Villarreal 0-0 Manchester United – UEFA Champions League – 25 November 2008 – Live Blog

Villarreal 0-0 Manchester United
Competition: UEFA Champions League, Group E
Date: 25 November 2008
Stadium: Estadio El Madrigal, Spain
Kickoff: 19:45 GMT, 14:45 ET

Villarreal and Manchester United battled to their fourth consecutive scoreless draw, thereby ensuring that both teams will advance into the knockout round. Soccerlens brought you the action (or lack thereof) live! Click below for the live-blog, and feel free to leave comments below!

Match Preview:

When these teams met at Old Trafford two months ago, both sides had chances to win, but ultimately battled to a scoreless stalemate. Now, the scene shifts to Madrigal Stadium, where Manchester United were held, 0-0, the last time they visited, in a match where Wayne Rooney was sent off. Redemption will certainly be on Manchester United’s mind, but advancement into the knockout round will be their first priority.

United will need all the help that they can get, what with Dimitar Berbatov sidelined for two weeks and Cristiano Ronaldo looking like he might miss out after leaving last weekend’s Aston Villa match with an injury. United’s away form has been shaky this year, and they were a couple of minutes away from suffering their first defeat in European play since 2006-2007 against Celtic a couple of weeks ago. A draw would guarantee them a place in the next round, but given United’s struggles away from Old Trafford, a win would be a huge boost to their confidence.

As for Villarreal, they could use a win after getting thumped by Valladolid over the weekend. Former United man Giuseppe Rossi continues to play well for Villarreal, fueling speculation that United, which has a buy-back clause in his contract, could bring him back to Old Trafford after the season. Whether it’s mindgames from Sir Alex, or a sincere belief that Rossi could slot in perfectly as the #3 striker, a role that Carlos Tevez seems to hate, it’s definitely not a welcome advance on Villarreal’s part. We’ll see what role, if any, it plays in this match.

Who will prevail in this battle between group leaders? Tune in and find out!


Villarreal: Diego Lopez, Venta, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Fuentes, Capdevilla, Cazorla, Senna (c), Eguren, Pires, Rossi, Ibagaza
Subs: Viera, Edmilson, Franco, Cygan, Fernandez, Angel Lopez, Bruno.

Conventional 4-4-2 for Villarreal, who will make a few changes from the side that lost over the weekend. Venta comes in for Angel Lopez at right back, Fuentez will come in for Cygan at center back, and Ibagaza will start up front in place of Franco. In addition to Rossi, United are intimately familiar with former Arsenal man, Pires.

Manchester United: Kuszczak, O’Shea, Ferdinand (c), Evans, Evra, Ronaldo, Fletcher, Carrick, Nani, Anderson, Rooney.
Subs: Foster, Giggs, Park, Vidic, Rafael, Gibson, Tevez.

After Ferguson seemed to indicate that he would rest Ronaldo, the man who thinks he should be first, second, and third on the World Player of the Year ballot will start. Fletcher, Anderson, and Nani will come in for Giggs, Park, and Tevez. Rooney will start by himself up front, a decision that may signal Ferguson’s intentions here. Kuszczak will deputize for Van der Sar, who didn’t even make the trip to Spain, Evans will come in for Vidic, and O’Shea will keep his place at right-back.


Thanks to everyone who followed along. I’ll be back on Sunday for the big Manchester derby! See you then!

90′ + 3 Last chance for United as they’ll have a corner here as Fuentes knocks it away. Nope. There’s the whistle and we’re done. Both Villarreal and United will advance and Celtic will crash out on a Gary Caldwell own goal. You have to give the advantage to United to win the group, since United will get Aalborg at Old Trafford. But, that’s for another time.

90′ + 2 Tevez lifts a cross from the left wing towards the far post for Rooney, but Lopez cuts it out.

90′ + 1 Evans gets fouled by Franco near the center line and United will have a free kick.

90′ Venta gives it away to Tevez and he leads the charge for United. Three minutes will be added on.

89′ Good buildup by United that leads to Park whipping a cross from deep down the right flank. It’s too close to the keeper, and Lopez easily handles it. Aalborg have scored again, and it looks like Celtic might not even get to play in the UEFA Cup

87′ Tevez sends a cross from the left wing to the right for Ronaldo. He sends it into the box for Rooney, who gets surrounded by three yellow shirts. He loses the ball and tries to win it back, but is called for the foul. Back the other way and Ibagaza tries to test Kuszczak, but it’s easily saved by the Notorious P.I.G.

