Home » Champ League, Latest » Match Report: Manchester United 1 Valencia 1

On a night so cold even the officials wore tights, Manchester United were grateful to a tough boy from Brazil, Anderson, who eschewed gloves, snoods and long sleeves, to make sure Sir Alex Ferguson’s side enter the knock-out stages as Champions League Group C winners.

If Anderson took the limelight for his second-half finish, many of the plaudits should go to Wayne Rooney, comfortably man of the match for his passing, movement, technique and willingness to track back to assist midfield and, occasionally, defence.

The tie was also notable for the worrying sight of Rio Ferdinand being substituted in the second half, the centre-back heading straight to the tunnel.

Chris Smalling came on, and did well enough, but United will not want to be without Ferdinand for the forthcoming Premier League games against Arsenal and Chelsea. A little bit of history was made later on when Ryan Giggs arrived for his 850th appearance.

Even before Pablo Hernandez struck after 32 minutes, United had suffered some scares, beginning with Aritz Aduriz and Alejandro Dominguez slicing through the middle until Rafael intervened. Ricardo Costa then headed just wide.

The alarm bells ringing, United awoke. Soon they were driving through the centre, the excellent Rooney weighting a wonderful return pass into the path of Anderson, who placed his low shot too close to Vicente Guaita.

Even with Roberto Soldado and Juan Mata starting on the bench, Valencia’s threat was clear on the counter. Finishing top or second really meant little to them as they could not be drawn against their fellow La Liga sides, Barcelona and Real Madrid, on Dec 17. Yet they buzzed with purpose.

Dominguez almost beat Amos out with a near-post strike. Amos’ presence was a surprise, the 20 year-old making only his third appearance 24 hours after Ferguson claimed he would start his “first-choice” team.

For all the Spaniard’s incipient menace, United should have scored midway through the half from a series of high-speed raids. Moments after wasting a gift from Ever Banega, Dimitar Berbatov was offered another chance, this time engineered by Rooney and Anderson, who linked up effortlessly 30 yards out.

The Brazilian sent Berbatov through, the Bulgarian racing at Guaita. As Berbatov shaped to go left, Valencia’s keeper dived in and flicked the ball clear. It rebounded off Berbatov’s foot before careering away harmlessly for a goal kick.

Until Hernandez’s strike, more energy appeared to be exerted by the Stretford End, singing about Eric Cantona, and Valencia’s hyperactive coach, Unai Emery, who leapt about and gesticulated like John McCririck watching a horse he had backed come flying home.

Rooney was growing in influence, manoeuvring the ball around well. Occasionally drifting out left, the England international whipped in one cross that Park Ji-sung met first time, forcing Guaita into a good save.

As the game nudged past the half-hour mark, and the mercury dropped lower, Carrick’s uncertainty in midfield was exposed. Turning into traffic, Carrick lost the ball to Dominguez, who darted through the middle.

Drawing Vidic, the Argentine slipped possession right to Hernandez, whose first touch teed the ball up perfectly. Even with Amos running out to close the angle, Hernandez calmly drove it between the goalkeeper’s legs and in.

Having been caught out by Barcelona and Bayern Munich in recent years, Carrick is developing an alarming habit of being troubled on the major occasions.

Rooney sought to ride to the rescue of Carrick and United. He almost delivered the perfect riposte, turning 30 yards out and lifting a magnificent chip over the heads of Valencia’s defence, over Guaita, but unfortunately the bar intervened. Nani was quickest to the loose ball but he shot just wide.

If the half concluded in more frustration, a booking for Anderson following a challenge on Jordi Alba, hope still rose because of Rooney. Clearly sharpened by his spell in Oregon, Rooney showed an impressive burst of pace to whisk the ball away from Jeremy Mathieu, Valencia’s left-back.

Rooney’s unmistakable return to form continued to be seen after the break. Turning on the left, he clipped a ball in towards Berbatov, who angled a header just wide.

United then suffered another blow when Rio Ferdinand limped off, bringing the promising Chris Smalling on. Still Valencia threatened, Aduriz testing Amos. Still Rooney was England’s best avenue of hope, taking Park’s pass, swivelling and shooting just wide. United’s No 10 then thundered a shot that Guaita punched away.

United’s pressure was building. Just after the hour-mark, Rafael charged from the deep, slipping the ball wide to Park. When Guaita failed to deal properly with the South Korean’s shot, Anderson charged in to sweep the loose ball home.

The game had really opened up. Emery sent on his ace, Mata, and a new problem now faced United. Amos’s kicking was hardly inspiring confidence but United were soon storming forward in search of a second; some of their passing moves were terrific, particularly when conjuring the ball cross field.

Park was working hard, Anderson’s contribution involved so much more than his goal while Rooney’s movement, industry and touch continued to shine through. Such was Rooney’s threat that Valencia stooped to underhand tactics, Miguel bringing him down.

Related Posts

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.