Juninho: Don't rule us out
Brazilian playmaker Juninho has warned United: "do not rule us out" of the Champions League last 16 tie, despite the Reds snatching a crucial late goal in the first leg.
The French champions are in Manchester on Tuesday with the tie tipped slightly in United's favour after Carlos Tevez's goal earned a 1-1 draw in Lyon two weeks ago.
Lyon appeared headed for victory after Karim Benzema's excellent opening strike just before the hour mark. But Juninho says the Reds would be ill-advised to think the second leg is cut and dry.
"We were disappointed not to win after taking the lead," he tells United Review. "But we knew that, along with Inter Milan, Manchester United were the best team in Europe and have many players who can do you damage.
"Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez – what an attacking line-up! Against a team like United, you have to play perfectly. We nearly did it – but not quite. But the Lyon squad is still calm. The pressure is on United to progress to the quarter finals."
Lyon have been used to battling against the odds in this season's Champions League. After a terrible start to their group campaign, they pulled out all the stops to progress to the knockout stages, a lesson Juninho says could serve them well at Old Trafford.
"We are still in this tie," he says defiantly. "Do not rule us out yet. You need technique and strong characters to win silverware and we have those. We have proved a number of times our capacity to achieve in big matches at stadiums in Glasgow, Stuttgart and Paris."
Rio: Not all Euro champs are great
Rio Ferdinand says winning the European Cup would be the "stuff of dreams" but insists it isn't the only criteria when determining a team's greatness.
The Reds defender said: "I think teams who are considered great teams have normally won the European Cup but I don't think it's the be all and end all. Some teams that have won the Champions League are not considered great teams, but if you do well domestically and then go on to win it, then obviously that adds to your being a good side.
"Before I came to this club, I watched many a time when I expected United to win the Champions League but they didn't, and the same thing's happened a couple of times while I've been here. Last season, for example, we had a great opportunity to go on and at least be part of the final but for whatever reason that didn't happen again.
"We'd like to change that. This club has a great history domestically and in Europe but obviously we'd like to be a bit more fruitful in this competition because we've got talent, we've got the numbers at the moment and we've got the desire to do well in it this year.
"When you are a United player you have to want to win every competition you play in or you shouldn't be here. Not many people have the opportunity to win the European Cup, or even play in the final, and we dream like everybody else."
Ferdinand could captain the Reds against Lyon. Club skipper Gary Neville resumed playing for the reserves only last week and Ryan Giggs has missed United's last two matches.
Giggs doubtful for Lyon clash
United could be without their most experienced player for Tuesday's crucial last 16 second leg match against Olympique Lyonnais.
Ryan Giggs is still feeling the effects of a calf injury he sustained in the away leg, when he made his 100th UEFA Champions League appearance against the French league leaders.
Sir Alex Ferguson admitted on Monday afternoon: "The one doubt is Ryan Giggs. The blow he took in the Lyon away game has proved a bit more complicated than we first thought. It’s held him back from training, though he did a bit this morning, and on Saturday morning. He had Sunday off for treatment, so he is a doubt."
United have won the two domestic matches Giggs has missed since the first-leg draw in France - 5-1 at Newcastle and 3-0 at Fulham. But losing Ryan's vast experience for a vital Champions League tie is a concern - especially against a lively Lyon side.
"There is still work to do," conceded Sir Alex. "Lyon have to score and they will try and play attacking football. But we have the bonus of scoring an away goal and we played better in the first leg than was suggested."
If the away goal gives United one advantage, then home support provides another.
"Our home record in European football has been the foundation of our group-stage successes," added Sir Alex. "The atmosphere at Old Trafford helps. There is a big stimulant for the fans to come to European nights."
The Reds have won nine home games in a row in the Champions League - one more against Lyon will equal a record of 10 straight victories held by Juventus.
Sir Alex lauds timely Tevez
All we need is for him to score another winner for us at OT tonite!Cometh the hour, cometh Carlos Tevez... so goes the story of the Argentine striker's first season at United.
The Reds' number 32 has demonstrated a talent for scoring goals at decisive times, as appreciated by his manager Sir Alex Ferguson on the eve of Lyon's visit to Old Trafford.
"I think he's proved that this season," said Sir Alex. "That one in Lyon (1-1) was obviously really important to us, as were his goals at Liverpool (1-0), Tottenham (1-1) and at home to Chelsea right on half-time when we were searching for that first goal (United won 2-0).
"He's proving to be an important player for us, no question. He's now on 15 goals. I think that's a great return in his first season with us so we're delighted with him."
Tevez's 87th minute goal at Lyon's Stade Gerland was his third in the Champions League for United, giving him the same tally in this European campaign as Wayne Rooney. Cristiano Ronaldo leads the way with five.
Tevez's two other goals in the competition were both scored at Old Trafford - he scored the second in the 4-0 drubbing of Dynamo Kyiv and netted United's second-half equaliser against Sporting Lisbon after coming on as substitute in the eventual 2-1 win.
13 more hrs to go at 0345hrs 05 march Singapore time!
At least a 2 goals win!
OT atmosphere can be daunting to opponents.
Wish I can be there with my Canon
As long as Lyon don't score....we will win....all the best for MU defence
Man U won their game thanks to that man Ronaldo
We dominated the whole match and only to squeeze in 1 goal why SIR Alex will tell u so pls read on! Haizzz........
