United suffer late setback

2009-04-07 22:48

Manchester - Manchester United are in danger of losing their grip on the Champions League after the holders were held to a 2-2 draw by Porto in Tuesday's quarter-final first leg.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side looked to have earned a barely deserved victory when Carlos Tevez stabbed United into the lead with five minutes to play at Old Trafford.

But Porto substitute Mariano equalised four minutes later to give the visitors just reward for an impressive display and leave United almost certainly needing to become the first English side to win at Porto's stadium next week.

Jesualdo Ferreira's side had gone ahead early in the first half through Cristian Rodriguez and could have been further in front before a calamitous mistake from Bruno Alves set up Wayne Rooney's equaliser.

Not for the first time in recent weeks, United looked nervous in defence and short of urgency in attack. Now they face a testing trip to the Dragao Stadium next Wednesday knowing only a victory or an extremely high-scoring draw will keep alive their hopes of retaining the Champions League trophy.

After staging a dramatic late fightback to beat Aston Villa on Sunday, Ferguson had expected the momentum from Federico Macheda's winner to give his players enough adrenaline to ignore their aching limbs as they returned to action 48 hours later.

He couldn't have been more wrong. Although they enjoying a record-breaking run of cleansheets earlier this season, United's defence has sprung a few leaks in recent weeks.

They looked no more secure in the opening minutes. Lisandro Lopez, Porto's Argentine striker, almost took advantage as he sprinted past Jonny Evans and forced Edwin van der Sar into a sprawling save.

Porto attacked United's soft centre again in the fourth minute and this time they were able to punish another sloppy piece of defending.

When Cristiano Ronaldo lost the ball, Lucho Gonzalez crossed towards Rodriguez, but Evans should have cleared easily. Instead he scuffed only as far as Rodriguez, who drove a fine low strike past van der Sar into the far corner.

United had been far too careless in possession but they sparked into life when Ronaldo met John O'Shea's cross with a header that Helton pushed away for a corner.

That hardly amounted to a ceaseless assault however, which made Alves's spectacular implosion in the 15th minute so hard to understand.

Under no pressure at all, the Porto defender passed back to Helton without looking. Alves hadn't noticed Rooney lurking behind him and the United striker gratefully seized the gift before clipping a deft finish past Helton.

Despite that lifeline, there was still no sign that United had found their rhythm.

Porto could have had a second goal if Rodriguez had steered his close-range header either side of van der Sar instead of straight at the Dutch keeper.

While United laboured, Porto looked impressive whenever they went forward and van der Sar was at full stretch to turn over a long-range shot from Raul Meireles.

After watching such a lackluster effort from his players, Ferguson must have been tempted to give them the full 'hairdryer' treatment at half-time.

United responded at last and Rooney produced a superb chip from 30 yards that Helton just managed to tip over. From the resulting corner Vidic headed goalwards but Helton made a brilliant stop to deny the Serbian.

The Portuguese champions kept their nerve and Lisandro's skimming strike needed an alert stop from van der Sar before Aly Cissokho tested the United keeper from long-range.

This was no way for United to celebrate their 100th home game in the European Cup and Ferguson made his last two changes, opting to leave Italian sensation Marcheda on the bench and send on Tevez and Gary Neville instead.

Tevez made an instant impact. In the 85th minute Rooney flicked on Neville's throw and Tevez showed great determination to turn the ball home from close-range.

But Porto refused to accept defeat and staged the kind of dramatic finale that United have made their trademark.

Lisandro swept over an 89th minute cross that O'Shea could only help on to Mariano and the Porto substitute stabbed his shot over van der Sar. It was no more than Porto deserved.


  • Wes - 2009-04-08 06:55

    Well well well... it seems like the Red Devils are not playing as well as they can. I for one do not think they will defend their trophy this year. I reckon it is moving to either Barcelona or Liverpool.

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-08 07:40

    Porto were unlucky not to dump this overrated team.

  • Carlsberg - 2009-04-08 07:50

    What happened boys? Even i didn't think Porto had much of a chance. Maybe they are your bogey team in Europe, (you know, like that English side you can't beat lately...) All jokes, (and stabs) aside though, if Vidic isn't banned then Rio's back is sore and its created a problem at the back...

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-08 08:02

    My lities u/7 team would have put up a better performance........ useless.....

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-08 08:22

    as a united supporter its obvious that our team are playing badly at the moment, at a time of the season where united usually peaks. if thier form continues like this i must admit that we'l find it hard to win anything else this season...even if thats the case...glory glory manutd. and to Anon 7.40am u dont reach the top of the best league in the world and the quarters of the Champions league by being over rated...united are in a rough patch..more like a hole but unlike any other team they manage to grind out results even when they playing poorly...we can talk all we want but nobody knows whats going to happen, the rest of the season should be interesting tho

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-08 08:24


  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-08 08:27

    terrible defensive errors by United now they have create a mountain of a task in the next leg but i'm still confident that they will go through! No english team has beaten Porto at home but theres a first time for everything! Come on United its not lost yet!!! Fred the Red Devil! P.S overated? thats when you dont win anything and you still think that your team is the best in the world!!! Does that remind you of any team in particular??? just a thought.......use it dont use it its left to you!!!

