Goals in quick succession from Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney broke Schalke’s resistance and left United on the brink of a third final in four years.
Manchester United FC can all but smell the Wembley turf after taking a huge step towards a third UEFA Champions League final in four seasons with victory at FC Schalke 04.
United, appearing in their 12th semi-final, completely dominated a Schalke side new to this stage of the competition and got the victory their superiority deserved through strikes from Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney. The winning margin would have been greater but for the brilliance of home goalkeeper Manuel Neuer who made a string of fine saves before United finally broke through with two goals in three minutes midway through the second period, leaving Schalke with a mountain to climb in next Wednesday’s return.
First impressions can be deceptive and so it proved here when Schalke midfielder Alexander Baumjohann forced a save from Edwin van der Sar after 29 seconds. It was in the other direction that the traffic would flow, virtually incessantly, for the rest of the match.
United’s defensive impregnability had been the main feature of their away performances but here it was all about their attack, with Rooney in inspirational form on the ground where he lived the nightmare of a FIFA World Cup red card against Portugal in 2006. The England forward set the tone in the third minute when picking up the ball on the left corner of the box and curling a shot that, via a slight deflection from Atsuto Uchida, was headed for the far corner until Neuer got a fingertip to the ball.
United were looking dangerous every time they went forward. In the 14th minute Javier Hernández was put clear by Park Ji-Sung but failed to beat Neuer, and the Mexican then lashed a shot wide of the far post after getting clear on the right. For United beating the inspired Neuer was proving easier said than done. After throwing out a hand to thwart Giggs’s downward header, the Germany goalkeeper stood tall to foil him again after Rooney had sent the Welshman running through on goal on the stroke of half-time.
The second period brought no respite for the hosts. Within moments of the restart Neuer turned over a Michael Carrick header, then Giggs blazed wide after doing the hard bit by wrongfooting two defenders. The Schalke supporters kept up their noisy backing, though, and their hopes were raised after 52 minutes when Jefferson Farfán’s pace opened up United’s left side and his half-cleared cross fell for José Manuel Jurado, but the Spaniard spurned the chance.
Schalke showed only briefly as an attacking force and United eventually got their goals. The breakthrough arrived after 67 minutes when Rooney ran infield from the left and, holding off Peer Kluge, slipped a pass through to Giggs who put the ball through Neuer’s legs to become the oldest player to score in the competition. Two minutes later it was two as Rooney collected a threaded pass from Hernández and slipped a first-time finish low to Neuer’s right.
Rooney’s new Twitter account revealed he was listening to the Beatles in the build-up to this match. Schalke may have scored five at San Siro but recovering from this hard day’s night at Old Trafford will take some doing.
London is the capital of England and the United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its founding by the Romans, who called it Londinium. London’s ancient core, the City of London, largely retains its square-mile mediaeval boundaries. Since at least the 17th century, the name London has also referred to the metropolis developed around this core. The bulk of this conurbation forms the London region and the Greater London administrative area, governed by the elected Mayor of London and the London Assembly.
London is a leading global city, with strengths in the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development, tourism and transport all contributing to its prominence. It is the world’s largest financial centre alongside New York, has the largest city GDP in Europe and is home to the headquarters of more than 100 of Europe’s 500 largest companies. It has the most international visitors of any city in the world. London Heathrow is theworld’s busiest airport by number of international passengers. London’s 43 universities form the largest concentration of higher education institutions in Europe. In 2012 London will become the first city to host the Summer Olympic Games three times.
London has a diverse range of peoples, cultures and religions, and more than 300 languages are spoken within its boundaries. In July 2007 it had an official population of 7,556,900 within the boundaries of Greater London, making it the most populous municipality in the European Union. The Greater London Urban Area is the second largest in the EU with a population of 8,278,251, while London’s metropolitan area is the largest in the EU with an estimated total population of between 12 million and 14 million.
London contains four World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London; Kew Gardens; the site comprising the Palace of Westminster,Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret’s Church; and the historic settlement of Greenwich (in which the Royal Observatory marks theGreenwich Meridian (0° longitude) and GMT). Other famous landmarks include Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, 30 St Mary Axe (“The Gherkin”), St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and Trafalgar Square. London is home to numerous museums, galleries, libraries, sporting events and other cultural institutions including the British Museum, National Gallery, British Library, Wimbledon and 40 theatres. London’s Chinatown is the largest in Europe. The London Underground network is the oldest underground railway network in the world and the most extensive after the Shanghai Metro.
