Champions League Pre-Quarter Finals 2nd leg 10th March, 2010

Venue: Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester.

Manchester United vs. AC Milan

( 1st leg Result: 3 2 )

This was one of the most anticipated match of the tournament so far. Manchester were playing at home, with a 3-2 1st leg win at Milan. After the first leg’s result, chances looked slim for Milan to make it through to the quarter finals. In order to do so they would have to beat Manchester United, at Old Trafford, by 3 goals or more. A task not many teams can achieve at Old Trafford. It looked plausible with the likes of Ronaldinho, Beckham and Pirlo in Milan squad. It was also a big moment for David Beckham, who was facing his previous club, for the first time after leaving it in 2003. As he came out of the tunnel, he received a standing ovation from the home crowd. But he was to start the match on the bench. Also, missing from the Milan’s line-up were there two key players, captain and defender – Alessandro Nesta, and forward Alexandre Pato.

The game started with both teams quickly picking up the pace, and beginning to move forward. Ronaldinho, who had scored the first goal in the 1st leg, went very close to doing it again, after his header missed the post just by a few inches. The keeper was nowhere near the ball and it was a great chance for Milan to open their account. But, it would be Rooney who drew first blood, when he scored the 1st goal of the night in the 13th minute. The goal came as a result of good team play by Manchester, which found Neville in space along the right flank, who crossed the ball in the box, to find Rooney, who made the header look quite easy.

The goal clearly sent out signal to Milan that they had to find an equaliser, if they were to stay in the game. The game carried on with both sides creating chances but none of them able to convert them to goals. It was Milan who were in a hurry, but Mancester United midfield held the possession of the ball, and their defense managed to clear any danger that Milan created. Milan’s playmakers Pirlo and Ronaldinho were tightly man-marked by Manchester players, and were not allowed much space to move with the ball. Just before the half time, Milan created some good chances, but could not produce a finish which they were desperately looking for. The game reached half time with score line 1-0 in ManU’s favor.

2nd Half. To the disappointment of the home fans, who wanted to see their old hero – David Beckham in action, he was still seating on the bench. With the way Milan ended the first half, it looked as if they would find an equalizer soon enough in 2nd half. But a minute into the 2nd half and AC Milan’s hopes were shattered when Rooney scored his 2nd goal in the 46th minute, this time with his foot. Now Milan were in dire need of a goal, if they were to make anything out of the game. They answered with attacking football, and tried to find their first goal of the night. However, it was to be Ji-Sung Park for ManU, who found the back of the net with a low shot in the 59th minute after some sweet passing amongst the ManU players. Score line 3-0. Milan needed a miracle to come back from this score line. Frankly, the game looked over with this goal. Soon after the goal, Milan brought in Beckham. He quickly got into action against his former club, making some good passes and trying to increase the tempo of the game, looking for a goal. He crossed in some excellent balls from the right flank, but none of the Milan’s player were in the right position to head the ball towards goal. Meanwhile Ronaldinho was not allowed a bit of space by ManU players, and he remained almost invisible in the last quarter of the game. Milan continued to search for a goal, and it was Beckham who came closest to scoring after his magnificent shot on a volley from outside the box, went straight into the hands of the ManU keeper. Bad luck Mr Beckham !

The game looked over after the 80th minute. Milan players knew their campaign in UEFA Champion’s league will come to an end soon. To add to the misery was the 4th goal from ManU, this time it was Fletcher who found the net with a simple header. 4-0. Game over.

It was a challenging match for both teams to start with, but Manchester United played some exceptional football in all departments, to secure an easy win and a place into the quarter finals of the Champions League.