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[HIGHLIGHTS] Man Utd 2 Marseille 1: Report & Player Ratings From Old Trafford

Manchester United defeated Olympique de Marseille 2-1 in the second leg of their Round of 16 tie, which sees that the Reds advance to the next round of the UEFA Champions League.

Javier Hernandez scored in the fifth minute, which ended Marseille’s five game scoreless streak, to give the Reds the best of starts, and then he popped up in a similar position to give United a two goal lead, but own goal by Wes Brown gave the visitors a glimmer of hope, which thankfully came to nothing.

The valuable victory, which was coincidentally was Sir Alex Ferguson’s 100th Champions League win as manager, has the Reds in the bag for the next round of the competition, which will take place on Friday.

Having drawn the first leg, Sir Alex Ferguson knew that his team needed to attack, which is why he was quite happy to recall one of his biggest playmakers, Nani, to the starting line-up after missing their big win over Arsenal.

The United back-line was hit by a major blow with the news that Nemanja Vidic was left completely out of the squad after picking up a calf injury, so Ferguson replaced him with Wes Brown to partner young Chris Smalling in the center of the United defense. After witnessing their growing understanding with each other against the Gunners, Sir Alex did not tinker with his strike partnership of Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney, which meant that Dimitar Berbatov was rooted to the bench yet again.


The Reds started the came full of confidence zinging the ball all across the pitch, and in the fifth minute they carved Marseille apart to get the early lead.

Rooney expertly sprayed the ball out wide to Ryan Giggs with a precise volley, and 40-yard run to get the ball back from the Welsh Wizard inside the Marseille penalty area, and on his weaker left foot, the United No. 10 spotted the run of his partner, and Chicharito had the simplest of tap ins to give the Reds the lead.

Four minutes later, United had their hearts in their throat as Marseille should have really been level on the night after some lack of understanding between Brown and Smalling. Andre Ayew picked out an unmarked Andre-Pierre Gignac’s run through the heart of the United defense, but the fit-again Frenchman chipped the glorious chance well over from a very good position.

Like the match at the Stade Velodrome, the game started to get bogged down in the center of the field as very few chances were being created by either side. From really a nothing challenge, Hernandez earned the first yellow card of the match with what Carlos Velasco Carballo deemed to be unfair on Gabriel Heinze, who was making his first appearance at Old Trafford since his highly controversial move away.

In a matter a seconds in the 23rd minute, United had two decent chances to increase their slender lead. First, Rooney teed up Hernandez to test Steve Mandanda, but the goalkeeper was more than up for the Mexican’s challenge, but immediately put his defense under immense pressure with a poor clearance. From the resulting clearance from Mandanda, he booted the ball directly to an almost unsuspecting Nani, who quickly ran at the Marseille defense, and then played the ball to Rooney, who made a quick overlapping run, but, unfortunately, his cut-back cross was cut out by Souleymane Diawara.

To the astonishment of everyone inside of Old Trafford, the referee gave a free-kick to Marseille in a very dangerous position just outside the right side of the United penalty area, but, thankfully, Lucho Gonzalez went for glory himself, and the ball went out for a goal kick. In the 35th minute, John O’Shea slipped passed Heinze wit ease, and had a chance to pick out a teammate in the box, but failed to do so. To add injury to insult, the full-back pulled up clutching his hamstring, and United nearly conceded the dreaded equalizer when O’Shea off the pitch receiving an assessment of his injury.

Marseille earned a corner, and it was played short to Taye Taiwo, who neatly picked out Diawara inside the six-yard box, and only the big defender will now how he did not head the ball into Edwin van der Sar’s goal from such a close range. To the manager’s dismay, O’Shea was unable to continue, so Ferguson was forced to introduce the more than capable Rafael to operate at right-back for the rest of the match.

Benoit Cheyrou, the brother of former Liverpool player, Bruno, decided to have a shot from distance, but van der Sar dealt with it in a very experienced, professional manner. At the other end, Rooney thought he saw Mandanda’s near post open, but the Marseille captain did well to parry and then smother his tame shot.

Carballo brought the first half to a close, and it was Marseille asking more of the questions towards the end of first 45 minutes after United pinned them back and, deservedly, got a goal from it. The Gaffers team talk would have been simple – focus, communicate and get another goal quickly.

From Sir Alex’s perspective, the first few minutes of the second half were anything but that as it was Marseille picking up where they left off at the end of the first. After their spell of possession, United started getting more of a foothold of the ball, and Rooney nearly picked out a defense-splitting pass on back-to-back attacks.

The first was a wonderfully cut-back pass to Hernandez, but the anxious Mexican made his run a little too early and was correctly ruled offside. Then Giggs made a direct run into the Marseille penalty area, and Rooney’s lofted pass was a tad too heavy and it allowed Mandanda to get off his line and bravely gather the ball.

Rooney did everything but deliver the final ball on United’s next attack by easily sidestepping his marker, but, instead of shooting, he needlessly tried to pick out Hernandez instead of shooting himself and the Marseille defenders cleared the danger. With no surprise, Sir Alex made his second change of the match with Antonio Valencia replacing Nani, who, to no discredit to him, was a bit reluctant following his potentially dangerous injury against Liverpool.

Taiwo sent a long ball into the United penalty area, and Brown completely mistimed his clearance, and, fortunately, for the Reds it went out for a corner and not in the back of van der Sar’s net. Needing his own little bit of inspiration, Didier Deschamps made his first substitution with the introduction of his little fiery playmaker, Mathieu Valbuena, for Gignac.

Like what happened to O’Shea in the first half, Rafael was grabbing the back of his leg in the area of his hamstring, which forced Sir Alex to make his second defensive, and final, change of the match with Fabio replacing his twin brother on the right side of defense. Valbuena’s first contribution of the match was to harass a clearance by Brown, which resulted in him not only being shoved by the much bigger United defender, but also being booked by the referee for his challenge.

Loïc Remy, who was having a very good battle against Patrice Evra all game long, broke free down the left and picked out Cheyrou, but van der Sar was down quickly to deny the chance. Marseille were punished for not taking their chance as United scored a valuable second goal.

Valencia played a fantastic through ball to Giggs on the right hand side of the Marseille defense, and the ageless winger slotted the ball across to Chicharito to clip home his second goal of the match. The goal set up a very interesting finish to the match as both teams know that Marseille needed to score twice to remain in the competition.

Deschamps was forced to make an attack-minded change with M’Bia being replaced by Jordan Ayew. Paul Scholes gifted Remy a chance to shoot, and it deflected behind for a corner kick, which was met by an unmarked Cheyrou and was luckily deflected out for another set piece.

The Reds did not learn from the mistake, and an own goal from Brown gave Marseille hope and confidence to grab a priceless second goal. With Marseille stretched, Rooney was presented a chance to shoot from distance, but his shot lacked the pace and power to trouble Mandanda, and the goalkeeper collected the effort with ease.


Sir Alex has given Wayne Rooney free reign in the center of the field, which really seems to be inspiring him to release his unmatched creative ability.


E. van der Sar – 8; J. O’Shea – 5 (Rafael – 5, Fabio – 5), C. Smalling – 5, W. Brown – 4, P. Evra – ; Nani – 5 (A. Valencia – 7), M. Carrick – 6, P. Scholes – 6, R. Giggs – 7; W. Rooney – 8, J. Hernandez – 7


J. Hernandez (5′), (75′)

Watch video highlights here


Possession: TBD
Corners: TBD
Shots (On Target): TBD
Fouls Conceded (Suffered): TBD
Bookings: J. Hernandez
Attendance: TBD

Submitted by The United Religion

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