Reserves: United 1 Boro 0, Fabio scores!
United Reserves beat Middlesbrough with seconds to spare when Brazilian full-back Fabio slotted home a cool penalty in the 93rd minute at Moss Lane.
A dour game watched by Sir Alex Ferguson and chief executive David Gill seemed destined to finish goalless until Boro centre-back John Johnson clattered into Cameron Stewart as the United substitute gained control of a ball over the top from Matty James.
Johnson was shown the red card to compound his embarrassment but really Fabio's penalty was punishment enough for the visitors who looked to have gained an unlikely draw - it would have been only their second point in eight games had they seen it out. Fabio's goal was his second from the spot in the space of a few weeks - he also netted a pen in February's 2-0 win over Bolton. This time he tucked the ball low into the bottom right-hand corner as Boro keeper Jason Steele moved in the opposite direction.
Fabio was one of four players with senior experience playing for United; the others being Lee Martin, Rodrigo Possebon and Zoran Tosic. Middlesbrough fielded a slightly younger side but edged a drab first half by registering the period’s only shot on target at either end when Nathan Porritt poked the ball at Ron-Robert Zieler in the Reds' goal. The same Boro player was involved in arguably the first half’s finest move in the 8th minute when he flicked into the path of James Grey for a shot that whistled wide of Zieler’s right-hand post. The same upright was struck moments later by Boro’s top scorer Jonathan Franks.
Martin and Tosic came closest to giving the Reds a half-time lead; the former dragging a shot wide on the half-hour mark after Fabio pressed forward to supply the pass, the latter cutting in from the left flank and only just failing to bend the ball inside the far post.
If both coaches had a lot to say at the interval, then Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s words of motivation produced the better response as centre-forward Robbie Brady headed wide from one corner and centre-half Oliver Gill nodded the ball against the bar from another. In between, Martin slalomed his way into Boro’s box before forcing a decent save from Jason Steele. All this action happened within five minutes of the restart, representing a marked improvement on the first half when Steele did not have a save to make.
Sadly this flurry of activity could not be sustained, and much of the second half mirrored the first with chances and excitement at a premium until the 90th minute when Martin threatened again but was beaten to the ball by the alert and courageous Steele.
Thoughts that this would be the last chance proved to be premature and thankfully Fabio kept his head after Johnson lost his for Boro. Ole's boys are back to winning ways following the 0-1 slip-up at Sunderland and can now relish Liverpool away next week, just days before the senior sides clash at Old Trafford.
United: Zieler; De Laet, C Evans, Gill, Fabio; Eikrem (Norwood, 56), James, Possebon, Martin, Tosic; Brady (Stewart, 76). Subs not used: Devlin, Derbyshire, Galbraith
Papers: Ron in tunnel clash
Ron in tunnel in bust-up
Cristiano Ronaldo was involved in a furious half-time tunnel bust-up with Newcastle’s Steven Taylor last night. The Portuguese winger was fuming with the England Under-21 skipper after a clash seconds before the break. Taylor looked lucky to escape a red card, after appearing to hit Ronaldo in the side of the face and leaving the United ace stretched out on the turf. Ronaldo felt he was clobbered by Taylor, who got only a booking from ref Steve Bennett, and let fly with a verbal blast at the Toon’s style. It was claimed he said: “Your style of football is s**t". Taylor hit back and snapped: “Well you are ugly!”
Steve Brenner, The Sun
Meanwhile, Petr Cech has warned United they will need lady luck on their side to retain the title. The Chelsea goalkeeper says fortune will decide who finishes first — despite United’s lead at the top of the Premier League.
The Sun reports that City are ready to make a spectacular £100m summer move for Lionel Messi.
Match Pack: Fulham
Fulham will be looking for FA Cup sixth-round revenge over United on Saturday after their 3-0 league defeat at Old Trafford in February...
Form Guide: Edwin van der Sar's 1,311-minute goalless vigil may have ended on Wednesday, but United came from behind at Newcastle to record an 11th straight win in the league, and have now lost only one of 29 games in all competitions. Fulham were swept aside at Old Trafford two-and-a-half weeks ago and lost at home to Hull in midweek, courtesy of on-loan Reds striker Manucho's late strike. While that was only the second time Roy Hodgson's mid-table side have lost in the league at Craven Cottage this season, they haven't beaten United on home turf since 1964.
Ins and Outs: United's injury situation is looking much brighter than it did a few weeks ago, with only Rafael (ankle) and long-absentees Wes Brown and Owen Hargreaves definitely out of Saturday's game. The Cottagers have a clean bill of health.
Star Man: Andy Johnson. Fulham's top scorer with nine goals this season, including three in the FA Cup. The pacy frontman missed his side's recent defeat at Old Trafford.
What are the odds? United 5/6, Fulham 7/2, Draw 12/5 (www.ManUtd.com/bet).
