue.

Four changes from the side that defeated Middlesbrough over the weekend. Eboue will return to the bench in favor of Sagna, who didn’t play over the weekend. Denilson and the ineligible Arshavin will be replaced by Diaby and Song. Finally, Bendtner will find himself back in his least favorite position: on the bench in favor of Adebayor.


90′ + 4 Rooney tries to find Giggs with a long cross from the right wing, but it’s over his head. There’s the whistle, and we’re done! Manchester United will carry a 1-0 advantage to Emirates Stadium when they clash next week to determine who will move on to the Finals! Thanks to everyone that followed along! See you next time!

90′ + 3 Sagna with a cross from the right flank, but Vidic kicks it away. Berbatov (!) is back and he knocks it away from Sagna to concede the throw.

90′ + 2 Fabregas gives it away and Ronaldo tries a long-range effort, but it’s way off target.

90′ + 1 United take it quickly, but Giggs’ long cross from the left is headed away by Gibbs for a throw.

90′ Rooney makes the run towards the box, but his pass for Berbatov is knocked away from danger. Four minutes will be added on. Meanwhile, Sagna is called for the foul on Rooney as he was all over him like a cheap suit.

89′ Good sign for Ferdinand, as he tried to go back onto the field since he didn’t know that he had been subbed off. Must have been precautionary more than anything. Rooney tries to get around Gibbs, and Almunia comes out to collect the ball. Rooney doesn’t let up, and he has to be careful not to get booked.

87′ Ferdinand is down on the pitch after he got wiped out in front of the net. He’s holding his rib cage and he’s going to come off, which is not a good development for United. Evans will come in for him.

86′ Fabregas sends it in from about 35 yards out and Van der Sar is late getting to it. Bendtner gets to it first and he heads it wide, even though he had the entire net to work with. You got to put those away if you want to play…

85′ Arsenal win a free kick as Ferdinand slides in on Eduardo. Ferdinand has trouble getting up and he’s limping slightly.

84′ Rooney steals it and he makes a run into the box. He centers it to Berbatov, but the ball lacks pace and Sagna knocks it away.

83′ Carrick chips it to Giggs, and he gets behind Sagna, but he can’t reach the ball and Almunia collects it.

82′ Eduardo is looking to come on for Arsenal and it will be Adebayor that comes off for him.

80′ Promising attack from Arsenal as Nasri gets in deep down the left and he sends it into the box for Bendtner. He then passes it right to Fletcher, and you can almost hear the Arsenal fans groaning in disapproval. And he wonders why he doesn’t play every minute of every game…

79′ Great pass through to Giggs and he’s one-on-one with Almunia. He dribbles around the keeper and puts it into the back of the net, but he’s flagged offside. On the replay, it looked close and I thought he was on, but Tommy Smyth seems to think he was off. There you go.

78′ Sagna sends in a cross from the right edge of the box and Adebayor struggles with Vidic. It’s out and Adebayor wants a corner, but no dice.

76′ Great effort from Fletcher to keep it alive. Berbatov shows off his skills as employs some fancy footwork to send it to the left for Giggs. He threads a cross towards the far post, but Silvestre heads it over his own crossbar for a corner. That was a dangerous play by Silvestre, as he nearly collided with his own keeper. Giggs low delivery on the corner is deflected back to him. He whips a long cross to an unmarked Ferdinand at the far post, but he can’t handle it.

74′ Rooney sends a dangerous cross from deep down the right flank and Ronaldo and Toure both go for it in front of goal. Toure is able to win that battle, and it falls to Bendtner. He has trouble clearing it away, and it looks like he may have handled it, but no call. He eventually gets it away from danger.

72′ Ronaldo with a run down the left and he nearly slips. He sends it to the right for Rooney, and he makes a nice move to cut past Silvestre and get into the box. He cross is deflected out to Carrick and he tries a long-range shot that is just wide of the post.

71′ Walcott will come off for Bendtner. Interesting…

70′ Fabregas gets it inside the box and he tries to work on Evra on the left edge. He fires a cross towards the far post, but no one is close enough to do anything with it.

69′ Ronaldo tries a rocket of a shot from 35 yards out and he rattles the bar! Wow! That one would have given his goal against Porto a run for its money!

66′ Rooney with a nice ball through to Evra down the left, but Evra slips again, and he can’t handle it. Meanwhile, Anderson comes off and it’s history time as Giggs will make his 800th appearance. Good hand for Anderson, who’s been magnificent, and an even bigger hand for Giggs. Tevez then comes off for Berbatov.