London is rightly famed for its cultural qualities and when you wander around some of the diverse galleries on offer you’ll see why. From the mainstream to the underground, the dirvesity of shows on offer never fails to impress. Beneath we’ve listed some of galleries where you guaranteed a good show, but the answer probably lies in purchasing a copy of Time Out from a newsagent in the week you intend to go.
City of London is at the heart of the world’s financial markets. It is a unique concentration of international expertise and capital, with a supportive legal and regulatory system, an advanced communications and information technology infrastructure and an unrivalled concentration of professional services. It is set in the midst of a vibrant and culturally diverse capital – one of the most exciting cities on Earth. As part of our commitment to enhancing London’s status as an international financial centre, we offer a range of support for financial and related business services.
Our economic research provides policy-makers with well-focused analysis of the performance trends and needs of the London economy, particularly the City-based financial and business services clusters. To support and promote the City, we work with domestic, EU and international decision makers and businesses to secure the best market, fiscal, regulatory and infrastructural environment in which enterprise and innovation can flourish. We also provide support for small and medium sized businesses coping with the economic downturn.
City Property Advisory Team provides free and confidential services to help organisations locate suitable premises in the Square Mile and City fringes. And our Inward Investment team provides assistance in establishing and growing City businesses. London’s position as the world’s leading centre depends on an ongoing understanding of the forces that affect this industry. Research programme aims to provide accurate, timely and well-focused analysis to policy-makers, both inside and outside the City of London, to help them understand the performance trends and needs of the London economy – particularly the City-based financial and business services clusters.
Copyright 2011 by Wikipedia.org & cityoflondon.gov.uk
Manchester United and David Beckham continue to lead the Forbes lists of the most valuable teams and highest-paid players.
Arsenal are third behind Real Madrid but Barcelona have slipped one place to fifth, trailing behind German champions Bayern Munich in the renowned American magazine’s rankings which take income, profitability and debt levels into consideration.
England midfielder Beckham continues to dominate the list of highest-paid players thanks to recent endorsement deals with Pepsi and Electronic Arts.
His earnings last year were estimated at 40 million US dollars (£24m), ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo (£23m) and Lionel Messi (£19m).
United, meanwhile, are valued at around £1.15billion topping the list for the seventh successive year with the Gunners worth £731million behind Spanish giants Real who are rated at around £911m.
Speculation continues to swirl that the club will be sold in the near future with a Qatari investment group said to be seriously interested, although the owning Glazer family insist they will not sell United, despite recording losses of £104m in the year to June 2010.
Two other Premier League clubs are in the top 10, with champions Chelsea rising from ninth to seventh place replaced by Liverpool who have dropped three slots from sixth as its value collapsed from £500m to £335m in the wake of the enforced sale to John W Henry’s Boston Red Sox ownership group last October in a deal worth £290m.
The Reds missed out on the lucrative Champions League this season which considerably dented their coffers and Kenny Dalglish’s side are unlikely to qualify for next season’s competition.
‘The top soccer teams that can consistently qualify for the big European tournaments are increasing in value in large part because they reaping the benefits of higher broadcasting and sponsorship revenue,’ said Forbes executive editor, Mike Ozania.
In a separate study released Wednesday, Barcelona and Real Madrid were shown to have overtaken the New York Yankees as the best-paid global sports teams.
The review of average first-team pay in 14 of the world’s leading sports leagues showed that was £4.8m at Barcelona and £4.5m at Real Madrid during the 2009-10 season.
Jose Mourinho won the Spanish Cup thanks to a towering extra-time header from Cristiano Ronaldo and then declared: ‘Just keep calling me a trophy-winning coach.’ The Real Madrid boss had been accused by former Barcelona manager Johan Cruyff of being only a ‘titles manager’ and, after winning his first silverware in Spain,he said: ‘A few days ago someone called me “a coach for winning titles and not a coach for playing football”. Well, thanks very much, I like being a coach who wins trophies.’
