Fidelity bank banner UBA banner
Champions League: Man United back from the dead (United 3 Olympiakos 0; (agg 3-2; HOW IT HAPPENED)

By News Express on 20/03/2014

Share on facebook Yahoo mail icon Gmail icon Share on Google+

Views: 2,540

Finally, Manchester United played like Fergie’s boys again. Finally, with their backs to the wall in Europe, United rallied and gave their most powerful performance under David Moyes, playing with all the old pace, urgency and fearlessness that was their calling card under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Robin van Persie’s hat-trick guaranteed him possession of the headlines as well as the match-ball. Wayne Rooney’s work-rate, whether defending or attacking, was of the highest order. Danny Welbeck was tireless down the left, cutting inside, inviting fouls and enticing sweat-beads to take up permanent residence on Greek brows.

Ryan Giggs, with only 81 minutes’ action since Jan 7, delivered an hour and a half of intelligence, vision and a couple of the finest long-range passes imaginable.

Life continues at 40. On this evidence, Giggs should put aside any thoughts of retirement. He is still adding to the scrap-books rather than heading for the scrapyard. The player most associated with the Ferguson era helped define the most impressive performance of the nascent Moyes era.

The fans responded loudly to the deliveries of Giggs, the finishes of Van Persie. This was the Old Trafford of old, a place of passionate homage to the team. The Stretford End even briefly chorused their “come on David Moyes, play like Fergie’s boys” plea of a song.

There were nerves. There were fans on the edge of their seats, or standing beseeching the team not to sit so deep, inviting Olympiakos on.

Fortunately, there was also the soothing presence of David de Gea. United’s angular, athletic goalkeeper made a double save in the first half that Peter Schmeichel would have been proud of.

The Spaniard made a couple more stops in the second half, as well as commanding his box with a punched clearance here, and a rising claim of a catch there, to repel Olympiakos when the Greeks hunted an away goal that would have ended United’s season, and darkened the storm-clouds around Moyes.

Now they march on in Europe, going where Manchester City and Arsenal have failed this season, going further than they managed under Ferguson last season. So all the talk of Moyes being on the brink was correct; he was just on the brink of the quarter-finals after a display of sustained commitment by his players.

He got his selection right, particularly Giggs over Marouane Fellaini. He got his tactics right, a 4-2-3-1 system with more speed and balance than when Juan Mata (ineligible for Europe) starts on the right. He got the mood right, asking the fans for noise and unquestioning support.

United need to play like this more often. They need to maintain this level of tempo and ambition against West Ham United at an inhospitable Upton Park on Saturday and then at home to City on Tuesday. This cannot yet be deemed a watershed moment for Moyes but it is a welcome start, it is a lowering of the volume of all the negative background noise.

Talk of winning the Champions League is patently over-ambitious for the side deemed the 20-1 outsider of a field comprising Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid. Friday’s draw is unlikely to send United hearts soaring.

It might seem churlish to question the defence after a clean sheet but United remain vulnerable at the back. Far tougher opposing attackers lie in await, defence-wreckers of the class of Lionel Messi, Zlata Ibrahimovic, Diego Costa and Robert Lewandowski (suspended for Borussia Dortmund’s first game).

Attackers of the quality of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Franck Ribéry, Arjen Robben, Neymar and Eden Hazard could target United’s full-backs, Rafael and presumably Alex Büttner as Patrice Evra is suspended for the first leg. But enough quibbles.

This was a night to celebrate a second English team in the quarter-finals, to feel relief for Moyes during a troubled first season and to admire some exceptional individual contributions.

Moyes needed United to summon up the spirit of 1984, although more Irwell than Orwell. It was 30 years ago that United overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit in Europe, recovering against Diego Maradona’s Barcelona here. United needed a Bryan Robson, a leader, someone to drive them forward as in 1984.
Giggs was there for United as so often down the years. So was Rooney, flicking a header against the post.

For United fans it was a night of endless singing but also tension, fearing an away goal. Hernan Perez shot wastefully over after Joel Campbell, the lively Costa Rican on loan from Arsenal, had raced past Phil Jones after 16 minutes.

The fans kept with the team, kept chanting “attack, attack, attack” and their loud loyalty began to be rewarded after 25 minutes. Running on to Giggs’ sumptuous pass, Van Persie was shoved in the back by Jose Holebas. After Bjorn Kuipers, Van Persie's compatriot, eventually pointed to the spot, United’s Dutch striker calmly thumped the ball past Roberto.

Belief spread. There was now even greater urgency from United.

Van Persie then curled in a corner from the right, targeting the near-post where Evra, living up to his pre-match rhetoric, attacked the ball and only Roberto’s left hand denied him.

All of Moyes’ men were playing their part, not least De Gea with that astonishing double save five minutes from the break. With Evra again out of position, Perez cut the ball back to David Fuster, whose header was pushed out brilliantly by De Gea. The ball fell to Alejandro Domínguez, who angled a low shot but again De Gea was masterful, saving with his feet.

