Manchester United were lucky to return from the San Siro with a win in a match which ended some minutes ago against AC Milan, as the Milan team created more opportunities than their English counter-parts, and could have easily claim the win, but in the end they had to settle with a loss at the hands of Sir Alex’s men, 2-3 final score for this first leg of the Champions League encounter.
Manchester United could have been dead and buried by half time, but it is their never give up attitude which allowed the Red Devils to stay in the match, and take a crucial advantage back to Old Trafford while waiting for the second leg match. AC Milan were the better side of the first half, as illustrated by the quick goal scored by Ronaldinho, with a deflection off Carrick, on the 3rd minute, to give Milan the lead. From there on, it was all Milan, with United barely able to clear their lines, and with only Rooney the main attacker, United were finding it hard to even find him, let alone go forward. AC Milan were piling the pressure and United were committing many fouls, and when United tried to create an attack, it was their own players who failed to respond, with the likes of Nani wasting many crosses and passes. But against all odds, on the 36th minute, Scholes managed to level things up, with some luck it has to be said, as he could not meet Fletcher’s cross with his outstretched right foot, but the ball just hit his left knee and went past Dida in Milan’s goal.
1-1, lucky goal, but it gave United a life-line, given this is their first goal scored on the San Siro, a ground where they had never scored in previous encounters with both AC Milan and Inter Milan. Half time came as a fresh air for Man Utd players as Milan kept pecking away even having conceded an equalizer. The second half started with United looking more focused on the task, may be the after-effect of Sir Alex’s ‘hair-dryer’ treatment in the the dressing room, but still Milan were looking menacing as they took opportunities of United’s defensive lacking to try get their second goal.
However, the second goal came at the other end, as Valencia, who came on for the ineffective Nani only some seconds ago, got his first ball, took on Favalli, and delivered a pin-point cross onto Rooney’s head for the latter to score, with a helpless Dida glued on his line. Rooney had a very difficult match before that goal, and even picked a yellow in the first half for saying some unpleasant words to the ref, but that goal just seemed to bring new life into him as he started provoking Milan’s defense with some powerful runs and attempts on goal. His second came on 74th minute, as Fletcher delivered another beautiful cross into the box, and Rooney timed his run perfectly to head home, with Dida yet again glued on his line, without any reaction.
United however allowed themselves to be flattered by that scoreline, and Milan, with Inzaghi brought on, started to threaten again, and eventually Seedorf with a cheeky back-flick, found the second goal for Milan, thus setting up a tense finish as the crowd wanted the equalizer, while United were defending desperately to hold on to the one goal advantage. More drama occurred however in added time, as Carrick was sent off for a second yellow, although it was unclear what happened, since Evra fouled Pato near the half-way line, but then the ref took out a yellow then a red for Carrick, and it was virtually the end of the game as well, so a rather contradictory sending off, unless Carrick did something bad not seen on TV.
United will have some time to review how to take on the second leg at home, since AC Milan today did not deserve to lose, and had the best opportunities as well but failed to convert them. The dark spots for this game are the sending off of Carrick, and the inefficiency of Nani as he played so badly that even Rooney was having a go at him at times during the match, and he was rightly subbed for the more impressive Valencia, makes me wonder why Sir Alex in fact left him on the bench in a match like this
Also in another game played for the Champions League, Lyon saw off Real Madrid 1-0, goal from Makoun in the second half to give the French side a lead to defend for their trip to Spain.