Rivals Watch: Coventry v Chelsea (Sat 12:30 GMT), Arsenal v Burnley (Sun 13:30 GMT), Everton v Middlesbrough (Sun 16:00 GMT).
Ronaldo "arrogance" attracts foul play - Wenger
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claims Cristiano Ronaldo's "arrogance" makes him a target for bad tackles from opposing defenders.
Hitting out at the rise of rash challenges in the Premier League of late, Wenger singled out the Manchester United star as a player who receives rough treatment, sometimes due to his "provocative" behaviour.
But the Arsenal boss wants to see an end to rough house tactics and has called for players who make bad tackles to get bans of more than 10 matches.
"Every bad tackle that is not punished I feel is not right," Wenger said when asked about Alan Smith's two-footed challenge on Ronaldo during Wednesday night's Premier League match against Newcastle United at St James's Park.
But Wenger added: "With Manchester United I am a bit cautious because sometimes I feel they get too much protection and sometimes they don't get enough. Ronaldo is a specific example of that. Sometimes his arrogance is provocative - and his class as well."
"But when a player is not protected it's not right. When there is a bad tackle you have to be punished and get sent off the pitch."
Wigan Athletic's Lee Cattermole saw red on Wednesday night for a lunge at Scott Parker, while Everton confirmed on Thursday that Victor Anichebe will miss the rest of the season as a result of a Kevin Nolan tackle on January 22.
Wenger wants to see longer bans of up to 10 matches introduced for guilty players, claiming three matches is not enough when the victims can be sidelined for so long.
"They could create a special committee to analyse if three [games' suspension] is enough or not," he said. "I feel in some tackles 10 games is not enough."
"An accident can happen when two people go for the ball but it is very rare. What I see is that guys go into the tackle to hurt the player. There is not sufficient punishment."
Last edited by melvin; 6th March 2009 at 11:12 PM.
Beckham to stay at AC Milan
AC Milan have an agreement in place with Los Angeles Galaxy to keep David Beckham on loan at the Italian club until the end of the Serie A season.
The former England captain, who is contracted to LA, was due to return to Major League Soccer on March 9 but the Rossoneri have been so impressed with his contribution they are keen to keep him at the San Siro.
A deal to sign Beckham on a permanent basis fell through last month after the US club demanded a fee of £12m, but Milan have now agreed a contract to extended the original short-term loan deal until the end of May.
After that, the player, who will then be 34, will return to LA and is expected to use his own cash to activate a buy-out clause in his £4.25m-per-year US contract, leaving him free to finish his playing days in Italy.
Although there has been no official confirmation Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani said on Friday that the deal is only a signature away from going public.
"There is a great probability that Beckham will stay at Milan until June," Galliani told Sky Italia. "I am very optimistic, all that is missing is a signature and we need to iron out a couple of things.
"In any case we are almost there. We are on the right track and the signature could arrive in a few hours today or tomorrow (Saturday) at the very latest."
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti was asked by reporters what he thought of the deal as he left the club's Milanello training pitch on Friday and said: "We are happy, very, very happy."
Beckham, who signed a five-year deal with LA in January 2007, moved to Milan in January to stay fit during the MLS off-season and so maintain his bid for a place in Fabio Capello's England squad.
During Milan's midweek trip to Qatar for a money-spinning friendly with Al Sadd, Beckham said: "My experience in Milan has been incredible."
"These have been two and a half months with one of the biggest clubs in the world, some of the best players and one of the best coaches. I have already said I want to stay in Milan."
On the same trip to the Middle East Galliani told Soccernet: "Ideally Beckham won't be going back on Monday [March 9] to Los Angeles."
"The best thing that could possibly happen is that he stays until the 30th of June. We have to understand the importance that LA Galaxy have a contract with David. We have to honour that."
Under the terms of the expected 'timeshare' agreement Beckham will not have the sort of long break most players in Europe enjoy in the summer, instead having several shorter breaks.
He will have some time off before rejoining Galaxy 17 games into the MLS season in July, and then another break before returning to Milan in November.
He will also benefit from the winter break in Serie A and believes that will make him at least as fresh as any Premier League player when the World Cup comes around.
• Meanwhile, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has backed his former player's decision to remain with Milan.
"It is good for him, there is no question about that because it is the right type of football," said Ferguson.
"I spoke to David when he came for dinner with us in Milan. He was hoping it was going to happen and he wanted it to happen. I have no doubt it is the best thing for him."
FA Cup Quater-Finals Matches
All LIVE! on CH24
Coventry vs Chelsea 8.30pm
Fulham vs Man Utd 1.15am
Arsenal vs Burnley 9.30pm
Everton vs Boro 12am
Last edited by .Hack; 7th March 2009 at 09:07 AM.
Chelsea currently leading Covetry by 1 goal.
Chelsea thru to Semi-Finals of FA Cup with a 2-0 win over Coventry.
1 hour to kick off.