  • katman - 2009-04-08 08:34

    Porto wanted the win more and controlled 80% of the game. If it wasn't for a moment of sheer madness from Alves, Man U would have lost this one comfortably.

  • Magno - 2009-04-08 08:58

    Uniteds defence is worse than POOR !!!!! Scunthorp would score more than once against them :)

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-08 09:00

    I'm a die hard united fan, but it has to be said we are playing crap football and this might be the first signs of the end of the united era, the champs cup is going to Liverpool or Barcelona. May the best team win. Liverpool and Chelsea fans goodlick for tonight.

  • maxie - 2009-04-08 09:02

    Ferguson needs to dump Fletcher and O`Shea as fast as possible. I like Johnny Evans but he had an absolute shocker last night. All credit to Porto really playing top class football. To Annon 7:40: "overrated team", they`ve already won the club world cup, community shield and carling cup AND are no. 1 in the league with the FA Cup and champions League still to go not even mentioning last year!!!!! They`ve had one or two bad games now every idiot finally has one thing to talk about. What have all the others done this year so far???

  • Shaheen - 2009-04-08 09:55

    I'm a passionate United fan (as you all know by now). We really played bad last night. Ronaldo should have been on the right to start with. All the play went down the Porto left hand side, where we had overlaps and Flethcer and O'Shea just couldn't deliver. Gary Neville is no center back (we all know that), but he should have been introduced at half time at the expense of O'Shea (who's usually solid, but had a terrible night). As did Scholes and Carrick. Rooney and Ronaldo tried to string a few plays together but it didn't come off. A stuttering evening at best. Porto came out with purpose from the 1st minute and deserved everything they got. United didn't deserve to win. If it had been AC Milan, Barca or (I hate to admit) Liverpool,. United would've been out of the competition already based on that poor performance. A draw is not the end of the world, but the odds are now stacked against United with injury problems, tired players, and a host of crucial fixtures coming up in the League, FA Cup and the 2nd leg of the Champions League. It's all to play for, but my gut feeling suggests that United will get knocked out in one of the Cups. I said that before the CL quarter finals. Having said all that, we're still competing for (an unlikely and unprecedented) 5 trophies. So let's get behind out team... UNITED! UNITED!! UNITED!!!

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-08 09:59

    The player that should be dumped is Carrick. In my opinion he is overrated as a midfielder. I've never seen him stamp his authority in the middle as is expected from him. He is seldom there to do his defensive duties and his defense splitting passes are few and far between. I like Fletcher. He gets stuck in when he needs to and he does very well in whatever role Fergie gives him on match day. United should cut there losses and give Fletcher/Gibson more games in the role Carrick is supposed to fill.

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-08 10:16

    well said maxie!

  • Nazeem - 2009-04-08 10:29

    Anonymous @9am, you're anything BUT a die hard united fan.. Your comments are the same as saying I love a Mercedes but prefer a BM.... If you guys noted just how much football United has been playing in comparison to EVERYONE else, you would be more inclined to be forgiving of their performance recently... To be playing so much football and turning out so many good results is testament to this teams greatness! Add to that the quality of their Manager, reserve and youth teams, and no one, not Liverpool, Real, Barca, or any other team can come close.. Open your eyes gents, unless of course you're a Liverpool supporter in which case everything which comes out of your mouth with be an insult or derogatory comment against us....

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-08 12:38

    They just have to regain their flow that they had earlier in the season. But Porto made English football look really lazy! The English teams always spend half their time backpassing, while the Portugese teams get the ball and run.

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-08 13:10

    UTD got the pick of the Draw and still could not manage a win at home These are signs of Fergie running scared and out of ideas....The UTD era is over boys maybe you guyz will take the League this time around but next season don't even think about. Your so call claims to be best side in the world....... I don't think so i have seen much Better not only from the way you guyz played last night but from the start of the season

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-08 14:43

    uefa for liverpool

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-08 15:06

    Where's the smile now Sir Alex? Pick of the draw huh? LOL! bring it on man... Porto may not have the best players in the world at the moment but watch this space! Judging by the first leg performace you guys are going to have a mountain to climb at the Dragao :) Underestimation is the mother of all f-ups :) Go PORTOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-08 17:05

    You think United got problems, watch what happens tonite, cos i think Liverpool are also feeling the pressure. Although they hit the post 4 times against fulham, they only managed to score in injury time. Believe me, that game took alot out of them 'cos u could see how desperate they were to win. So, tonite they will need their first team to do it again, as they do not have the depth in their squad for a big game like this, and Benitez should be a very worried man. Arsenal were in the same situation previously burning out the players and eventually ended the season empty handed.

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-09 11:53

    3-1 3-1 3-1 3-1 3-1 3-1 3-1 3-1 bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! take that u scouse scums! thanx Chelsea you have made my week!!! you'll never talk alone!

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