Mourinho disappeared down the tunnel at the final whistle as his players celebrated the club’s 18th Spanish Cup. ‘The game was over and I went to the dressing room and tried to call my family,’ he said. ‘I rested a bit and let the players enjoy their moment. We were better in the first half and they were better in the second half but we came good at the end.’
The clasico cup final was a gruelling marathon for Madrid, who dominated the first half, lost control of the game in the second, and then won it in the 102nd minute with Ronaldo’s 42nd goal of the season — his first in open play against Barcelona.
The first half was a story of near misses for Ronaldo, played at centre forward and a constant threat with Mesut Ozil supplying the ammunition from midfield. He failed to get contact on to a superb Ozil through-ball and then fired straight at Pinto from the same player’s pass. With the usually faultless Sergi Busquets misplacing passes in midfield, Barca enjoyed none of their usual domination of possession.
An enraged Mourinho left his dug-out to vent his anger when Xabi Alonso took a free-kick short instead of hitting it long to Ronaldo and that summed up the game plan. But though the football was direct it was swift and effective and had Pepe’s header gone in instead of hitting the crossbar at the end of the first half it would given Madrid a deserved lead.
Barcelona were a different side after the break with Messi rejuvenated and Ronaldo looking more isolated. The Argentine’s pass sent Pedro through and the Spain World Cup winner wheeled away to celebrate only for the flag to go up for offside.
Mourinho reacted by replacing the tiring Ozil with Emmanuel Adebayor, who was booked immediately for flattening Javier Mascherano. Casillas then saved brilliantly from Messi, Villa and Iniesta as Madrid hung on. But they had the last chances of normal time with Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria going close and in the first period of extra time they finished the job as Ronaldo finally delivered. In the 90th minute, Pinto denied Angel di Maria with a flying tip over and the final went into extra-time where Ronaldo settled this Clasico.
Mourinho, who claimed his 18th title and has now won a trophy every year since 2003, will hope to get the better of Barca again when they meet in the Champions League semi-final.
Carlo Ancelotti declared Chelsea could complete a sensational late comeback in the Barclays Premier League title race if Manchester United lose two more matches before the end of the season. But the Blues boss admitted his own side also needed to win all five of their remaining games to retain their crown.
Chelsea took a small step towards the most improbable of late surges by beating Birmingham 3-1 at Stamford Bridge to leapfrog ailing Arsenal into second place and close to within six points of United. The leaders are still firm favourites to finish top, but have to play both of their closest challengers in the next three games.
Ancelotti said: ‘To win the title we’ll need less points than last season. ‘We won it with 86 last season. Now, with 80 points, United can win the title. They need 10 points.’ He added: ‘In football, I learned that everything can happen in the game right up to the final whistle.
“You can win the title in the last minute and you can lose the title in the last minute. ‘If we thought that one month ago we’d have a little chance to come back to fight for the title, I think that everyone could have said we were crazy. ‘Now we are happy tonight because we’ve reached second place. We await to see what happens in the next five games.’ However, Ancelotti refused to look too far ahead, saying: ‘Our aim is to try and win every game. After that, we can see our results and our position in the table. ‘Six points at this stage with five games to go will not be easy, but we don’t have to think we can or can’t do this.’ And with the teams still to play each other, boss Ancelotti said: “Everything is open.
One month ago, we thought we had little chance of fighting for the title and if we’d said we could win it, you’d have said we were crazy. “But I have learned that anything can happen in football, right up until the final whistle. “You can win the title in the last minute and you can lose it. “Now we are happy because we are in second place. We wait to see what happens in the last five games. After that, we can say if the season was good or not good.”
Birmingham boss Alex McLeish believes his side need one more win to make certain of avoiding the drop. He said: “We made a shocking start. We did the same last season and gave ourselves a mountain to climb. “I’d say we need another win. We’ll try and get as many points in the last five games as we can.” And the Scot refused to rule out Chelsea’s title hopes. He added: “You just never know, the way this league is this season. There could be further twists but United are in a hell of a good position.”