65′ Ronaldo falls down under the Gibbs challenge, but no foul. Can’t believe that he didn’t get that call. Gibbs didn’t get any of the ball on that tackle. Arsenal go on the counterattack, and Fabregas sends it into the box for Adebayor. He tries to cross it to Walcott at the far post, but Vidic deflects it up into the air and Evra heads it away.

63′ Adebayor catches the United defense out of position and he tries a long-range shot, but it’s over the cross-bar.

62′ Ronaldo with a strong header to Fletcher inside the box. He sends it back to Ronaldo, and his shot is blocked. Carrick gets it but loses it to Nasri and he leads the counterattack. Diaby and Adebayor try to set up a one-two, but the return pass to Adebayor is poor and Van der Sar collects it.

61′ Ronaldo and Rooney play a one-two inside the box. Rooney tries to tee it up for Anderson, but his shot from the edge of the box is well off the mark.

58′ Poor play by Fletcher as he gives it away on the edge his own box and Adebayor nearly plays it through to Nasri. Ferdinand makes a great play to knock it out for an Arsenal throw.

57′ United threaten along the Arsenal box as Evra hits Sagna with a hard tackle to keep possession. Evra ends up giving it away, though, and he’s had a very poor afternoon in that department.

55′ Toure with a long cross from the right into the box for Adebayor. He has trouble collecting it, and it looks like he may have handled it. No call, though, and Fletcher is back to knock it away.

54′ Anderson’s corner is poor, though, as his service towards the far post, once again, goes out for a goal-kick.

53′ Anderson makes a great run towards the edge of the box and he lays it off to Ronaldo. He takes a shot, but it’s deflected out for a corner.

52′ Great run by Tevez into the box and he sends it to the left for Rooney. He tries to center it to Ronaldo, but he can’t get there. Arsenal try to counterattack, but Adebayor is flagged offside.

51′ Song almost commits the howler as he loses it to Carrick in his own half. He plays it through to Tevez down the left, but he’s flagged offside. Tevez can’t believe it, and Song really dodged a bullet there.

50′ Carrick slides it into the box for Anderson, but Toure knocks it away. Ronaldo then takes a spill in the box, but the ref is not impressed.

49′ Evra trips as he tries to attack down the left. Rooney plays it into the middle for Fletcher, but he can’t handle it. He tries to win it back, but he’s called for the foul on Toure.

47′ Lazy header from Evra that goes right to Walcott. He’s so surprised, however, that he puts it out for a United throw.

46′ United kick off and we’re underway! No changes for either side. United will be attacking the Stretford End, as they like to do in the second half. Wenger makes his way to the seats, and I don’t think he was very happy at halftime.

What a difference a day makes! It was a spirited first half and United deservedly find themselves in front. They were unlucky not to have put two or three past Almunia, and time will tell as to whether or not they rue those missed chances. As for Arsenal, they can take heart in the fact that, as badly as they played, they’re only down by 1. They also seemed to settle down towards the end of the first half and kept control of the ball much better than at the beginning of the match. Arsenal will need to keep attacking, especially if they want to get that precious away goal, and we can bet that United will continue to press for that second goal. Should be a great second-half!

45′ + 1 One minute will be added on. Walcott finally does get behind the defense and he chips a pass to Adebayor, who is in front of goal. Ferdinand gets his head on it, though, and they avert danger. Walcott probably should have taken that one himself. There’s the whistle and we’re at halftime!

45′ Anderson plays it through to Carrick in the box, and only Silvestre’s timely intervention keeps Carrick from being through on goal. Gibbs then sends a sloppy back-pass to Almunia that Tevez nearly poaches. Almunia is able to kick it away, though. He’s been the Man of the Match, so far.

44′ Scrum along the edge of the Man Utd. box and Sagna emerges with it. He tries to cross it into the box, but Fletcher knocks it out for a throw.

43′ Fletcher finds Anderson and he looks to be through on goal, but he’s flagged offside. He was not, according to the video replay, and that would have caused Almunia some problems.

42′ Rooney cuts inside from the left and he shoots from the edge of the box. It’s off target, though, and doesn’t trouble Almunia at all.

40′ Arsenal pass it around the pitch, but a poor touch from Diaby gives it away to United. Fletcher plays it through to Ronaldo, but he slips before he can get away from Silvestre.

38′ Carrick directs traffic and tries to get Rooney to cut inside. Rooney goes outside, though, and Carrick’s pass goes out for a goal-kick. Should have listened to him, Rooney.

36′ Gibbs gets past O’Shea after the Man Utd. man slips. His cross is knocked away from danger, though. Meanwhile, Adebayor tries to get on the end of a long-pass into the box, and he’s called for a foul. He elbowed Ferdinand in the head as he tried to go up for it. No booking for him, but he’ll get a talking to.

