Manchester United survive Marseille scare to progress
Manchester United saw off a spirited performance from Olympique Marseille to keep alive their dream of an emotional return to Wembley thanks to a brace from Javier Hernandez. United were dealt with a massive setback when captain Nemanja Vidic was ruled out with a calf injury he picked during the weekend clash against the Gunners. Nani made an incredible recovery to start on the right, with O’Shea preferred to Rafael at right back and Hernandez kept his position alongside Wayne Rooney. For Marseille, in-form striker Andre-Pierre Gignac started, having missed the first leg through injury.
United off to a flier:
Any early nerves among the Old Trafford faithful would soon be settled as early as the fifth minute. Wayne Rooney having played a played a ball out to Giggs burst forward into the Marseille box, received the ball back from Giggs and with his next touch, delivered an impeccable cross for Hernandez to tap in. This would be a precedent as most of United’s play would comprise of Rooney’s distribution and Hernandez’s off the ball movement.
Marseille spurn glorious chances:
Manchester United continued making forays through Nani and Rooney but with little to show for in the final third. Marseille who looked unsettled for most of the first half-half hour had a glorious chance to go ahead when Andre Ayew chipped a delightful ball for Gignac who got in between Brown and O’Shea but parried his shot way above the post. After John O’Shea had to go off after pulling a hamstring, Marseille had the easiest opportunity of the entire tie as Diawara found himself unmarked at the edge of the six yard box but somehow managed to misdirect his header from a teasing cross cross by Taiwo.
Hernandez calms the nerves yet again
Early in the second half, Rooney worked his way into the Marseille penalty box and left Diawara for dead, but instead of having a crack, he tried to find Hernandez and Marseille managed to clear the danger. But as the half wore on Marseille became more aggressive and Edwin Van der Sar had to get down quickly to his right to keep out Benoit Cheyrou. However, once again it was the young Mexican who would rise to the occasion. Antonio Valencia who came on for Nani, threaded a immaculately weighted pass for Giggs whose right footed cross was nonchalantly dispatched by the Mexican to double United’s advantage.
A glimmer of hope:
Marseille got a glimmer of hope when Wes Brown headed a vicious looking corner into his own goal. Scholes’ effort to keep the ball out was in vain as replays confirmed the ball was well beyond United’s goal line. The last six minutes or so were bound to be nervy but United managed to see of any last ditch attempts conjured by Didier Deschamp’s men.
It wasn’t the most convincing of victories for United but then in cup competitions especially in Europe’s elite Cup Competition results are what matters and United ground one out today. Rooney’s all round play was excellent, so was the off the ball movement from Hernandez. With Valenica looking like he hasn’t been away and Vidic and Ferdinand expected to be back at the heart of United’s defence soon, the Wembley dream well and truly lives on!