LONDON - Manchester United did on Tuesday what they failed to do at Old Trafford last week, killing off Arsenal's dreams of European glory by converting their chances in an outstanding display. Arsenal could have gone into the Champions League second leg three or four goals behind if the European champions had taken their opportunities before halftime in the first leg. Instead, United came to the Emirates protecting a slender 1-0 lead but they did not let Arsenal dodge the noose a second time. Although the home side, boosted by more than 50,000 fans, started brightly, the deafening atmosphere was silenced after just 11 minutes after United scored twice to take a stranglehold on the game they never relinquished. Mistakes by teenage defender Kieran Gibbs and Spanish goalkeeper Manuel Almunia allowed Park Ji-sung and Cristiano Ronaldo to put United 2-0 ahead. Arsenal's young side then simply ran out of ideas against a superbly organised and hard-working United team who did not face a serious threat on their goal until the 63rd minute. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger's team selection and tactics were widely questioned last week when he played Samir Nasri as a holding midfielder and Fabregas in an advanced position. But he was convinced that Arsenal would make up for their poor display at Old Trafford and score the goals that would take them to the final in Rome. Instead of his young players coming of age in this game, however, they were simply brushed aside. Even the return of Dutch striker Robin van Persie after injury failed to lift the Gunners and Emmanuel Adebayor had another largely anonymous game as the almost invisible leader of Arsenal's front line. OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE In contrast, United were assured at the back, worked tirelessly in midfield and were aided by outstanding performances from World and European Footballer of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, the new favourite to be named England's Footballer of the Year. Ronaldo scored two outstanding goals, one a solo effort from a 40-metre free kick and the second to complete a devastating, sweeping counter-attacking move which instantly became a contender for goal of the season. Arsenal have now gone four seasons without winning a trophy, while United remain on course to win four prizes in this campaign alone. The World Club Championship and the League Cup have been secured, the Premier League title will be retained if they take just seven points from their last four games. United are also on course to become the first team since AC Milan in 1990 to retain the European Cup and United head for the final in Rome unbeaten in 25 Champions League matches. As a contest, it was all over in 11 minutes. As a footballing masterclass Arsenal's youngsters were given a lesson that lasted 90 minutes. The Arsenal fans must hope that players like Fabregas, Theo Walcott and Van Persie, whose contracts are all still to be finalised, follow their example and decide to search for silverware elsewhere. NEWS: Ruthless Red Devils reach Rome with ease PHOTOS: Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United UNITED FANS! Check FourFourTwo.com’s ever-expanding interviews archive for more stuff to read: Web Exclusives Wayne Rooney, Peter Schmeichel, Carlos Tevez Q&A Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruud Van Nistlerooy One on One David Beckham, George Best Ask A Silly Question Bryan Robson Boy's A Bit Special Danny Simpson Perfect XI Garth Crooks, Bryan Robson, Sir Bobby Charlton, Eric Cantona What Happened Next? David May, Norman Whiteside Sing When You’re Winning Dominic Monaghan, Ian Brown And Another Thing Being a Big Four fan Plus! Rate United players (and others) on Talentspotter ARSENAL FANS! Check FourFourTwo.com’s ever-expanding interviews archive for more stuff to read: Web Exclusives Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas Q&A Theo Walcott, Cesc Fabregas One on One Arsene Wenger, Thierry Henry, Ian Wright Boy's A Bit Special Theo Walcott, Armand Traore Perfect XI Ian Wright What Happened Next? Gus Caesar, Peter Marinello And Another Thing Being a Big Four fan Plus! Rate Arsenal players (and others) on Talentspotter
6 May 2009
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