Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Without Ronaldo, Red Devils Held At Home

With qualification already guaranteed Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson made nine changes to the team that sneaked past Sunderland last weekend, with only Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney retaining their places.

Manchester United Held At Home By Aalborg

Cristiano Ronaldo, a spectator due to injury, still managed to hog the spotlight, being presented with his Ballon d’Or ahead of kick off alongside United legends Denis Law and Bobby Charlton.

Thus with Old Trafford in celebratory mood the holders began the game brightly and opened the scoring as early as the third minute.

Rooney dropped deep to head a ball down to Ryan Giggs and the Welshman’s first touch put Carlos Tevez through on goal. With only the goalkeeper to beat the Argentinean found the bottom corner with a fine strike.

Minutes later and Tevez should have had his second of the evening. Anderson found Rooney who squared the ball to his strike partner, but Tevez on his left foot shot wide.

The chances continued to come for a home side enjoying their football with Evans, Tevez and Nani all going close but unable to beat Bogelund in the visitors’ goal.

Yet just after the half hour mark the English champions were made to pay for such profligacy.

A superb free kick into the box found an unmarked Jakobsen running to the near post to flick home a fine header to level the scores.

The goal obviously buoyed the visitors and there was more to come as on the stroke of half-time they took a shock lead.

United gave away possession and allowed Due to run down the left flank and deliver a deep cross to the far post which Curth did well to calmly head back across goal and into the far corner.

An obviously unimpressed Ferguson opted to change things at the interval sending on Paul Scholes and Ji Sung Park as he sought to overturn the half time deficit.

It took the home side just over five minutes to get back on level terms. After Tevez had missed an early opportunity, Rooney made no mistake, racing onto the end of an Anderson through ball before thumping home an excellent finish.

The home side continued to dominate with the returning Gary Neville almost putting them ahead.

A cross-field ball from Rooney saw the full back control the ball inside the area first time with a superb touch before his shot from a tight angle was parried wide by goalkeeper Bogelund.

Minutes later and Rooney almost provided the breakthrough again, his ball into the box flying off the head of Olfers and onto the bar.

However, with five minutes to go Tevez wasted the best chance of all.

Yet again it was Rooney the supplier, his ball finding the Argentinean on the edge of the box, he controlled the ball expertly but took it too wide of the goalkeeper and his shot, when it finally came, flew the wrong side of the post.

Unlike at the weekend, a late winner was not forthcoming for United who had to settle for a draw against a delighted Aalborg.

Yet the result will not disappoint Ferguson too much as, with Celtic defeating Villarreal elsewhere in the group, the point sees the holders finish in top spot, ahead of their Spanish rivals, whilst the Danes head in to the Uefa Cup.

Manchester Utd: Kuszczak, Neville (Rafael, 77), Ferdinand, Evans, O'Shea, Nani, Gibson (Park, 46), Anderson, Giggs (Scholes, 46), Rooney, Tevez.

AaB Aalborg: Zaza, Bogelund, Olfers, Jakobsen, Pedersen (Sorensen, 76), Curth (Caca, 75), Enevoldsen, Augustinussen, Risgaard, Due (Kristensen, 66), Saganowski.


2-2 Manchester United (Rooney, 52)

1-2 Aalborg (Curth, 45)

1-1 Aalborg (Jakobsen 32)

1-0 Manchester United (Tevez, 3)

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