Champions league: Lille v Manchester United

February 20, 2007

Bad pitch. Hard and balding.

Van De Sar

Neville Vidic Ferdinand Evra

Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes, Giggs

Larson, Rooney

1T:

4- Neville chopped maliciously. YELLOW Fauverguie…

Vidic firm in the challenge. Impressive strength.

12– Scholes takes down a frog with a crunching two footed lunge…no booking.

Impotent possession from Lille.

15- EVRA Yellow. For losing possession then slashing at the right calf of the luckless Debauchy with a switchblade he had stashed in his jockstrap..

16- Ronaldo fortunate with ricochet, almost twists his way into a shooting position in the box..

Crowd trouble. Police in. United fans.. Batons cracking jaws!!

20-Scholes finds Rooney in the 18 yard area who turns and shoots but hits the ball well over the target…he was been ‘muscled’ to the floor as he shot. Rooney lively.

Evra cross finds Rooney but the striker’s first time shot is mis-hit across the box…

22- Giggs corner>>Silva the Lille keeper, flaps his arms like a butterfly’s wings… but Lille get away with it..

Game suddenly open…waves of United energy flowing towards the Lille goal…

Lille dowse the flickering flames with another bout of impotent, uninspiring possession.

Ronaldo must have forgotten his box of tricks/.

Nicknamed ‘the cleaner’…Lille defensive midfielder, Makoun…

Clever Rooney flicks a ball into the path of strike partner, Larson who wins a corner…

25-corner kick wasted by Giggs…

Rooney dropping deeper into midfield to get involved more in the play…

27- Evra hamstrung by Debauchy…YELLOW (merited, even though this was a revenge attack for Evra’s earlier slash and run routine)

Lille manager Claude Puel looks on with fierce concern.

Vidic grabs Odemwingie…The Lille player needlessly performs an imitation with his hands of a booking…the ref duly obliges YELLOW…Giggsy not happy with the sign language.

Neville sorts out brief moment of danger in box, heading coolly back to van de SAR.

Lille in the ascendancy.

Ronaldo down on the deck after head-butt from behind…there-after he is booed by the fans every time he touches the ball. I don’t like him as a person but on this occasion he had every reason to show a slight touch of irritation and pain given the skull to skull confrontation with his marker…

So far the French have made even Ronaldo seem British in terms of sportsmanship..

34- Evra floored whilst in full flight but ref adjudged the left back to have lost control of the ball before the scissor kick halted his progress by skinning his thighs///

38-Evra concedes a corner through heading a free kick away from his goal.

41– Rooney into the box and heading towards the 6 yard box, he finds Larson whose shot is blocked…ball falls to Ronaldo looking to clean up but his effort also is cleared and the move breaks down…

45- Boomer finds space to get a shot away from 25 yards out, left boot, just past the post…

HT

Both teams have shown attacking intent. Possession of the ball has mainly been at the feet of
Lille but they are less toothsome in attack than their British opponents, United, who have come closest to opening the scoring. Resolute defending from both rearguards is proving the main obstacle to goals and entertainment for the neutral. Though, as a fan who can appreciate Cannavarro viciously brining a player to the floor then emerging from the battle with the ball at his feet and a mischievous grin on his choirboy face, I have been impressed not only with Vidic for United, but also by the central pairing at the back for Lille. Makoun The Cleaner is keeping his home turf relatively spic and span…But with Rooney around, all the efforts geared towards cleanliness could count for nothing. Giggsy has been anonymous. Ronaldo disappointing. Scholes and Carrick too busy blocking the powerful running of the Lille midfield. Neville Mr. dependable…A game depressingly devoid of shots and goalmouth action. Likeliest to break the deadlock??? Undoubtedly Wayne Rooney: Sharp as the teeth of a sabre tooth tiger. With comparable aggression.

2t

49-Ferdinand is thankfully strong enough to steal the ball from Odemwingie, who had raced into the area in an attempt to latch onto a sneaky but effective through ball.

51- Rooney skips past two tackles, drives himself and the ball into the box, shimmies past another player then chips a pass to Giggs at the far post who is inches away from connecting…Wicked Wayne.