Something strikingly eccentric about Europe’s historic harbor cities. Perhaps it’s the centuries of trade and exposure to objects and people from afar; maybe there’s something in the water. But whatever it is, Antwerp, a small Belgian city about 40 miles southeast of the North Sea, with expansive docklands along the wide Schelde River, is a place where — amid the postcard-ready quaintness of old Europe — one finds corners of unusual idiosyncrasy and surprise.
It was at one such charming outpost that I recently found myself eating dinner. The space was long and narrow and looked and felt like a children’s fort, with mismatched wooden tables and chairs. Metal shelves filled with books and leafy plants rose against the walls; to the right of the open kitchen there was a sort of bunk-bed-style seating area accessible only by ladder.
In contrast to the slapdash décor, the patrons scattered among the six or so tables were scrupulously dressed in either well-fitting black or artfully clashing colors — all eating the same simple home-cooked two-course meal of salad and white fish alongside artichoke- and dill-spiked rice. Once in a while one of the diners would hop over to another table to visit; almost everyone lingered, conversing animatedly, long after the last course was served.
The unusual meal is known as Villa Vilekulla, a weekly dinner party at Ra, a year-old concept store in whose cafe the dinner was taking place. Inspired by the impish spontaneity of the children’s book character Pippi Longstocking and orchestrated by Hadas Cnaani, a former design student who had recently decided she preferred making food to making fashion, the evening captured the energetic and optimistic experimentalism that is bubbling up in Antwerp.
Not that fashion and style are new to the city. Anchored in creativity by the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, which opened up its fashion school in 1963, Antwerp has long been an incubator of style. But it wasn’t until the 1980s that it made its relevance known, when half a dozen designers including Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Notenand Walter Van Beirendonck — all graduates of the Royal Academy — made their debut to much admiration on the international fashion scene and became known as the Antwerp Six.
What’s happening now is different, though. The Antwerp Six made the Royal Academy a lure for students around the globe, and many of today’s graduates, rather than take their skills and decamp to Paris or New York, are opting to stay in Antwerp, where they are reinterpreting Flemish ideas. Thus a place like Ra, which, when it isn’t hosting dinner parties, is a two-story space filled with avant-garde fashion and art pieces such as elaborate dresses, handspun from raw silk by the Australian designer Narrelle Dore, and an enormous white bust of a gorilla.
Its owners, Anna Kushnerova and Romain Brau, both in their late 20s and former students of the Royal Academy (she is from Siberia; he is from France), said that they saw untapped opportunity in Antwerp that did not exist in other fashion capitals.
“The city is filled with so many interesting people and talent, but there wasn’t one central point or hub bringing everyone together,” Ms. Kushnerova said. Their aim, she said, is for Ra to be “more than a concept shop,” to be a platform for emerging designers and artists.
Ra had come up several times in conversations with European fashion cognoscenti, but it wasn’t the only place in Antwerp I needed to see. Hunting down names and addresses before my visit, I realized that though the place itself is quite small — fewer than half a million people live there — it would still take some legwork to find the most interesting new shops. So I e-mailed Tanguy Ottomer, a person described in several different blogs as someone who, for about $430 an afternoon, could give visitors an insider’s perspective. Part tour guide, part personal shopper, Mr. Ottomer belongs to a new breed of guide popping up in various European cities (see sidebar) who, through personal connections and experience, can introduce clients directly into the center of a city’s fashion scene.
“No one wants to sign up for a traditional tour group and follow an umbrella around anymore,” Mr. Ottomer explained when we met. A dapper 30-year-old wearing a slim-fitting dark gray suit and a Clark Gable-esque mustache, he was easy to spot at our meeting place, the minimalist Italian restaurant inside the trendy store Renaissance.
After giving him my short list of priorities (new concept shops, unique designers and vintage), and doing a quick lap around Renaissance, an all-white temple of high-end insider brands like Rick Owens and If Six Was Nine, we were off.
ANTWERP is small and fairly easy to navigate, so directions to newcomers are given in relation to the city’s center — an intimate mix of well-maintained medieval, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Its two mainstays are the Grote Markt, an expansive historic town square lined with elaborate, perfectly maintained 16th- and 17th-century guild houses, and the Groenplaats, a tree- and cafe-lined square right off the Gothic Antwerp Cathedral.
