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United’s Second String Stroll to Champions League Final with 4-1 Win Over Schalke

By Can We Play You Every Week? @canweplayblog
United’s Second String Stroll to Champions League Final with 4-1 Win over Schalke
A considerably weakened Manchester United side romped home to a 4-1 victory over German side Schalke 04 in their Champions League Semi-Final Second-Leg encounter at Old Trafford last night, setting up a clash with Spanish giants Barcelona in the Final at Wembley later this month.
In a match in which the outcome had virtually already been established through United’s 2-0 First-Leg victory in Germany last week, Sir Alex Ferguson made nine changes to the side that won at the Veltkins Arena. Although the United boss admitted to being slightly anxious about taking such a risk in what was still a Champions League Semi-Final encounter, his nerves were to be proved unfounded as his team easily overcame what must be the weakest Semi-Final opponents in the history of the competition.

United’s Second String Stroll to Champions League Final with 4-1 Win over Schalke

Antonio Valencia celebrating his
goal against Schalke last night.

United scored with their first real effort on goal after 26 minutes through Antonio Valencia, who latched on to an alluring ball from Darron Gibson before finishing calmly past the onrushing Schalke ‘keeper Manuel Neuer. The Red Devils doubled their lead just five minutes later when Gibson turned from provider to scorer. The Republic of Ireland international fired a shot at Neuer from just inside the area, with the German number one demonstrating after last week’s heroics that he is human after all, fumbling the shot and allowing the ball to cross the line at his near post.
Four minutes later it was Schalke who responded with arguably the goal of the game from Spanish midfielder Jose Manuel Jurado. Picking up the ball from a ricochet off a United defender, he rifled home a shot past United ‘keeper Edwin van der Sar in the top corner of the net, sending the visiting Schalke fans into raptures. However, the muted celebration from the Spaniard said it all; the goal was all too little, too late from the German side who despite having the majority of the possession at Old Trafford, failed to truly test the United goal.

United’s Second String Stroll to Champions League Final with 4-1 Win over Schalke

United have the prospect of
facing the seemingly
unstoppable Lionel Messi
in the final at Wembley. 

The second half was a fairly uneventful affair; with both sides realising the outcome of the game had long before been decided. On 72 minutes, Manchester United restored their two-goal lead on the night thanks to another mistake by Neuer. United’s impressive Brazilian midfielder Anderson was rewarded for his persistence after his initial shot following a ball from Nani was blocked by Schalke defender Atsuto Uchida, before turning and striking a left-footed shot through the hands of Neuer and into the Schalke net. Four minutes later the rout was complete, with Anderson again on the score sheet. Dimitar Berbatov was set free on the right-hand side before powering into the area and sliding the ball unselfishly to Anderson who passed the ball home from just inside the six-yard box.
Schalke did have a goal ruled out for off-side in the closing stages – a correct decision it has to be said – but the German side lacked the quality to ever really cause a threat to United and over the two-legs, the Red Devils’ 6-1  aggregate victory was justly deserved.
Manchester United will now face an undoubtedly tougher challenge in the shape of Barcelona in the Champions League Final at Wembley on May 28; in what will be a rematch of the 2009 Final in which Pep Guardiola’s side eased to a 2-0 win. The match will mark 43 years since United won their first European Cup at the old Wembley stadium and Sir Alex Ferguson’s side may just need that sense of destiny in order to overcome a Barcelona team described as one of the best in the history of the game. 

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