Larsson goal puts United into quarterfinals
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
|Goalscorers for Manchester United||Larsson (72')|
|Goalscorers for Lille OSC||None|
|Bookings (Manchester United)||Ronaldo, Richardson (Yellow (2))|
|Bookings (Lille OSC)||Makoun, Chalme, Tafforeau, Plestan (Yellow (4))|
Manchester United progressed to the quarterfinals of the Champions League earlier today after defeating Lille 1-0 for the second time. After the controversial winning goal from the first leg, United had a strong advantage in the series, and Lille needed a win to advance. The scorer of that controversial goal, Ryan Giggs, was left out of the lineup, and instead the more defensive minded John O'Shea was played. Lille started the game with a defensive lineup as well, hoping to stall the Red Devils, and make a score later in the match. Manchester United came into the game short of several key players due to injury, including Louis Saha (hamstring), Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer (surgery recovery), and Darren Fletcher (ankle). Striker Alan Smith was on the bench for United hoping to get back to first team action after a broken leg kept him out of the main squad for nearly a year.
United grabbed the first of the chances 15 minutes into the game after Scholes popped in a cross to Rooney, but the young striker couldn't get his volley away in time, and Mathieu Chalme moved well to block. The ensuing corner saw another good chance present itself for United, but John O'Shea's powerful headed from Carrick's kick hit only the crossbar. Lille then had a chance of their own as Makoun strafed in behind the defence to connect with a freekick by Obraniak. Makoun's header was poor, and keeper Edwin Van Der Sar had and easy time collecting the ball. When Macnhester United earned themselves a freekick outside the Lille area, two Lille players placed themselves directly in front of Paul Scholes, not allowing him to take an early kick. Lille was appearing to be playing stronger, and made quick moves on the counter attack to worry United. One fine pass by Chalme into the box was aimed for a wide open Odemwingie, but he was not able to cleanly hit the ball, and the danger passed. Cristiano Ronaldo made his presence felt in the Lille area and was brought down by Chalme in the box. Instead of a penalty, Ronaldo was awarded a yellow card for what referee Luis Cantalejo considered a dive.
The second half saw Lille continue to dominate the football match, and the first threat came through a long range shot by Keita, but Van Der Sar saved well. Odemwingie was again on the attack, but was unfortunate to see his header smash off the post. United finally had a chance of their own in the second half when defender Nemanja Vidic connected with a free kick by Rooney, but the Serbian's header flew just over the goal. A sense of anxiety was starting to fill Old Trafford until Ronaldo and Larsson combined to put the series away after 72 minutes. Ronaldo used some of his trademark moves to outwit 3 Lille defenders and knocked a well aimed ball into Larsson, who forced a powerful header into the back of the net. The goal will be the last Larsson will score for United at Old Trafford, as his loan contract expires on the 12th of March. Larsson was applauded as he left the pitch and was replaced by Alan Smith, who was eager to impress after his extended absence from the team. Lille made two changes of their own, throwing Fauvergue and Mirallis into the fray, but they never looked likely to get the two goals they needed to advance. United went on to win, but now have even more injury worries as Mikael Silvestre had to be stretchered off the field after sustaining a head injury.
- Lewis Rutledge. "Nervy United Reach Quarters" — , March 7, 2007
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