Beginning in the late ’80s cars were banned on many of the streets in the historic center, so it is a marvelous place to spend an afternoon and be reminded of why the 16th-century Italian merchant and historian Florentijn Lodovico Guicciardini described Antwerp as “the loveliest city in the world.”
The center is also the place from which both of the city’s main shopping thoroughfares extend. The Meir, heading east, is a wide pedestrian boulevard lined with grand patrician mansions out of which global brands like Esprit and Diesel sell their wares. Heading to the south is Nationalestraat. It, and the streets around it, which include the trendy Het Zuid neighborhood, are Antwerp’s answer to SoHo.
To the south we went. As we made our way down the street (which at some point turns into Volkstraat), Mr. Ottomer offered up colorful bits of local history and asides about this and that shop. At some point I realized what was so different about Antwerp: It can look and feel like one of those towns riding along on its picturesque and historic past, but it is actually a place of energized and creative enterprise. And unlike a city like, say, Berlin, where one usually has to brave garbage-can-filled alleyways, unmarked graffiti-covered doors and major attitude in order to find the interesting bars and galleries, Antwerp’s edgy shops and cafes reside behind Old World facades, with very little hipster posing.
(If you’re looking for grit, you might head to the city’s old port area, where the Het Eilandje neighborhood is home to a growing number of new bars and restaurants. It is also the site of the soon-to-be opened Museum aan de Strom, or MAS, an already iconic piece of contemporary architecture that looks like brick Tetris shapes that have fallen from the sky.)
Taking in the various mom-and-pop shops that line the area around Nationalestraat, Mr. Ottomer explained that while much of Antwerp has been gentrified over the last two decades, this area has managed to maintain an authentic feel, with independent butchers and traditional bakeries, as well as upstart design and fashion shops. Entering Leopold de Waelplaats, a grand square upon which the Royal Museum of Fine Arts presides, we passed Ann Demeulemeester’s flagship store — a minimal loftlike interior behind a traditional facade — before arriving at Atelier Assemble, a storefront of happily clashing rolls of vintage patterns and ’50s and ’60s-style dresses made of the same fabrics. Mr. Ottomer introduced me to one of the owners, Jocelyne Van Acker, who explained the concept: “The idea is that someone can come here to the store, pick out a dress style and then choose any fabric they’d like to have the dress made from.”
Next stop was an appointment-only atelier (Mr. Ottomer had called ahead): Cafe Costume, which was started by the descendants of the respected suit-making van Gils dynasty. “We call it Cafe Costume because we offer our clients a menu,” said Bruno van Gils, taking a brief pause from a group of customers. He brought out an example of said menu with a flourish. “You can choose between a fashionable French cut, a sartorial Italian cut or a classical British cut. And then we take you through each detail, from the collar to the buttons and then you can pick the fabric, from a more affordable house wool to a cashmere fabric from Loro Piana.”
I browsed through some of the exquisite fabrics and headed back out toward Nationalestraat, where Mr. Ottomer and I reversed direction and headed north to the eccentric Walter store, headquarters for another Antwerp Six designer, Walter Van Beirendonck, whom Mr. Ottomer described as the godfather of Antwerp fashion.
“He still teaches at the academy and helps promote young talent,” Mr. Ottomer said.
Practically popping with colorful clashing clothing and design objects, the store was recently renovated to half its original size so that the designer could use the rest of his space as an atelier. While we perused the racks, which also included a mix of local designers handpicked by Mr. Van Beirendonck, I noticed that we were being critically appraised by an older woman standing imposingly behind an enormous shiny white Marc Newson-designed doughnut-shaped counter. (“Van Beirendonck’s aunt,” whispered my guide.)
We continued next door to Antwerp’s favorite fashion consignment shop: Labels Inc. The owner, Erna Vandekerckhove, was behind the counter and gave Mr. Ottomer a friendly hug.
“She used to work with Dries from almost the beginning,” Mr. Ottomer said as introduction.
“Yes, that’s true,” Ms. Vandekerckhove said. “I’ve worked in fashion for more than 20 years now. It’s a hard business. That’s why I opened this place nine years ago, to help sell extra stock, give pieces a second life and to make high fashion more accessible to the students. Sometimes the designer items here are the same prices as things you’ll find at H&M and Zara.”
