In the second UEFA Champions League semifinal this week, Manchester United looks to join Barcelona in the final by holding on to a 2-0 aggregate lead at home.
United dominated in the first leg and with plenty left to fight for in the league, the Red Devils starting lineup left out several regulars including Wayne Rooney, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Ryan Giggs.
Please join me here for a live blog conversation of the game. I’ll be keeping an eye on the comments section.
FINAL: Manchester United 4 - Schalke 1.
Analysis: Manchester United advances on 6-1 aggregate, setting up a dream final between United and Barcelona. As they did in the first leg, United showed to be by far the better team. Playing without several stars, United moved the ball well and finished its chances. Schalke, in the end, provided little resistance. What a Champions League final it will be, and then a rematch here in Washington this summer.
77’ - Michael Owen on for Berbatov.
76’ - GOAL! Boy was I wrong about Manchester United limiting damage. As Schalke opens up more, the Red Devils have taken advantage. Berbatov makes a run and gets open, then crosses to Anderson for his second. Manchester United 4 - Schalke 1
75’ - Matip on for Farfan.
72’ - GOAL! Anderson cements it for Manchester United. Nani does well to come down the end line and drive a low cross into the box. Anderson’s first shot is blocked but he gets up, turns and gets a left-footed shot under Neuer. Manchester United 3 - Schalke 1.
70’ - As you’d expect, Manchester United has looked to slow the pace and contain more than anything. With 20 minutes to go, don’t expect that tactic to change much. Schalke is going to have to really earn any quality looks at net. Schalke brings in Huntelaar for Howedes.
60’ - Evra comes in for Rafael.
55-56’ - Anderson nearly finds the far post only to see Neuer push it wide. What a save. Leads to a pair of corner kicks, Berbatov’s header over the top on the second corner ends threat.
51’ - Solid possession there by Schalke. Raul backheels for Farfan, whose shot is deflected out. Corner for Schalke but it’s cleared for another corner. This time they take it short but get nothing out of it.
46’ - The second half is underway. Edu enters for Schalke, relacing Baumjohann. Schalke likely with three up top now. Let’s hope for a back-and-forth final half.
First half and full lineups after the jump.
HALTIME: Manchester United 2 - Schalke 1
Analysis: After a dearth of attacking action in the first 25 minutes, we were treated to a thrilling 10 minute period with three goals. Schalke has to be encouraged they didn’t fade after the second goal, but they still have a long way to go to get back into the bigger picture, down 4-1 on aggregate. I expect an open final 45 minutes.
35' - GOAL! Perhaps we’re all speaking too soon? A poor giveaway in the final third gives Schalke life and Jurado blasts a shot into the near side. It’s 4-1 on aggregate. Manchester United 2 - Schalke 1.
31’ - GOAL! Gibson scores after setting up the first strike. Manchester United taking over again. A quick throw leads to an attack and the shot is right at Neuer, who surprisingly lets it in right off his hands. Man U fans, if they haven’t already, can start booking their trips to Wembley. Manchester United 2 - Schalke 0
26’ - GOAL! Valencia gets in on the right side courtesy of a wonderfully played through ball from Gibson streaking toward goal. Slots it under Neueur for the finish. Manchester United 1 - Schalke 0
15’ - Not too many early threats from either side. A good effort by Berbatov in the box was a scary moment for Schalke only briefly before Neuer easily collected a short cross.
8’ - Farfan with an effort early from on top of the 18-yard box. Perhaps should have done better with that one, but puts it wide of the frame.
5’ - We’re underway at Old Trafford. Sorry for the slight delay, as I had to get out to Centreville, Va., so that I’m closer to Manassas for an assignment tonight. Schalke will go for it, obviously, but it’ll be interesting to see how Man U play early on.
Man Utd Starting XI: Van der Sar; Rafael Da Silva, Smalling, Evans, O’Shea; Gibson, Scholes, Anderson; Valencia, Berbatov, Nani. Subs: Kuszczak, Evra, Owen, Giggs, Hernandez, Vidic, Fletcher
Schalke 04 Starting XI: Neuer; Uchida, Howedes, Metzelder, Escudero; Papadopoulos, Jurado, Farfan, Baumjohann; Draxler, Raul. Subs: Schober, Sarpei, Edu, Schmitz, Karimi, Huntelaar, Matip