Thursday, February 26, 2009

Commanding Performances from the Reds'

Its not often that Jose Mourinho is outwitted tactically, but Tuesday night at the San Siro saw Manchester United produce a tactically perfect performance against the Italian champions. Sir Alex Ferguson will be disappointed though that his team failed to score a crucial away goal in spite of an otherwise immaculate performance in the first leg. Ferguson opted to leave Wayne Rooney on the bench and went with a three man central midfield which overran Inter Milan with great ease for most part of the match. Playing Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher as a double pivot in front of the back four resulted in United effortlessly nullifying any threat that the Nerazzurri midfield diamond could muster and provided Ryan Giggs with ample opportunities to run at the heart of the Internazionale defence. Carrick was at his glorious best once again on Tuesday night, breaking up attacks with great aplomb and helping United maintain possession which can be most decisive in European games. Fletcher went about his job with characteristic professionalism and Giggs was once again first-rate in what is turning out to be a golden season for the Welshman.

With Vidic suspended, Jonny Evans who was a major doubt going into the match was outstanding against the Inter front two of Zlatan Ibrahamovic and Adriano. Although the Inter forwards were decidedly mediocre on the night, Evans once again displayed why he is so highly regarded at Old Trafford by producing another regal performance at the back. In what was a terrific team effort, the contributions of Cristiano Ronaldo stood out for its overall distinction. Ronaldo ran at the young Italian full back Davide Santon throughout the match with great verve and exemplified United’s excellent performance in terms of their approach play. Unfortunately for the Reds, they were unable to find the back of the net, for had they done so, the tie could have well been settled in Italy. As it stands though, Inter Milan continue to possess a great chance, but having said that if United dominate possession as they did on Tuesday night, the Italians look highly unlikely to go through to the quarter finals.

***

Liverpool kept up the good work of the English clubs by fashioning another memorable European performance with a commanding victory at the Santiago BernabĂ©u stadium last night. Rafael Benitez has a knack of getting it right in the Champions League and his tactical nous once again shone through against Real Madrid. Yossi Benayoun’s 82nd minute strike from a Fabio Aurelio free kick means that Madrid have their task cut out going into the second leg at Anfield.

Madrid went into the game full of confidence having triumphed in their last nine league games but were thwarted by a typically dogged Liverpool midfield. Xabi Alonso was superb in his holding role in front of the back four and if not for Casillas’ acrobatics, his splendid sixty yard effort could have well found the back of the net. Liverpool sat back for most of the first half inviting Madrid to have a go at them, but Real’s passing and movement was dreadfully sluggish allowing the Reds to take control of the match right from the off. Arjen Robben offered the only source of danger, but his often infuriatingly selfish play meant that Real Madrid benefited scarcely from any of his mazy dribbles. Benitez will be telling his players that the tie remains to be settled, but barring a major debacle from Liverpool, the five time champions should sail through to the next round.

1 comment:

visa said...

marking my attendance!