86′ Evra with some good work down the left flank and whips in a corner that is knocked away by Villarreal for a United throw. Tevez will come on for Carrick. Meanwhile, at the Emirates, Bendtner has scored for Arsenal. Looks like the Cesc Fabregas Era will get off to a good start.

85′ Park will come on for Nani. Ronaldo will stay on, and you can still see the cleat marks on his knee.

82′ Fernandez gets deep into the box, but Ferdinand is there to make the tackle and slots it to Kuszczak, who knocks it away. Meanwhile, Ronaldo gets hit with a really nasty leg whip by Capdevilla. It’s a straight red card for Capdevilla, and say what you will about Ronaldo’s theatrics, but that red card was entirely deserved. That was a dangerous looking tackle.

81′ Corner is cleared by Villarreal. Nani tries to keep it alive, but he loses it to about 3 or 4 yellow shirts.

80′ Gibson will come on for Fletcher.

79′ Rooney gets in deep down left flank. He tries to slide a cross, but it’s deflected off a Villarreal player and looks like it will be be going in. Capdevilla heads it over the crossbar to concede the corner, saving the goal.

78′ Villarreal will make a change as Rossi will come off for Franco.

76′ Aalborg has equalized. Interesting. Rossi with the touch pass to Ibagaza, but Ferdinand knocks it away.

75′ Ferdinand makes a miscue and Fernandez gets into the box. Ferdinand recovers, though, and makes a good tackle to take it away.

73′ Rooney tries to chip a cross to Anderson, but it’s too close to the keeper and Lopez claims it.

72′ Tevez is warming up and looks like he’ll be coming on. Who knows? This could be an audition for him. I doubt Villarreal will give him the money he’s looking for, but there have to be Real Madrid or Barcelona scouts in attendance tonight.

70′ Anderson nearly springs Ronaldo, but it’s just out of his reach and Villarreal knock it away for a United throw.

69′ Ronaldo gives it away and Villarreal make the charge. Rossi goes down from the challenge from O’Shea, but no call from the refs. Rossi’s been going down a little easy today. I guess he’s been playing in Spain too long.

66′ Pires is off for Villarreal and Fernandez will come on. Meanwhile, long ball from Carrick to Rooney as he slips behind the defense. He turns and fires on goal, but Lopez makes the reflex save. In Rooney’s defense, he was at a really bad angle and Lopez did a great job getting into a good position to make the save.

64′ Pires with a smart play as he gets in deep down the right wing and knocks it off a United player. Corner is knocked away by United and it falls to Cazorla, who sends a wicked cross from the right wing to the far post, and it just misses Capdevilla’s boot.

63′ Anderson gets a better chance here as Rooney and Ronaldo play a nice give-and-go. Ronaldo sends it back to Anderson and his shot forces a save from Lopez.

62′ Ronaldo plays Rooney through and he tries to chip it into the net, but it’s wide. Nani tries to pounce on the rebound, but he can’t get to it before it goes out for a goal kick.

61′ Venta tries a shot from the right wing, but Kuszczak isn’t bothered by it at all. Anderson then tries a long range shot that doesn’t bother Lopez, either. It’s looking like a 0-0 match.

59′ Pires catches United’s defense napping and he sends a nice cross into the box for Rossi that he just misses with his head (he is a short guy, after all). Rossi comes back with a really sweet move in the box (he was moving one way, then turned on a dime and cut towards the goal), but Evans knocks it out off Rossi for the goal kick.

58′ Fletcher takes a shot from the edge of the box that travels just wide of the far post. Fuentes gets booked. Not sure for what. Maybe dissent? Meanwhile, Celtic have scored.

57′ Rossi slips in a nice looking ball towards Ibagaza, but Kuszczak is out to collect the ball.

56′ Cazorla draws a foul on Evra and Villarreal will have a free kick from 35 yards out or so. They take it quick and Evans concedes the corner. United easily clear the corner away. Venta tries to send it back towards goal, but it’s out for a goal kick.

53′ Capdevilla leans into Ronaldo and Ronaldo pulls the chair out from under him. Ronaldo is called for the foul, and he’s upset about the call. Ronaldo then gets booked for dissent.

51′ Ronaldo makes the run into the box and he takes a shot from the edge of the box. Lopez makes a great save and Rooney tries to get the rebound. He goes down in the box and he wants a penalty. No go and the Villarreal players, no doubt remembering the match a couple years ago, want a card on Rooney. I think they were trying to wind Rooney up more than anything else.

