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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Player Ratings: Manchester United 1-0 Barcelona

Manchester United progressed to what will be an all-English Champions League final after a 1-0 win against Barcelona at Old Trafford.

Manchester United

Van der Sar: 6 - Was quite shaky with his kicking again. Made one good save from Lionel Messi and kept the clean sheet his side needed.

Hargreaves: 8 - Gave the tireless Iniesta absolutely no joy, as his defensive discipline was essentially faultless.

Ferdinand: 9 - Made many strong and vital challenges, particularly in the first half and led a fantastic defensive line with authority.

Brown: 8.5 - Put in one of his performances of the season when it was most needed. Made good challenges - and crucially, no glaring errors - as he did well to silence the threat of Eto'o as well as Messi.

Evra: 8.5 - Another stellar showing from the full-back, who was often one of the most advanced players on the pitch in the first half, and still managed to be a key defensive player, again forcing Messi into the middle of the park as he did his utmost to match the phenomenon.

Park: 6.5 - Energetic as ever, but also of little use when in possession of the ball. He filled a space and did a job for his team, so full credit for his work ethic. (I read the opposition below, but I stand by my rating. He was picked as a winger, one must remember).

Carrick: 7.5 - Put in a solid performance in central midfield, passing fairly well and getting back well to help out the defence

.Scholes: 7.5 - A little slow to start, and almost gave away an early penalty, but scored a brilliant goal that settled the tie and played a tidy game in midfield thereafter.

Nani: 6.5 - Cannot be faulted for his work-rate, again. Wasn't quite as dynamic as he's been known to be but worked for the team and put himself about. Had a headed chance that could have killed the game.

Ronaldo: 7 - Did not put in the sparkling, Ballon d'Or-winning performance everyone was looking for, but up front he was never going to be in the game as much as he usually is. His movement on and off the ball made him an absolute handful for Barcelona, all he was missing was a key goal or assist to make the headlines. Played for his team nonetheless, and had a huge part to play in the only goal of the tie.

Tevez: 8 - Like Ronaldo, was not the most involved at the sharp end of the pitch, but worked extremely hard and closed Barca down in and around the centre-circle where they were looking to start off all their wonderful passing moves. He did most of the unsettling for United, and put in a far better performance than he did last week.


Ryan Giggs: n/a

.Darren Fletcher: 6 - Stuck his foot in in classic Fletcher fashion and gave Barcelona no breathing space at the death.

Silvestre: n/a.

BarcelonaValdes: 5 - Looked a little shaky coming for the aerial balls, but was as good as powerless to stop Scholes' top corner rocket.

Zambrotta: 3 - Hugely culpable for the goal, as he played a blind pass back into the danger-zone on the edge of the area. After hitting good form lately, he picked the worst possible game to undo all his recent good work. An absolutely horrendous first half that practically lost Barcelona the tie.

Puyol: 7 - Not a lot more could have been asked of the returning captain, who put his body on the line time after time to keep United at bay as they looked for the killer second goal.

Milito: 5 - Similarly gung-ho to his defensive partner, but with a little less accuracy. Committed too many fouls and did not have the best of games.

Abidal: 7.5 - Was solid in a defensive capacity and involved in some good link-up play going forward. Barcelona's best defender, and had Nani and Hargreaves on a short leash.

Xavi: 7 - Pulled the strings in midfield. Was quite strong in the challenge as well and won a few balls for his side. The one black mark against his name was the backwards passing. Sometimes his obsession with possession came at the cost of direct attempts at goal.

Toure Yaya: 8 - A real rock in midfield. Dominated anything in front of him and showed a deft touch when in possession as well. Too bad all that counted for nothing in the end. A fine individual effort nonetheless.

Deco: 5 - Quite woeful. Had a good chance to score in the first half but failed to take it, was sloppy in possession and did not provide a single moment of Deco magic to atone for it either.

Messi: 7.5 - Fought admirably and regularly had the beating of his man, but as a forward, his job is to score, and not even he could manage that tonight against a tight defensive line that doubled and tripled up on the wonderkid when necessary to keep him at bay. Would perhaps have deserved a 9 had Barcelona nicked a goal.

Eto'o: 4 - Did not receive as much service as he would have liked, but when he did, his touch was absolutely shocking. Every time Messi sent the ball to his feet, he made a mess of it. Another very disappointing game from the Cameroon international.

Iniesta: 6 - Was marked well by Owen Hargreaves and unable to hit top gear. Would have been better off in midfield, unlucky to be substituted when he could have occupied Deco's position, who did not have the best of games.


Henry: 5 - His one contribution to the game was putting a free header straight at van der Sar at the death.

Bojan: n/a.

Gudjohnsen: n/a

.Sulmaan Ahmad