Sir Alex left frustrated
Sir Alex Ferguson was disappointed that his side did not take advantage of second-half chances to kill off the tie against Lyon, despite being pleased at reaching the last eight.
Cristiano Ronaldo's 30th goal in 30 games was enough to send the Reds through 2-1 on aggregate. But Sir Alex feels it should not have been such a tight and tense finish to the match.
"We should have made more of the chances and the possession we had in the second half," he told ITV Sport.
"We made it difficult for ourselves. But we're into the next round and that was, of course, the object of the exercise.
"Defensively we did very well. I don't think Lyon really had any chances in the game. That is a plus for us."
Ronaldo's fantastic goalscoring record was one of the most pleasing aspects of the victory, which sees United in the last eight draw on Friday 14 March.
"It's a fantastic record," added the boss. "For a wide player to do that is incredible. He drifts into the middle at times, as he did tonight. He took the goal very well. We're very pleased, it's a great contribution."
The game also saw another impressive feat - a tenth straight home win in the Champions League.
"It's a marvellous record, and I think it equals a record held by Juventus," said the boss. "The supporters have a lot to do with that. They were fantastic again tonight."
Report: United 1 Lyon 0
United may not have been at their flamboyant best, nor even their most devastatingly ruthless, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal three minutes from half time was enough to see the Reds through to the Champions League quarter finals.
Ronaldo's 30th of the season gave the Reds a tenth straight Champions League win at Old Trafford. Lyon, solid and tactically tight but, to their detriment, unadventurous, set the tone for this game. But United broke the mould – if only once – in a game of few chances.
It’s always difficult to second-guess Sir Alex’s team selection, especially with the multitude of options available to him. But the Reds boss still managed to spring a surprise by picking a side that did not contain three of his most experienced outfield players. Paul Scholes and Owen Hargreaves both took up places on the bench, while a calf injury ruled Ryan Giggs out.
At the start of the season, it might have been difficult to picture a midfield trio of Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick and Anderson playing in such a critical last 16 second leg tie. But, that in itself is a signal of how strong United’s squad is.
Crucially, no player in Sir Alex’s front six had played the full 90 minutes against Fulham on Saturday. It’s a freshness that the United boss has sought in recent weeks. The Reds started brightly enough in the opening minutes. With Sir Alex opting again for a 4-5-1 formation, Ronaldo and Nani pressed forward, Rooney worked tirelessly, while Anderson pushed ahead of Fletcher and Carrick.
Karim Benzema again looked dangerous when given space, and Juninho had a few early free-kicks to test United’s rearguard. But the Reds, marshalled by Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, looked solid. More and more the game was played out tactically; Lyon content not to concede, looking for a breakaway; United probing for a way through but not going full pelt with a valuable away goal in their armoury. It was less the clichéd chess match, more who blinked first.
Fortunately for United, it was Lyon. The French side failed to clear Anderson’s shot on 42 minutes, and Ronaldo’s delicate touches eight yards out drew him clear of Francois Clerc, and his shot sneaked inside Gregory Coupet’s near post.
Lyon’s game-plan changed very little in the second half, keeping it tight and hoping to snatch a goal on the counter. United chose a similar tactic, hoping to draw Lyon out. After 65 minutes Nani had a shot that arrowed narrowly over, but other than that United were quiet in front of goal until the final 15 minutes. The introduction of Carlos Tevez, United's scorer in the first leg, in place of Anderson may have seemed a bold attacking move. But he was instructed to drop deep and keep possession, providing an outlet on the break.
United, though in control, were not home and dry. Substitute Kader Keita found space in the Reds’ penalty area and struck the post on 74 minutes. But it was a rare breakthrough. The Reds weren’t without chances to put the game out of reach. Rooney latched onto Hatem Ben Arfa’s mystifying back-pass, but he couldn’t beat Coupet. Then Nani burst down the right channel and elected to cross the ball when he should have shot.
With ten minutes remaining, Lyon boss Alain Perrin brought on Fred and went to a more attacking 4-4-2 formation, but in the end their own negativity had worked against them and time ran out. For United this may not have been a resounding victory, but against well-organised and tactically stubborn opponents, it was a professional job well done.
Manchester United: Van der Sar; Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Ronaldo (Hargreaves 90), Fletcher, Carrick, Anderson (Tevez 70), Nani; Rooney.
Subs not used: Kuszczak, Saha, Park, Scholes, O'Shea.
Booked: Evra, Nani
Olympique Lyonnais: Coupet; Clerc, Squillaci, Cris, Grosso; Govou (Keita 68), Juninho Toulalan, Kallstrom (Fred 79), Ben Arfa; Benzema.
Subs not used: Vercoutre, Bodmer, Delgado, Mounier, Boumsong.
Booked: Grosso, Squillaci
Last edited by melvin; 5th March 2008 at 11:34 AM.
It was bad, performance was really below par. In midfield, attack, passes went stray and back to Lyon players. Luckly defence was good. Ronaldo had a bad game but still managed a goal, he is really something.
Heng, Arsenal managed a win. They played really well and should be 2 nil before 80 mins. If they lost, defending the title will be harder for us.
Didn't catch the match...
But what matters most is that the Red Devils win...
A win is still a win...