49′ Corner goes off Evra, but the ref rules it was off Rossi instead. Goal kick for United. Really good cross from Pires from deep down the left flank into the box for Rossi, but Evra is there to knock it away. Tommy Smyth is surprised that Anderson is still in there, and I have to agree. He’s been invisible tonight.

48′ Evra slides for the ball, but it goes behind him. Cazorla is able to take advantage and Villarreal get a corner out of it.

47′ Venta is the new skipper for Villarreal.

46′ Villarreal kick off and the second half is underway. As expected, Senna is off and Bruno (not to be confused with the Sascha Baron Cohen character) will come on. Nani picks off the errant pass and tries to make something happen. He wins a corner off Eguren. Nothing doing on the corner as Villarreal easily clear it away.

46′ Aalborg and Celtic are also scoreless at halftime. Arsenal and Dynamo Kyiv are also at 0-0.

Not the best match so far as neither side has found the back of the net. United have had the better chances, but once again, their lack of finishing has hurt them. Villarreal are defending well, but will lose a big weapon should Senna sit down during halftime. We’ll see what happens.

45′ + 1 One minute will be added on. Rooney wins a free kick, but the minute of extra time is closer to 20 seconds as there’s the whistle, and we’re at halftime!

44′ The corner falls to Evans, but he can’t get his shot off. Meanwhile, Senna looks like he’s hurt and he motions to the bench.

43′ This will be interesting. He’s about 30 yards out or so. Ronaldo’s shot makes Lopez drop down and make a diving save that goes out of bounds for a United corner.

42′ Nothing doing on the corner as O’Shea is called offside. Ronaldo goes down again, this time its Eguren who is booked for the foul.

41′ United come close as Rooney gets it on the edge of the box and he sets Ronaldo up for a nice shot that Lopez gets a fingertip on and pushes into the crossbar. It’s knocked out for a corner.

39′ Nani gets wiped out by Fuentes deep down the left flank, but no foul.

38′ O’Shea and Anderson have some miscommunication as O’Shea’s throughball misses him completely.

36′ Evra is booked for a foul on Ibagaza.

35′ Nani makes a nice move to get past his marker. He sends it into the box for Ronaldo, who lays it off to Fletcher, who is on the edge of the box. Fletcher sends the shot towards goal, but Lopez easily saves it.

34′ Poor pass from Rooney to Ronaldo, and Villarreal try to knock it away. O’Shea gets it, but he’s called for a handball.

32′ ESPN’s clock is off, so I’m approximating here. Corner catches Kuszczak in no-man’s land and he falls down. Luckily for United, they are able to clear it away before Villarreal can take advantage.

31′ Rossi is greeted rudely by his old teammates as he wins a free kick against Nani deep down the left flank. Ibagaza whips it in, but United head it away. It falls to Venta, who takes a long-range shot that’s deflected out for a corner.

30′ Senna tests Kuszczak from long range, but he makes the save. Ferdinand is called for a foul on Senna near the center line.

29′ Ronaldo’s ball gets over the wall, but it’s directly into the waiting arms of Lopez.

28′ Venta is booked for a rough challenge on Ronaldo, and Man Utd. will have a good free kick chance from about 30 yards out.

27′ Carrick gives it away in his own territory, but Evra does a good job and wins it back. Pires gets the ball and sends it back to Rossi, who tries to chip it back to Pires. Pires struggles with Ferdinand and tries to make it look like Ferdinand is grabbing his arm, but the refs don’t call it. It’s out for a goal kick.

26′ Neither side has really established much of a rhythm. Let’s hope that there isn’t a gentleman’s agreement in place here.

24′ Anderson sends it to Nani, and Nani gives it back to him on the edge of the box. Anderson hesitates, and he can’t get his shot off. Nani is then called for a foul.

21′ Ronaldo gets some space and he charges towards goal. He lays it off to his right for Rooney, but it’s a little bit long and Rooney has to motor for it. He tries to cross it, but he slips and the ball goes out for a goal kick.

20′ Rooney gets taken down on the edge of the box, but no foul from the ref. It looks like he was clearly clipped by Fuentes.

18′ Rooney tries to play it through to Nani, but good defense from Venta as he makes the clean tackle and takes it away.

17′ Pires tees it up for Cazorla, and he forces a great save from Kuszczak. Pires gets the rebound, but he can’t control it and United clear it from danger.

16′ Two more booming kicks fro Kuszczak. He’s throwing around the big boot more often than Hulk Hogan.

15′ Pires tries to get in behind United’s defense, but Fletcher is there to defend him. Pires knocks it away for a United throw.