35′ Good pressure from Arsenal as they try to build up their attack. Fabregas loses it on the edge of the box and Anderson goes off to the races. Nasri does well to track back and take it away, and Anderson is called for a foul.

34′ Gibbs sends in a good cross from the left wing and Song is in front of goal but can’t get his header on target.

33′ Tevez gets booked, and that seems harsh. It was a 50-50 ball and they both had a right to go for it, didn’t they?

32′ Anderson and Tevez play the one-two on the edge of the box, and Anderson plays it through to him. Tevez and Almunia both go for it, but they end up colliding and Almunia looks to have taken it on the chin, literally. He’s up before Tevez, though, and looks like he’s okay.

29′ Dangerous cross from Tevez from deep down the right and Ronaldo gets a great header on target at the far post that forces another great save from Almunia. Arsenal would be down by 3, right now, if it weren’t for him.

28′ O’Shea gets in behind Nasri down the right and he sends a dangerous cross into the box that Toure is able to knock away. Arsenal go on the attack and Adebayor nearly gets it inside the box. Vidic does well to deny him, though, and clears it from danger.

27′ Song is fouled near the center-line by Fletcher. Walcott cuts inside from the right passes it to Adebayor. He sends it back to Fabregas and the skipper sends in a hard shot from long-range that Van der Sar saves.

26′ Good pressure from Gibbs as he puts pressure on Vidic and nearly causes him to muff his back-pass. Van der Sar is able to kick it away, though.

25′ Rooney sends in an optimistic shot from long-range that’s well off target. Fletcher loses it in his half and Diaby sends a great pass across the edge of the box to Fabregas, who is unmarked. Rooney comes up from behind and causes him to shank it.

24′ Anderson’s cross goes towards the far post, but Carrick can’t get to it in time. Goal-kick to Almunia.

23′ Poor defense from Diaby as he dilly-dallies along the edge of his box and he loses it. Arsenal’s been doing that a lot lately, haven’t they? O’Shea then wins a corner off Gibbs.

22′ Tevez finds Ronaldo all alone down the right. He whips a cross towards the far post for Anderson, but it just eludes him.

20′ Well, O’Shea doesn’t score them very often, but when he does, they’re usually big ones. Van der Sar’s poor clearance goes right to Silvestre near the center line. Adebayor then draws the foul from Vidic and Arsenal will have a free kick from about 40 yards away. Fabregas sends in the free kick, towards the far post, but Van der Sar is out to collect it.

19′ What’s Arsenal’s response going to be? Adebayor gets it inside the box, but he’s flagged offside.

17′GOAL! Great chance for United as Tevez falls down on the edge of the box, but the ball trickles to O’Shea. He sends a great cross to Tevez in front of goal, but his point-blank shot is saved by Almunia! What a save by the Arsenal keeper! He concedes the corner and on the corner, Carrick does well to keep it alive and he sends it out to O’Shea, who is unmarked inside the box. O’Shea then takes his shot and he beats Almunia!

16′ Ronaldo nearly gives it away on the edge of his own box, but Ferdinand does well to kick it away.

15′ Carrick tries to play it through and his pass is just out of Ronaldo’s reach. Carrick’s distribution is very good, so far. He’s just a tad long on some of his passes.

14′ Almost danger as Diaby holds it in his own half and nearly has his pocket picked by Fletcher. In the end, he does well to get it away from trouble.

12′ Walcott gets his first reach touch as he sends in a cross from deep down the right wing. Vidic heads it away for a throw, and Evra is already having trouble with Walcott.

11′ Tevez makes a great run in from the right wing and he finds Ronaldo on the edge of the box. His shot is deflected and Almunia ends up making the save comfortably.

9′ Fletcher nearly catches Silvestre and Toure napping as he gets in behind them, but Carrick’s pass is long and Almunia snatches it away.

8′ Ronaldo cuts inside from the right wing, but Song hits him with a great tackle to take it away.

7′ Great start from United as Arsenal have yet to string more than a few passes together. O’Shea tries to spring Ronaldo down the right wing, but his ball is long and is out for a goal-kick.

5′ Long pass from Carrick to Rooney and Sagna looks like he’s backing off. Rooney tries to pass it to Ronaldo, but Song knocks it away.

3′ Anderson and Nasri have some extracurricular activities that causes Larsen to call them both over for a talking to.

2′ Great pass from Fletcher across the face of goal to Rooney. He heads it on target after Sagna slips and it beats Almunia but just flashes wide of the post. United attack again as Ronaldo gets it deep down the right and he sends a hard cross across goal that just eludes Tevez.