54- Rooney puts Ronaldo through on goal. The Portuguese man of war skins the defender and shoots..but his drive is saved; the rebound is collected by Ronaldo who pushed the ball back to Rooney whose shot is unworthy of such a divine boot… 

55-Vidic crumples Odemwingie…subsequent free kick>> weak header easily saved by Van De Sar…

57- Cadabye on for Fauvergue…SUB…(2 defensive midfielders, 3 offensive mid, 2 attackers).

58-Odemwingie puts through Boomer, who steadies himself then tries to poke the ball past Van De Sar who deflects the shot for a corner with his feet. Class save.

59- Vidic lost his footing…boomer hits it wide…Odemwingie had taken a terrible dive prior to the chance.

60- Makoun drive from 20 yards blocked,.

62- Tafferau races down the left wing, crosses…Odemwingie heads home, GOAL disallowed!!! Infringement was pushing Vidic…dubious decision, especially bearing in mind he is a dwarf compared to the Croatian stopper…

Lille turning the screw.

67- Saha on for Ronaldo. SUB.

68- Dummy by Giggs puts Saha in on goal; his shot is well saved, too central.

Dejected Ronaldo, tears streaming down his immaculate face, throws his boot into the ground.

69- Odemwingie cuts in and tries to bend one round the far post…2 yards wide…

Flowing Rooney inspired move results in Larson chipping a left foot shot towards the unguarded top corner, which drifts just over the bar..

75- Ausel on for Odemwingie… SUB

81- Chance at near post spurned by Asserl after pacey cross opened up the space…

83- Giggsy takes free kick quickly. Scores!! 0-1 GOALLL…the welsh-man even took me by surprise, yellow for Silva for reluctance to accept the goal…legitimate and cunning by Rooney, who played a part in the disguise and Giggsy who struck the ball!…Silva was organizing the wall when the ball flew into the net!!!!

84-Lille players coming off the field…they can’t accept the goal. Ref stopping his watch. Debate on sidelines…Ferguson and Quieroz involved but only to wave their players back onto the pitch, awat from the trouble… Neville had been the first United player to remonstrate with the defiant Lille crowd of players and staff…

86- play resumes>??? Indeed it does…to choruses of sour boos from the crowd.

Neville getting pelted with plastic bottles and freshly laid dog shit… Unfazed the proud and some would say stupid Englishman walks a manly stride to kick the rubbish away and gets on with it.

90- 3 mins of stoppage time to be played.

93– Scholes for O Shea SUB

94= Full time. Lille 0-1 Manchester United

Hardly a spectacle of foot-balling brilliance- as is intended by the doctrine of the Champions league- produced by some of Europe’s most talented players, the match was instead a sluggish, niggly performance bereft of real quality and, desired mainly on the natural supporter’s part, panache. On the night it was accuracy and speed of thought which won the game. The decision of Giggs to not only take the free kick with the haste of a man destined for the gallows at dawn, but also his match winning maneuver was coated in a layer of unerring precision.
Lille’s reaction to the goal was despicable. Brazen petulance of this nature by coaching staff and players alike is unprecedented behaviour at this level of the game and as Ferguson remarked after final whistle ‘never seen that..a disgrace is what I have seen tonight..thats not football..it is intimidation to the referee…UEFA will come down strongly, you cant tolerate that…’

Replays show the abortively attempted Lille player walk-off was instigated by a Lille coach who after receiving the ball on the touchlines, picked it up, held it tight to his chest then beckoned his players to leave the field…

‘ive got the ball ad nobody is playing anymore’ is what, through studying the replay and employing lip-reading skills that I developed in ‘Nam, I concluded the Lille coach had said during the very public display of French dishonour.

I am sure that Lille will feel very hard done by, especially given the goal they had disallowed. But replays of the incident have convinced me that there was a push, albeit carrying the force of a rat’s fist striking a hippo’s rear, and with definite contact which could well have contributed to Vidic’s dive into the turf prior to Odemwingie heading the ball home, the referee was justified in ruling the goal invalid.

A great result for United. Deserved, perhaps, on endeavour but the nature of victory and Lille’s inability to act gentlemenly when staring defeat in the face, will be the most talked about aspects of this unintriguing anglo-gallic encounter.

MOM: Makoun. A fearless, fierce and highly competent component of the Lille defensive shield. Unlike his team-mates he emerges from this indecorous encounter with his pride intact.

Makoun…The CLeaner.

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