Before the match, Sir Alex had said that his side will prove to Didier Deschamps that they are still capable of producing their fair share of magic, but it was a very tense game for the Red Devils as they yet again failed to impress and allowed Marseille to dominate, but it needed two good goals from Chicharito, two tap-ins to be precise, to finally see off Marseille (Desole Didier, mais faut attendre encore pour avoir le dessus sur les Diables Rouge 😛 ), and Brown added to the suspense by scoring an own goal to keep the nerves on the edge till the final whistle. However, if United want to proceed to the next stages from hereon, they will indeed have to produce magical performances, else get swallowed by teams like Barcelona or Inter.
United scored with only 5 minutes played, as Giggs and Rooney combined, and the latter’s pass across the box was met by Chicharito to tap home past Mandanda, but from there on, United’s bad habits took over, as Marseille crept back in the game to take possession of the ball, while United looked more on the counters to attack. United had to proceed with a change on the 36th minute, as O’Shea seemed to have pulled a hamstring, and Rafael came on to replace him. An amusing scene on the bench however, as at one point, Sir Alex seemed to be looking at Berbatov sitting down below him, and he made a comment to his assistant, and both men had a good laugh afterwards, after the latter had a glance at Berbatov as well, only the devil knows what they were saying on the poor man who seems to have lost his place in the starting 11.
Half time 1-0, and while I was thinking the second half would be more in United’s way, I was proved to be wrong, as Marseille continued to keep the ball. Nani, who was supposed to be out for a couple of weeks more, made a surprising return and even started, but on the 60th minute was subbed for Valencia. Rafael then made way on the 69th minute, the substitute being subbed as he too pulled a hamstring, and Fabio had to be sent on, whereby no more changes to make, and Berbatov sitting quietly on the bench. Marseille were still looking for their equalizer, but Chicharito had other plans for them, as Valencia sent Giggs thru at the limit of the offside trap, and the latter fed the ball yet again across goal for Chicharito to tap in again to make it 2-0. Again I was thinking the job was done, Brown headed into his own net on the 82nd minute from a corner, and while Scholes tried to clear the ball, it was too late as it had completely crossed the line and half-way in the net. This goal gave Marseille a new breath as they looked for a second which would qualify them on the away goal rule, but United somehow managed to hold on and claim a spot in the quarter-finals. The draw will now be held on Friday to know which team will face each other, and of course yet other games to be played tonight (Wednesday) to get the full list of qualified teams.
Yet another disappointing display by United despite the win, but they are winning the ugly way, while in the past United used to offer very pleasant games to watch, alas the departure of Ronaldo and Tevez seems to have washed off the “sexy” and the players available today are more after the money in the business rather than play the beautiful game with all their hearts…