O’Shea strike gives United the edge as Arsenal out-gunned
Written by Gareth Freeman
Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal
United gained a slender advantage over Arsenal in their quest to make it to the Champions League final for the second year in a row with a thoroughly deserved 1-0 victory at Old Trafford.
The Gunners have keeper Manuel Almunia to thank for keeping the score line respectable in the opening 45 minutes as United pummeled the Londoners from all angles. The Spanish stopper denied Wayne Rooney early on with an incredible save from the United striker’s looping headed effort.
Cristiano Ronaldo was in inspired form for the big occasion and the Gunners defence just couldn’t cope with the Portuguese schemer. Almunia was called into action to deny Ronaldo more than once and the Arsenal keeper produced an unbelievable save to deny Carlos Tevez from six yards out.
United’s goal came from the most unlikely of sources, Irishman John O’Shea. Arsenal failed to deal with a corner and O’Shea was on hand to drill the ball into the roof of the net, giving Almunia no chance.
Arsenal had to deal with an almost relentless tide of United attacking for the majority of the game and although it would be lazy to claim it was all down to Carlos Tevez he was a major factor in United’s dominance. The Argentine was selected over Dimitar Berbatov and repaid Ferguson’s faith by working tirelessly giving the Arsenal defence no respite.
Arsenal came back into the game, slightly, after the break but they never looked like getting a goal back. Emmanuel Adebayor was ineffective in his role of lone front man, while Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri could find no way through the United back line. Cesc Fabregas carved out a few half-chances for himself but even the talented Spaniard could do little to halt the United onslaught.
Ryan Giggs made an appearance as a second-half substitute making his 800th appearance for Manchester United. The Welshman managed to get the ball in the net but he was ruled to be offside.
Ronaldo nearly stole the headlines with a fierce drive from 30-yards that left Almunia rooted to the spot. Unfortunately for Ronaldo he was denied another Champions League wonder goal by the crossbar as Arsenal breathed a sigh of relief.
As exciting as the game was it was hardly the ‘perfect’ semi-final Ferguson had predicted. In truth the game was about as one-sided as it could be at this level of football and Arsenal should be out of the tie already. As it stands though the Gunners still have a reasonable chance to progress, though I wouldn’t go betting on it, with just a one goal deficit to recover in the second leg on May 5.
Man of the match: Manuel Almunia
It feels wrong to chose an Arsenal player as man of the match for a Manchester United blog but Almunia is the only reason Arsenal were not on the end of a three or four nil hammering. The Spaniard was in inspired form and if Arsenal do upset the betting odds it will be largely due to the heroics of their keeper in the first leg.
Man Utd: Van der Sar, O’Shea, Ferdinand (Evans 87), Vidic, Evra, Fletcher, Carrick, Anderson (Giggs 66), Ronaldo, Tevez (Berbatov 66), Rooney.
Subs Not Used: Foster, Park, Scholes, Rafael Da Silva.
Goals: O’Shea 18.
Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Silvestre, Gibbs, Song, Diaby, Walcott (Bendtner 70), Fabregas, Nasri, Adebayor (Eduardo 82).
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Denilson, Ramsey, Djourou, Eboue.
|Manchester United||Team Statistics||Arsenal|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|7||Shots on Target||1|
|6||Shots off Target||3|