Manchester United push Barcelona aside in tense semi-final

Other News Materials 30 April 2008 01:55 (UTC +04:00)
Manchester United push   Barcelona aside in tense semi-final

Manchester United reached their first Champions League final since 1999 on Tuesday, with a tense 1-0 defeat of slick but inoffensive Barcelona.

United won thanks to a 14th minute goal from English veteran Paul Scholes - and thanks to Barca's powder-puff attack, the dpa reported.

Frank Rijkaard's troubled team - who have not scored for four games - dominated possession but, the same as in the goalless first leg in Barcelona, lacked bite in attack.

Indeed, United created more clear chances with less possession than the visitors.

In the Moscow final Sir Alex Ferguson's team will face either Chelsea or Liverpool, who complete the other semi-final in London on Wednesday. That tie is finely poised at 1-1 after the first leg.

Ferguson had to make do and mend without Nemanja Vidic and Wayne Rooney, both of whom failed a late fitness test.

Barca made an ambitious start but the crucial goal came in United's first attack, after just 14 minutes.

Barca right-back Gianluca Zambrotta won the ball off Cristiano Ronaldo, only to clumsily gift the ball to Scholes. The fiery midfielder controlled quickly then delighted Old Trafford with an unstoppable high drive with the outside of his right foot.

Lionel Messi and Deco both came close to levelling for Barca in the first half, with United content to soak up the pressure and play on the break.

Nani should have made it 2-0 just before the break but instead closed his eyes and headed wide.

Barca gradually ran out of steam in the second half and United came forward intelligently for the killer blow, which Carlos Tevez and Nani almost managed to apply.

Rijkaard's team battled manfully towards the end but rarely looked like scoring, despite the valiant efforts of substitutes Thierry Henry and Bojan Krkic.