“A lot of the Academy students hang out at Ra,” Mr. Ottomer said, “but they buy their clothes at Labels Inc.”
After a quick stop for coffee at Ra, which was just as appealingly eccentric during the day as it had been the night before, with more light to see the quirky details (like a dwarf-size thatched-roofed cottage on the first floor), we checked out Marcy Michael, a pioneering vintage design store specializing in Pop Art-inspired collectible chairs.
“This was one of the first contemporary shops on Kloosterstraat,” Mr. Ottomer explained, adding that the street is the only one in Antwerp where stores are open on Sundays. He then led me by the Belgium heritage brand Delvaux, where the designer Veronique Branquinho has been recently hired as artistic director, and on to a small home design shop called Magazyn, hidden in a nondescript mall where Dries Van Noten reputedly had his first shop. We made it to our final stop, Graanmarkt 13, about 20 minutes before closing time. It had been opened about a year ago by Ilse Cornelissens and Tim Van Geloven, a couple with no real experience in either fashion or retail. If wandering through the three-story space (the bottom floor belongs to the store’s upscale restaurant) feels like stepping into someone’s home, that’s because it kind of is. The five-story building belongs to the couple; they and their two sons live on the top two floors.
While the white facade of the grand manor house is original, the entire inside of the building was built from scratch, a project that took three years.
“Everything, from the architecture to the kitchen to the fashion, has a clean back-to-basics foundation but is timeless,” said Ms. Cornelissens, who does the fashion buying. For Ms. Cornelissens, timeless means a multicolored faux fur vest from Isabel Marant, fragrances from Maison Francis Kurkdjian, contemporary porcelain from Nymphenburg and light fixtures made from repurposed headlights by the Beirut-based PSLAB.
Youthful modern spirits concealed behind grand historic facades: That seems to explain at least some of the chemistry behind Antwerp’s current spark.
Mr. Ottomer said goodbye just before an early evening meal at the Graanmarkt 13’s restaurant. I was embarrassed to realize that I had assumed he would come along to dinner; I had obviously started to believe that he was a new friend. Luckily I didn’t have to awkwardly hand over cash.
“You can pay me over Paypal,” he said easily as we parted.
The next day, the morning before I left, I went to check out the blocky MAS building and its already open cafe, Storm, on the ground floor. The airy, modern space, lined with blond wood and cubbyhole shelves, was packed with cappuccino-fueled locals. Although the day was a bit foggy, there was a fresh breeze coming in from the Schelde River and the electric feeling that ships were coming in.
When Apple added a front-facing camera to the new iPad, the company gave developers access to it with the hope that they would use it in new and innovative photo apps, or possibly even games.
But Apple probably didn’t see this one coming: a team of researchers at the Grenoble Informatics Laboratory in Grenoble, France, have developed a 3-D style interface for the iPad 2 that makes use of the built-in camera. You can see it in the video above.
The researchers use the camera to track the user’s gaze and then change the image on the tablet’s display to shift its perspective. They call this a “spatially-aware mobile display.”
The technique could be applied to a new type of interactive game, like a first-person shooter where bullets fly in the direction of the player. Developers could also make reading apps, like a digital book or magazine, that is aware of how the iPad is being held, and then change the direction of the typography.
Johnny Lee, who is now working at Google, developed a similar interface in 2007 by hacking a Nintendo Wii to track where a person is standing in relation to a television and then shift the image perspective accordingly.
Manchester United took another big step towards the Treble on Tuesday night as they reached the Champions League semi-finals for the fourth time in five years. Javier Hernandez and Park Ji-Sung gave United a 3-1 aggregate win after substitute Didier Drogba equalised on the night for 10-man Chelsea, who had Ramires sent off in the second half. Defeat means Carlo Ancelotti’s side are likely to finish the season empty-handed and leaves the Italian with his job on the line.
Ancelotti later admitted he may have blundered by starting with £50million striker Fernando Torres, who was substituted at half-time after failing to score for the 11th game. Ferguson, who was taking charge of his 100th European game at Old Trafford, paid tribute to Ryan Giggs who set up both of United’s goals, saying: ‘He’s incredible — a unique person and player. His contribution is big because of the goal he set up in the first game, and the part he played in the goals tonight. To play at 37 requires tremendous sacrifice.’
