If Manchester United had any nerves going into last night’s Champions League semi final in the German city of Gelsenkirchen then they didn’t show them. All the pre-match talk had been about how they could possibly quell Schalke’s attacking instincts. In truth the game was more about the Germans all but surrendering in a losing effort.
United are now almost certain of a place in next month’s Wembley showpiece, which will be their third such appearance in the final in four years. The passion of the home fans did nothing to stem the wave-upon-wave of attacks from the Sir Alex Ferguson’s charges and the 2-0 score was a lot less than they deserved.
It’s difficult to see where Die Knappen will go from here once star goalkeeper Manuel Neuer leaves in the summer after the shot stopper gave a masterclass in how to prevent the ball entering the frame of the goal and hit the net. His first half saves were so good that it wasn’t churlish to think that the ‘keeper could single handedly win the trophy for his side.
As it was Ryan Giggs became the oldest player to ever score a goal in the Champions League and when Wayne Rooney swept the ball home two minutes later that was that. The German hoodoo that Sir Alex’s side has experienced on past occasions gone and, save a miracle at Old Trafford, Schalke hasn’t a chance at progressing to the final.
United, though, march on to a date with either of the two Spanish sides and the chance for Fergie to retire on a high is very real.