I am still too happy to write a match report. I was also a nervous wreck while watching the match yesterday. So expect very little sense from this report.
Fergie came up with the biggest surprise of all while naming his XI — Wayne Rooney started. So did Vidic. It was a 4-4-2 formation and the plan was clear: attack from the outset. So with EVDS, a back four of Evra-Vidic-Rio-Brown, midfield of Park-Carrick-Scholes-Ronaldo and front two of Tevez and Rooney we had the best XI in our side in a long time. And what a time for it all to come together!
True to expectations (of mine, that is, not of the media), Wigan had a go and were inspired. Overall they would really be kicking themselves for not putting away a few chances that came their way. Surprisingly, we seemed ill at ease with the aerial bombardment from Valencia, Koumas and co; Bent and Heskey created enough problems for our defence. Ballack and Drogba might be rubbing their hands if they saw that yesterday.
Scholes was perhaps lucky to stay on the pitch as he could have easily have been sent off for a second yellow card offence — it really was touch and go, to be honest. Of course, Steve Bennett didn’t have a particularly memorable match as he clearly missed a stonewall penalty when Scholes was hacked to the ground by Shitus Bramble in the box.
Earlier, Ronaldo converted from the spot, when Rooney was brought to ground, to net his 41st of an extraordinary season. However with Wigan threatening a 1-0 was always going to be nerve-wracking. It’s really hard to enjoy games like these when they are being played out. 1-0 was too little a margin for me to breathe easy. Which was why my joy knew no bounds when Rooney sent Giggs through and the Welshman made no mistake when he was one on one with the ‘keeper.
Giggsy has faced a lot of stick from fans — and more often than not, they were deserved — but on his record equalling appearance for United when he scored only his third of the season it adds another touch of poignancy to the win. We won our Champions’ League in ’99 on Sir Matt Busby’s 90th birth anniversary. Paul Scholes, who was otherwise quiet this season from a goalscoring point of view and missed that night in ’99, scored a screamer against Barcelona to take us into Moscow. (Where we have the chance to win it on the 50th anniversary year of the Munich disaster.) And now, another stalwart, and a member of the ‘old guard’, scores the goal that seals the deal and makes us all breathe a sigh of relief. Giggs, you beauty, you are forever a United legend.
If you are one for sentiment and poignancy, well, here you are — feast yourself for there couldn’t have been a better script.
More important, at the end of the day, was the man behind it all. The man who brought us just one shy of Liverpool’s record of 18 titles. The boss, whose name today has been all over the papers today, awash with encomiums and in his ability to adapt to the changing times. It was very moving to see the desire, the hunger and the pride in Sir Alex Ferguson’s face. And for this sight alone, I think the players owe him another Champions’ League crown.
So Moscow, here we come. Full speed ahead.
Come on you reds!
Here’s a link to the MOTD video. Download it while it lasts.
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