Two early goals dictated proceedings and ultimately sealed Arsenal’s fate as a Ronaldo inspired Manchester United made light work of the Gunners to progress through to the final.
Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United
Ronaldo 11, 61
van Persie (pen) 76
The cruel twist of fate improbably reared it’s ugly head twice last night at the Emirates and sandwiched in between that was a thunderbolt from Crisitano Ronaldo.
Poor Kieran Gibbs must wanted the Emirates ground to open up and gobble him inside but instead his slip presented Park Ji-Sung to draw first blood to United. Lightning had to strike thrice for Arsenal but if that seemed unlikely, Ronaldo striking twice did not. His 35 yard free kick was too quick for Almunia, who could have done better but to be fair on the ‘keeper it was a height which his was neither diving up or down from his crouching position.
A swift counter attack made it three as Arsenal threw everything they had at the game and a move which started with a Ronaldo flick, ended with a shot by the same man. The final twist in a game which was spectacularly petering out saw honest Joe, Darren Fletcher suspended for the final after bringing down Cesc Fabregas in the box. The common consensus seems to be that a touch on the ball is enough to not warrant a foul but the Scot’s follow through tangled the Arsenal skipper’s legs and if Fabregas had stayed up will surely have turned and finished anyway. Van Persie converted the resulting penalty.
The match was dictated by the two early goals and with that, United looked to sit back and attack Arsenal on the counter through the gaps they would have invariably left. Walcott was once again squeezed out of the game by Evra, Rooney and one of the central midfield trio and with Walcott’s departure, Ferguson was able to take both men off knowing they had done a good job. The flat central midfield trio with Carrick in the middle were able to assist out wide if needed and did so without much fuss.
The Gunners did start with a high tempo and tried to force the issue but had to play with much accuracy as any move that was to break down would have surely presented United with a counter attack. The 4-5-1 with Van Persie out wide quickly turned to a 4-4-1-1 but with the opposition defending so deep, Arsenal couldn’t find enough space to break them down. They were not able to find their fluency against the sea of blue in front of them but how great was the gulf in class? Counter-attack is obviously a viable tactic in the modern game but with the way United were set-up surely signals Arsenal’s strengths as much as their weaknesses.
Two semi-finals is not bad supposedly for a bunch of kids and although the dream has ended for another year, if this team sticks together honours will soon come their way.
Man of the Match: Cristiano Ronaldo– Two great goals and although it was the midfield who allowed him to play, Ronaldo’s pace and power was a constant menace to Arsenal’s back line.
Arsenal:Almunia (6), Sagna (6), Toure (6), Djourou (6), Gibbs (6) (Eboue 45), Walcott (4) (Bendtner 63), Fabregas (6), Song (6), Nasri (7), Van Persie (7) (Vela 79), Adebayor (6).
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Silvestre, Diaby, Denilson.
Booked:Nasri, Adebayor, Eboue.
Goals:Van Persie 76 pen.
Man Utd:Van der Sar, O’Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra (Rafael Da Silva 65), Fletcher, Carrick, Anderson (Giggs 63), Park, Ronaldo, Rooney (Berbatov 66).
Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Evans, Scholes, Tevez.
Sent Off: Fletcher (75).
Goals:Park 8, Ronaldo 11, 61.
Ref:Roberto Rosetti (Italy).
|Arsenal||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|0||1st Half Goals||2|
|5||Shots on Target||9|
|4||Shots off Target||3|
|103,388||Distance Covered (metres)||101,149|