On the cusp of half-time, United were level on aggregate. Again Giggs was the catalyst, rolling back the years, sweeping a long pass to Rooney on the right. United’s No 10 nudged the ball forward, and picked out Van Persie’s run with a perfect pass. Van Persie did the rest from close range.

Moyes was running down the touchline towards the tunnel, in keeping with his team’s mood of men on a mission. United kept up the pressure after the break, seizing the aggregate lead within seven minutes.
When Welbeck won a free-kick 20 yards out, Rooney and Van Persie both lined up to take it. Van Persie took responsibility, curling the ball over the wall and past the flat-footed Roberto.

United had 38 minutes to hold out. Their defence never exuded total confidence. Evra was occasionally caught forward or drifting inside, allowing Campbell to deliver some crosses. De Gea stood tall, denying Fuster and Rodriguez with good saves.

United did break out. Rooney curled a right-footed shot wide. Rooney was everywhere, covering back to thwart Domínguez. Phil Jones headed clear. De Gea punched clear. Van Persie sustained an injury, departing on a stretcher, although the prognosis was that it was not too serious.

As he was carried away, United fans were on the edge of their seats, their nerves shredded, their voices hoarse, singing in praise of the team, of the magnificent De Gea, and drowning out the final whistle.

•Text courtesy Daily Telegraph. Photo shows hat-trick hero, Robin van Van Persie.

Source News Express

Posted 20/03/2014 5:03:26 PM


Share on facebook Yahoo mail icon Gmail icon Share on Google+




You may also like...
We don’t hide criminals in our midst —...

17 achievements by the Buhari Administration in 2017,...

My predecessor stole N12 billion —Niger State Governor...

Buhari orders fresh probe into Chibok girls incident...

Saraki mourns late SGF Aminu Saleh

Group wants Kano Governor dragged before International Criminal...

Govt declares indefinite curfew in Abuja community after...


NiMET forecasts rains today in Asaba, Ikom, Ogoja,...

Bloomberg TV announces partnership with Nigeria’s Optima Media...

Battle against outrageous fees takes new turn as...

Boko Haram: NSA Monguno inaugurates Helipad in Monguno...


Latest News Tinubu orders Ambode’s impeachment: Report Boko Haram on rampage in Borno, kills 38 Troops kill wife of Benue militia leader, 12 loyalists Buhari’s men, governors plot Oshiomhole’s downfall IGP asked to account for 56 missing police rifles Paris club loan: Ondo workers threaten showdown with governor Police uncover bodies of Abia pastor, two church members Governor Sani-Bello mourns former CJN Kutigi, says, he was an iconic legal giant Peter The Rock: Atiku made a wise choice picking Peter Obi as running mate for 2019 presidential election, By Ray Ekpu Philanthropist donates N1m, solicits support for Bayelsa flood victims AfDB gives $50m to Fidelity bank for SMEs UBEC’s N51b lying fallow as states fail to access fund


Most Read NUDE PHOTO OF OMOTOLA JALADE-EKEINDE surfaces online (408,110 views) Nigerian female sex addict opens up, says ‘I like it with both men and women’ (383,178 views) Shameless Genevieve Nnaji exposes breasts in public (315,554 views) Finally named: The full list of friends of Nigerian female sex addict who prowled Facebook (258,534 views) OLUMBA OLUMBA OBU (the one who called himself God) IS DEAD (238,027 views) Igbo scholar disgraces Femi Fani-Kayode •Demolishes claims on Igbo/Yoruba history with facts and figures (224,759 views) Breaking News: POPULAR REVEREND CONVERTS TO ISLAM in Kaduna (Nigeria) (204,562 views) OBJ’s son reported dead in Lagos plane crash •Names of more victims emerge (185,996 views) My wasted years in Olumba Olumba Obu’s Evil Brotherhood (170,781 views) THE FINAL DISGRACE: Igbo scholar unleashes more facts about Igbo/Yoruba history, finishes off Femi Fani-Kayode with second article (166,160 views) Lagos plane crash: Journalist releases victims’ names (161,822 views) Gunmen kill ASP, 2 other police officers in vain bid to kidnap Rivers PDP chieftain (149,562 views)


Categories Advertorials (3) African Press Organisation (81) Art & Literature (69) Business & Economy (3,701) Business Verdict (52) Columnists (949) Complaints & Requests (94) Enterprise & Opportunities (207) Entertainment (560) Features (660) Global Business Monitor (304) International (2,557) Interview (165) Live Commentary (28) Love Matters (145) News (39,795) Opinion (1,126) Pidgin (13) Politics (7,319) Religion (883) Sports (1,737) Stock Watch (35) AMA & Al Jazeera Global Update


NLNG Prize for Literature 2018

Zenith Zero Balance

CBN banner

Firstmobile banner





LIBYA vs NIGERIA 2-3 Goals Highlights


APO Group Partner




GOCOP Accredited Member

GOCOP Accredited member



Africa Media Agency and Al Jazeera