My Soccer World

Football: Giggs To The Rescue For Below Par Man Utd

Posted on: November 6, 2008

GLASGOW: A late equaliser from Ryan Giggs denied Celtic a famous victory as Manchester United emerged from Parkhead with a 1-1 draw that virtually ensures the defending champions’ passage to the Champions League knockout stage.

A memorable first-half strike from Scott McDonald had put the Scottish champions on track for another famous victory in front of their own supporters.

United were a shadow of the side that had cruised to a 3-0 victory in last month’s first meeting between the two clubs in group E, but their late pressure finally yielded an equaliser when Giggs finished off a rebound from Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot six minutes from the end.

The evergreen Giggs said that the ball had fallen kindly for him.

“They probably deserved the victory but the ball fell for me and yes perhaps it should have been Ronaldo’s goal but I had the opportunity and I took it, and it fell for me,” said the Welsh wing wizard.

Celtic handler Gordon Strachan was left to reflect on another famous home victory for his side and rejected the criticisms of the previous encounter a fortnight ago when Paul Ince – like Strachan another former United star – had said it was like watching men against boys.

“We are not boys we are men,” said Strachan.

“All I asked of the players was that they show some pride tonight (Wednesday) and they did that in spades.”

The gulf between the two clubs in terms of resources was reflected in starting line-ups born of the ease with which Celtic had been swept aside at Old Trafford.

The proximity of Saturday’s Premier League encounter with Arsenal ensured United’s goalscorers on that night, Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney, both started on the bench while goalkeeper Ben Foster was given the opportunity to make only his second start for the club.

Celtic’s desire to stiffen a midfield that had been overwhelmed at Old Trafford resulted in Shunsuke Nakamura being left on the bench while Irish teenager Cilian Sheridan was drafted in to support Scott McDonald in attack.

The Australia striker, operating as a lone striker, had endured a frustrating evening in Manchester, United’s superiority and Celtic’s cautious tactics ensuring he was denied the slightest sniff of a chance.

Here he had to wait only 13 minutes before some slipshod defending from the trophy holders presented him with the opportunity to give Celtic the lead and he seized it with a finish worthy of the deafening Celtic Park roar it ignited.

Having failed to clear Paul Hartley’s inswinging freekick convincingly, United’s back four compounded their error by ball-watching as the ball was knocked back into the penalty area.

Unmarked to the left of United’s goal, McDonald brought the bouncing ball under control with his chest before producing the deftest of cushioned lobs over Foster and into the opposite corner of the net.

Minutes earlier, one of Cristiano Ronaldo’s trademark, dipping freekicks had dipped within inches of Artur Boruc’s crossbar.

But with the stand-in forward pairing of Carlos Tevez and Giggs failing to make much impression on the home defence, that was as close as United were to come before Nemanja Vidic headed an inviting half-chance over right on the stroke of half-time.

That lack of penetration from the holders ensured Berbatov’s evening off was curtailed at half-time and the Bulgarian quickly made his presence felt.

Having been involved in the build-up that allowed United to win a corner on the left, the Bulgarian was on hand again when Giggs’ delivery was headed goalwards by Vidic but his flick was cleared off the line by Shaun Maloney.

Celtic responded almost immediately through Sheridan, who headed a Hartley corner onto the roof of the net, but Strachan’s thoughts were turning towards preserving the lead, the defensive midfielder Massimo Donati replacing the Irish youngster with 25 minutes left.

United’s pressure, by that stage, was relentless, and it got more intense when Rooney replaced Tevez shortly afterwards.

Boruc produced fine saves to keep out skidding drives from Ronaldo and Rooney before Celtic’s resistance was finally broken with six minutes left when Celtic goalkeeper failed to hold Ronaldo’s shot, gifting Giggs the easiest of finishes.

Berbatov might have clinched all three points in stoppage time but his shot slipped just wide of Boruc’s right-hand post.

Results:

Celtic (SCO) 1 Manchester United (ENG) 1

Aalborg (DEN) 2 Villarreal (ESP) 2

Lyon (FRA) 2 Steaua Bucharest (ROM) 0

Fiorentina (ITA) 1 Bayern Munich (GER) 1

Dynamo Kiev (UKR) 1 FC Porto (POR) 2

Arsenal (ENG) 0 Fenerbahce (TUR) 0

Real Madrid (ESP) 0 Juventus (ITA) 2

BATE Borisov (BLR) 0 Saint Petersburg 2

– AFP/de

Channel News Asia

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