Drogba, a half-time replacement for Torres, cancelled out Hernandez’s goal after 76 minutes but United were ahead again through Park 21 seconds later. Ferguson added: ‘That was the break we got in the game, to be honest. It was a stupid goal for us to lose and we had to respond quickly. Park’s record in big games is fantastic.
‘We played very well against a very good team. Even with 10 men they had a go and credit to them, but I thought we were the better team on the night.’
Questioned about winning the Treble as United prepare for Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City, Ferguson said: ‘I keep being asked about it but you need luck to do that. Saturday is a massive game.
‘Momentum is a great thing and everybody is desperate to play in every game. They’re desperate to play against City on Saturday.’
United are now set for a likely semi-final meeting with Schalke.
Ancelotti insisted he does not fear for his future following Chelsea’s latest European failure. He said: ‘I’m not concerned. I have to work. I have to try to do my best. It’s not my decision whether I stay or not here. I haven’t spoken with him (Roman Abramovich).’
Asked if it was a mistake to start with Torres rather than Drogba, he added: ‘Maybe. Could be. But I thought a long time to take this decision. I preferred to start with Fernando for this kind of game, with these kind of tactics. Didier played very well in the second half.’
The Little Pea, Javier Hernandez, continues to sprout at an astonishing rate. Ryan Giggs is laughing in the face of his pension book and United can swear by Wayne Rooney once again. This may not be the greatest side ever to be seen at Old Trafford but they are as confident as any of their predecessors and will firmly believe they can land the Treble.
Giggs has seen it all and done it all but the 37-year-old is as enthusiastic as when he burst on the scene at the age of 17. He was the creator of all three goals in this Champions League quarter-final tie, laying on Rooney’s strike at Stamford Bridge and the two here last night for Hernandez and Ji-Sung Park.
Hernandez, 22, is the find of the season and has emerged as one of United’s key men. At £7million, the Little Pea did not even cost big potatoes – unlike Chelsea’s £50m misfit Fernando Torres, who was embarrassingly subbed at half-time. It was the Mexican’s 18th goal of his debut campaign which set United on the road to victory in the 43rd minute. Chelsea midfielder Ramires was sent off for two bookable offences with 20 minutes left but sub Didier Drogba equalised on 77 minutes to give Chelsea hope. Only for United to snuff that out within 21 seconds after play had re-started when the ever- reliable Park netted from 12 yards.
Chelsea’s season is done. All that remains is to get a top-four spot so they can have another go at trying to win the trophy which has once more eluded them. Expect more forensic examination of the tormented Torres along the way. He has now gone 692 minutes without a goal since joining the Blues from Liverpool.
Andy Carroll’s double against Manchester City the previous night would suggest it has all worked out rather well at Anfield. As for Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, can he really survive? He says his job is not under threat but Blues owner Roman Abramovich, watching from the directors’ box, is obsessed by Europe’s biggest club prize and will not take this elimination well. Few would have chosen Torres in the starting line-up but Ancelotti had clearly decided to appease Abramovich by selecting the Spanish striker.
Drogba had good reason to feel aggrieved about that. This game was made for him and his second-half performance showed why he should have got the nod to start. For all that, Chelsea began the stronger as Torres glanced a header wide and laid a ball back for Nicolas Anelka, who smacked an effort past the post. But that was it for Torres – we never saw him again. Remember the days when he used to run rings round Nemanja Vidic? The worry for United was that Rio Ferdinand, so vital to their cause, was limping around at the back having been hurt in a scramble on the edge of the box. And he was still struggling as Florent Malouda fed Frank Lampard in space.
The England midfielder should have scored but his side-footed shot neither had the power or accuracy to beat Edwin van der Sar. An Anelka strike whistled over but Hernandez thought he had eased the tension when he met a cracking curling cross from Rooney to head in. The linesman’s flag curtailed celebrations – it was a marginal offside call. But United hit Chelsea with a sucker-punch two minutes before the break.
Rooney played a great pass out wide over the head of Anelka before Giggs cushioned it back to John O’Shea. The full-back saw Giggs dart in behind the Blues rearguard and picked him out with a defence- splitting ball. Giggs took the pass in his stride, whipped it across the six-yard box for Hernandez to finish. It put United two up on aggregate but Chelsea’s task was still the same in that they needed to score twice to go through.