1′ Arsenal kick off and we’re underway! Claus Bo Larsen is our referee. Early long ball from Gibbs across the field to Walcott. It’s long and Evra heads it back to Van der Sar. Well, I guess we know what Wenger’s strategy is.

0′ Only one of these teams can be Chammmmmm-pionnnnnnns!

0′ Cristiano Ronaldo is making his 50th appearance in the Champions League. He’s been fouled more times than any other player left in the competition (31 times). No doubt, he thinks it should be higher than that.

0′ Another matchup that could be really interesting will be the one between Carrick and Fabregas in the center of midfield. Fabregas looked very ordinary in the Chelsea match with Essien marking him, and he disappeared for long stretches of the Liverpool match with Mascherano watching him. I think he should have an easier time with Carrick, but you never know.

0′ I would have thought that Park would start on the left side to help Evra with Walcott. Instead, it looks like Ferguson will have two ball-hawks in Tevez and Anderson playing on the left side, which should give Evra plenty of cover. At least, in theory…

0′ Another thing to watch for: yellow cards. Evra and Rooney will be suspended for the second leg if they pick up a booking today. Arsenal have four players on a card: Robin van Persie (who’s out of today’s clash), Alexandre Song, Abou Diaby and Samir Nasri.

0 Some stats to ponder, courtesy of the BBC. These teams have met 205 times in all competitions. United have won 82 and Arsenal have won 78. Arsene Wenger has an 14-13 edge in 37 career meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson. However, United have never lost a Semifinal to Arsenal, defeating the Gunners in three previous F.A. Cup Semis (including the famous one in 1999 when Giggs scored his memorable goal in extra time), and one League Cup Semi. Notable players to have played for both clubs include Brian Kidd, Frank Stapleton, Viv Anderson, Andrew (Don’t Call Me Andy) Cole, and Mikael Silvestre. And, of course, David Beckham trained with Arsenal last season in an effort to keep himself on Fabio Capello’s radar. Let’s just say that it didn’t work very well.

0′ Both teams also love to attack, so we should be in for a treat. Both teams have well-documented deficiencies on defense, so it could definitely turn into a shootout. Then again, I said that about yesterday’s match, and then Chelsea went out and put the sleeperhold on Barcelona (and me, for that matter).

0′ Even if you aren’t a fan of one of these teams, this should be a great match. These two always seem to bring out the best in one another, and you won’t find too many managers that are as good as Ferguson and Wenger.

0′ Hello everyone, and welcome to Soccerlens’ live coverage of the UEFA Champions League Semifinal clash between Manchester United and Arsenal! I’m Victor and I’ll be your liveblogger. I’m watching this match on ESPN. However, this match is available, on-line, at ESPN360. For information on how to access that fine service, feel free to consult this article. Click here for other, free, options.

Match Review:

Manchester United did what they wanted to and will go into the second leg with a one-goal advantage. They kept a clean sheet and limited Arsenal to a couple of half-chances. It was a good win for Manchester United and one that firmly puts them in the driver’s seat for the return leg next week. However, it was also a match full of missed chances. They had a number of great opportunities to score, and Manuel Almunia did well to limit them to the one score. We won’t know whether those missed chances come back to haunt United until next week. What we do know is that they could have won 2-0 or 3-0, and that is, surely, an opportunity lost.

As for Arsenal, this isn’t the worst situation for them. After all, they can say that, as poorly as they played, they only lost by one. Their defense didn’t get breached the way it did against Liverpool or Chelsea, and Silvestre actually acquitted himself fairly well against his old team. They will need to play better on offense, and having Van Persie back should open things up considerably. Arsene Wenger might wonder about why Fabregas disappeared or how Walcott and Adebayor were held in check. Still, they’ll pretty much have to beat United by two goals to go through, and that could be a tall task, especially if their offense continues to sputter.

Man of the Match:

Manuel Almunia

He came up huge for his team and made several great saves in what was, without question, the best display by an Arsenal goalkeeper in Europe since (gasp!) Jens Lehmann. He single-handedly kept his team close and the scoreline manageable. Every Arsenal fan ought to thank their lucky stars that he played as well as he did, since Manchester United looked like they were going to run away with this match at the beginning of the first half. John O’Shea had a very good game for Manchester United, scoring the goal and doing a great job on both ends of the pitch. Wayne Rooney did a respectable job helping Evra keep Walcott in check, and Tevez was his usual, indefatigable self. Carrick and Anderson also played well for United, helping keep Fabregas in check while generating numerous scoring opportunities for themselves and their teammates.

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