12′ Ronaldo and O’Shea nearly mess up their clearance attempt and it looks like Ronaldo’s clearance attempt may have caught O’Shea on the arm. Eventually, Villarreal knock it out for a goal kick.

11′ Cazorla makes a good tackle to stop the one-two from Nani and Evra. Villarreal go on the attack and Ibagaza earns a corner. Ibagaza whips in the corner, and Pires tries to flick it to a teammate, but Ronaldo heads it away.

10′ Rossi gets his first touch and his shot is blocked by Evans. He gets it back and tries another shot from the left wing, but Kuszczak easily saves it.

8′ Rooney finds the back of the net, but he’s ruled offside. It’s close, but it looks like it was the right call. I’d talk more about the buildup to the play, but ESPN was showing crowd shots for some reason. Great work, guys.

7′ Anderson makes a nice move into the box and forces Lopez to make a good save. The ball is knocked back towards Ronaldo, and he takes a shot from the edge of the box. Ronaldo’s shot is well off target and he gets into it with Ibagaza. The ref calls them both over to settle them down.

6′ Nani gets in deep down the left flank and tries to cross it towards goal. Lopez cuts it out.

5′ Rooney tries an optimistic shot from long range, but Lopez easily saves it. I bet he’ll be extremely relieved once he finally gets that 100th goal. He hasn’t played well in a long time.

4′ There have already been two backpasses to Kuszczak. I’ll give him one advantage over Van der Sar. He can sure boot it downfield.

3′ Shaky moment for Villarreal in their box, but Anderson is called offside before he can do any damage.

2′ Ronaldo fouls Senna near the center line.

1′ United kick it off and we’re underway! Roberto Rosetti is our referee.

0′ The Chammmmm-pions!

0′ Cazorla turned Real Madrid down in the offseason, saying that there were other things besides playing for Real Madrid. Unfortunately for Sir Alex, it looks like Cazorla will be lining up on the other side of the field, away from Ronaldo.

0′ And, of course, we’ll be keeping an eye on that Arsenal score. Should be interesting as Cesc Fabregas will make his debut as Arsenal skipper while deposed captain William Gallas will return to the lineup.

0′ By the way, as an American, I really wish Rossi had decided to play for us. Then again, you can’t blame him for wanting to play for Italy. I would too, if I had his talent. And, you know, if I were Italian (although my last name does end in a vowel…).

0′ There’s been a lot of talk about Rossi and the so-called “buy-back” option for United in his contract. I actually think that bringing Rossi back as their #3 striker and letting Tevez go would be the perfect solution to their problem. Why spend 30 million pounds for a guy who’s going to be a benchwarmer? Why not spend 6 million on a proven goal scorer like Rossi? It might not be the best move for Rossi, but it makes perfect sense for United.

0′ On the other hand, this is a Villarreal team that gave up 3 goals to Aalborg a couple of weeks ago. I guess we’ll see what happens once the whistle blows.

0′ Then again, it looks like United are going for the draw. It’s understandable, I guess, since a draw would ensure advancement for both teams. Case in point: look at how Tevez is on the bench today, even though Berbatov is out. Ferguson wanted to go with a 5 man midfield, and with Rooney’s tendency to wander back and help win balls, it’s hard to imagine United going on a goal scoring spree.

0′ Neither squad has scored a single goal against each other in their last three encounters. Let’s hope history does not repeat itself today.

0′ Welcome to Soccerlens’ live coverage of the Champions League clash between Manchester United and Villarreal. I’m Victor and I’ll be your liveblogger today.

Match Review:

Well, this match was about what we expected. Both sides played cautiously and were more than happy to take a draw. United had their chances, especially the shot from Ronaldo that nearly beat Lopez, but their goalscoring drought continues (180-plus minutes and counting). They’ll have some question marks heading into the match against City on Sunday, but this is a good result for them.

As for Villarreal, they could rue their decision to sit back and take the draw. United are first on goal difference and will get Aalborg at home while Villarreal have to travel to Glasgow, where Celtic seem to morph into Chelsea. We’ll see if this result haunts them when the draw comes out, but they didn’t have too many chances to score today. Still, for their beleaguered defense, a clean sheet is just what the doctor ordered.

Man of the Match:

Cristiano Ronaldo

Not much to choose from. Ronaldo had his chances, as did Rooney. The two of them didn’t always link up well, which could be troubling for United. Still, Ronaldo was the most dangerous player on the pitch and seemed to move well, despite suffering that ankle injury against Villa. As for Villarreal, Pires played very well during the time he was on the pitch, as did Cazorla. Still, the real man of the match should be me, for not falling asleep during this snoozefest.

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