Drogba had to replace Torres – which Ancelotti recognised at half time. Ramires was dismissed after two fouls on Nani to add to the Blues’ woes. But suddenly Michael Essien picked out Drogba with a raking pass and the Ivory Coast hitman rattled the ball home. Nerves were jangling round Old Trafford – but not for long.
Giggs was again the creator, playing in Park who made no mistake and set up a likely date with German side Schalke. It will be United’s fourth Champions League semi-final in five seasons. Next up, it is the FA Cup and a last-four tie against arch-rivals City at Wembley on Saturday. The mood United are in, you would not want to be a City player or a fan – even with Rooney suspended.
Mark Hughes has warned Chelsea that a Big Red Machine is coming to crush them on their way. The Blues travel to Old Trafford for tomorrow night’s crunch Champions League quarter-final second leg. But Hughes, who played for both Chelsea and Manchester United, believes Alex Ferguson’s side have the bit between their teeth right now and will not let go.
Sparky, now boss at Fulham, said: “You sense there is a real drive and determination to win every game between now and the end of the season.
“When United teams have that mindset, it’s very difficult to overcome them. “They could win everything. They are ticking games off and, when you get to this stage of the season, they have been here, understand what needs to happen and what it takes. “It is a big ask. Sir Alex would say himself it is very difficult to do. But trust me, it is something they will try and achieve. Good luck to them.” Hughes witnessed first hand on Saturday a United team in red-hot form – even without the suspended Wayne Rooney – as they swept aside his Cottagers 2-0, with goals from Dimitar Berbatov and Antonio Valencia.
Now Hughes fears for the club he supported as a boy.
United lead 1-0 in their Champions League quarter-final after last week’s first leg at Stamford Bridge. Hughes believes a similar display in tomorrow’s second leg will be too much for Carlo Ancelotti’s side. Hughes said: “I thought United were excellent on the night at Stamford Bridge. “They contained Chelsea, were asking questions of them, got a great goal and really were very comfortable. They saw the game out without any real pressure.
“Chelsea found it very difficult to sustain any kind of pressure on United and I think that’s by virtue of United’s understanding of what it takes at this time of year. “It was a huge game for them in the Champions League but it just looked like a very easy exercise for them.” Next up for United will be Manchester City next Saturday in a gigantic FA Cup semi-final clash at Wembley. But former Eastlands chief Hughes believes City’s 35-year quest for a trophy is about to extend another year, even with Rooney suspended for that game too.
Hughes said: “Obviously it’s a bonus for City that Rooney is not involved. “But, as we saw, they have people who can come in that have good quality that can affect the outcome of any game they are involved in, regardless of the opposition.
“The one thing you have to do when you go up against United is get a foothold in the game and have something you can protect to make it more difficult for them. “They are an attacking outfit and they will commit players and sometimes you can catch them going the other way – but it’s a big ask for any team to do that.
“City are still a team that is forming so they need to make the next step and they’ll look to try to do that against United. But I wouldn’t back against United these days.” Despite the position United are in – seven points clear at the Premier League summit – people are still questioning the strength of this United team. But Hughes said: “Maybe the individuals have not shone as brightly but maybe the collective is stronger. “They have guys working really hard for each other and when they make changes, the quality of what they can produce doesn’t waver, it doesn’t lower. It’s about managing resources and they do it very well.
“It’s about winning matches and getting trophies on the sideboard again, that’s what this club demands and it is very likely that’s what they are going to do again.”
Ferguson was not totally convinced by Saturday’s performance but it was their sixth straight win after that double loss to Chelsea and Liverpool. The United boss has plotted it perfectly and now believes the momentum is with them. Fergie said: “We’ve six left now and the important thing is we keep the momentum going because it’s amazing how the confidence grows. “We’re not doing a great deal in training, just preparing after difficult games and getting ready for the next one. “We’ve got the squad. Wes Brown’s back, Rafael should be OK for Tuesday, Anderson is back, Valencia is back and that gives us a heck of a boost.” Defender Chris Smalling said: “Any team would love to be in our position. Hopefully we can keep putting in these performances.”