Wednesday, 4 November 2009
Akinfeev passes United audition with flying colours - Man Utd 3 CSKA 3
Well it was an odd night throughout really
There was a ton of 'football tourists' in the stadium. The name given by the Faithful to worldwide fans that manage to get a ticket on these sort of nights. The guys behind us screamed for 'G Nev!'repeatedly (as they seem to think Gary Neville is nicknamed) but didn't know the words to 'Take me home United Road', so it sort of just turned into a random screaming affair rather than a good ol' Manchester singalong. Bizarre really.
That aside, the oddness in the stands was reflected on the pitch. I was interested to see if all the hype about Akinfeev was justified. The Ben Foster nightmares of the last few months have heightened the call for a new keeper when the hardwired battery in Van Der Sars retro body finally fails. Well, the Russian boy didn't disappoint. He was simply stunning.
A number of top class saves in the second half must have left Fergie salivating. At ten million quid for a 22 year old the temptation to land him before the World Cup must be great. But the manager has great faith in Foster. I get the funny feeling that he is still leaning towards the England man as Edwin's future successor...something that will not leave me sleeping well at night!
The game itself was mental. United dominated in virtually every part of the pitch. CSKA looked dangerous from the counter attack in almost the first few minutes but nothing that special. Their first and third goals were a result of some soft defending, and like it or not, Van der Sar should have done better with both, failing to anticipate two shots close to his body and somehow not getting a touch on either. Big fail. The second Russian goal was a sweet move and the impressive Milos Krasic rounded the Dutch keeper and finished with aplomb. Expect to see him plying his trade in the Prem next year.
United's first goal was taken well by Michael Owen. The expectation on him from the fans is greater than on any other player on the pitch when he plays...yes even more than on Rooney. We all have this ideal that every chance that falls to him he should finish...because..because he is Michael Fricking Owen! Its not really a great reason is it? But Ive got great confidence in him. I'm dying for Fergie to start him more. Our second was well taken by Scholsey, who had an indifferent performance in the centre again, but nailed his header into the top corner. And Valencia's goal? Well...a bit of Stretford End luck id say.
The other flash point was the Darren Fletcher 'Im Not Fcuking Ronaldo' moment, when the ref booked him for a dive. It was a blatant penalty, and the manager has called it "the worst decision he has ever seen". Yes, it was that bad. The trip was right in front of us. We didn't even think there was a decision to be made!
Special praise needs to go to Gary Neville..ahem...G Nev! who rolled back the years and seems to be on a diet of some magic renaissance juice, or something at the moment. It was a brilliant right back display, and Glen Johnson should fear greatly for his England first team spot. If Nev can play like this week in week out, he will be on the plane to South Africa, mark my words. I am surprised as anyone to see his performances this season. He is a man of steel and thunder. Bloody hell, can you imagine Becks and Nev playing together again at a World Cup! No one would have bet a penny on that. Obertan also looked useful with his cameo, and Valencia worked hard all night on the wing. On the downside, Nani was once again an absent mess. If he was a cat he surely is on life number nine now.
So the knock outs are but a formality now. I pray for Real Madrid. Bring them to the Theatre please.