Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Manchester United Holds Barcelona to Goalless Draw at Nou Camp

English club near to playing final of UEFA Champions League

Barcelona and Manchester United played the second semifinal of the UEFA Champions league on April 23 at the Nou Camp Stadium in front of 98,700 spectators. The other was played the day before in Liverpool where the home team drew 1-1 with Chelsea. Manchester United had not played at this stadium since 1999 when it won that year’s edition of the UEFA Champions League after defeating Bayern Munich of Germany. This was the English club’s second time to win the European competition, the first being in 1968. Barcelona have also won this trophy twice (1992 and 2006) and the local fans are certainly eager to win it a third time. The match could have begun disastrously for Barcelona if Cristiano Ronaldo had scored the penalty that was awarded to him in the second minute of play. The Portuguese national team player and currently the player with the highest transfer fee in world football headed the ball towards the Barcelona goal but Gabriel Milito blocked it with his hands and referee Massimo Bussaca pointed to the penalty spot. Amazingly, Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot missed the goal completely and also squandered a great opportunity for his team to go ahead in the scoreboard. This missed chance lifted the spirits of the Barcelona players that headed by Argentine star Lionel Messi began to constantly attack the Man.Utd goal. However, Messi and his teammates were unable to finalize the many chances they created for themselves, while Man.Utd were satisfied to stay in its own half and prevent Barcelona from scoring. Apart from Messi, there were two other Argentineans on the field, Carlos Tevez (Man. Utd) and the before mentioned Milito. There were no goals scored in the first half and the only clear chance for Barcelona occurred in the 51st minute when Messi and Samuel Etoo made a good combination of passes that the Cameroon striker was unable to convert from close range. In the 61st minute the Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard realized that Messi had tried all his tricks against Man.Utd and so substituted him with Bojan Krcic. The final twenty minutes continued that usual trend as Manchester United´s disciplined defenders kept the locals at bay and obtained its objective of getting a goalless draw. After this result, Man.Utd has to beat Barcelona by a one-goal difference at Old Trafford in order to advance to the final. In theory that match will be played on May 21 in Moscow but the Russian Football Federation has declared that if two English teams qualify, it will renounce to staging the final of the 2008 UEFA Champions league.

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