Unitedís Treble Chance
Manchester United’s hopes of emulating their 1999 treble of EPL, Champions League and FA Cup triumphs are very much alive after they overcame Chelsea in the Champions League quarter-finals and maintained a seven-point EPL lead over nearest challengers Arsenal.
Former United star Mark Hughes suggested: “they could win everything” after his Fulham side lost 2-0 at Old Trafford in the EPL last Saturday.
The effects of ill-discipline continue to dog their efforts, however, with star striker Wayne Rooney suspended for this Saturday evening’s FA Cup semi-final meeting with big-spending Manchester City at Wembley.
United beat Chelsea home and away in clinching a 3-1 aggregate victory over the reigning EPL champions, who were United’s opponents when they last won the Champions League, in 2008.
Veteran midfielder Ryan Giggs supplied the final pass for each of United’s goals in the tie.
Rooney scored the only goal of the away first-leg, while Javier Hernandez and Park Ji-Sung netted at Old Trafford, Park’s goal arriving 51 seconds after Chelsea had equalised on the night.
Manager Alex Ferguson hailed “some fantastic performances” from his side, adding: “We played very, very well against a very, very good team.” United face Germany’s Schalke 04 in the semi-finals.
There was an injury scare for United as centre-back Rio Ferdinand, only recently returned from a groin injury, limped through much of the first half. But Ferguson said after the match that the injury “was only a knock, there’s no muscle damage.”
Ferdinand is expected to be fit for the FA Cup semi-final. But Rooney misses the match as he completes a two-match suspension.
He was banned for swearing directly into a TV camera after completing a hat-trick in United’s thrilling come-from-behind 4-2 EPL victory at struggling West Ham.
Rooney’s appeal against the ban failed and he said: “I am gutted to miss two matches,” adding: “The ban doesn’t seem right. Unlike others, I apologised immediately. Yet I am the only person banned.”
Subsequently, however, he admitted: “It was wrong of me. I didn’t realise what I’d done.”
United were 2-0 down at Upton Park with 25 minutes remaining, before Rooney’s hat-trick and Hernandez’s late strike sealed victory.
And last Saturday, first-half goals from top scorer Dimitar Berbatov and Antonio Valencia completed a routine victory over mid-table Fulham.
Meanwhile, United host Italian giants Juventus on May 24th in a testimonial game for long-serving defender Gary Neville, who retired in February.
Tags: Manchester United, Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Alex Ferguson, FA Cup, Gary Neville