Advantage United in Madrid; fans die in Donetsk

Updated 14 February 2013
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Advantage United in Madrid; fans die in Donetsk

PARIS: Manchester United edged closer to the Champions League quarterfinals with a 1-1 draw at Real Madrid on Wednesday night, a high-profile showdown watched by an estimated 200 million people worldwide.
England striker Danny Welbeck gave Alex Ferguson’s side the lead at the Bernabeu before former Old Trafford star Cristiano Ronaldo levelled later in the first half.
In the night’s other last-16 tie, German champions Borussia Dortmund drew 2-2 at Shakhtar Donetsk in a game overshadowed by a horrifying plane crash at the Ukraine city’s airport, which killed five fans.
“It’s very open still,” said Ferguson. “We have a big job on our hands but it’s within our grasp.
“This is a difficult place to come but the players have dug in and got a good result. We had great chances.” In a match described by Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho as the clash the “whole world was waiting for,” it was the home side who came close early on with United keeper David De Gea, playing in the city of his birth, pushing a Fabio Coentrao drive onto the post.
But it was United who snatched the lead after 20 minutes when Welbeck shrugged off the attentions of Sergio Ramos to head in a Wayne Rooney corner.
Real were level after half an hour with Ronaldo living up the huge pre-match hype by scoring against his former club.
Ronaldo out-jumped Patrice Evra to send a powerful header off an Angel Di Maria left-wing cross past De Gea.
The Portuguese star’s subdued celebrations reflected the warmth with which he still regards United where he spent six seasons.
De Gea, thriving in the city where he made his name with Atletico, was on hand again early in the second period to deny Di Maria before Japan’s Shinji Kagawa made way for veteran Ryan Giggs making his 150th European appearance.
Robin van Persie than saw a shot saved by Diego Lopez with the ball coming back off the crossbar while, moments later, the Dutchman miscued a close range effort which was cleared off the line by Xabi Alonso.
“Everything is very open for second leg,” said Mourinho.
“For them they played very tactically, they play very deep especially in second-half. They were waiting for a set piece to score. Even going there for second leg we can score goals.” Van Persie said that home advantage in the second leg in March does not mean that the tie is over.
“We have a slight advantage but at this kind of level it doesn’t matter if it’s home or away,” he said.
In Donetsk, five fans of the Ukraine team, who had flown in for the match, were killed when their Antonov AN-24 plane, arriving from Odessa, was forced into an emergency landing.
There was a minute’s silence before kick-off at the Donbass Arena.
Dortmund, the 1997 European champions, almost snatched an early lead when Mats Hummels headed against the crossbar from a corner.
But it was Shakhtar who took a 30th-minute lead when a Darijo Srna free-kick evaded the Dortmund defense before beating goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller.
The German champions were level four minutes before the interval when Robert Lewandowski found the target after being set-up by Mario Goetze.
Shakhtar regained the lead after 68 minutes when substitute Douglas Costa scored with a left-foot drive but Dortmund finished on top and Hummels leveled for 2-2 with three minutes left.
“It is important that we are going into the second leg level and a 0-0 would see us through,” said Hummels.
“Certainly there were a few dangerous moments in defense, but against a such an attack-minded team you can never avoid


Why even the #WengerOut brigade should lament Arsene Wenger's exit from Arsenal

Updated 20 April 2018
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Why even the #WengerOut brigade should lament Arsene Wenger's exit from Arsenal

  • The Frenchman revolutionised the game in England across all leagues, not just the Premier League.
  • After initial success he found the going tough in the second half of his reign, but will still go down as an all-time great.

Over the past few seasons it has been fashionable to view Arsene Wenger as some sort of figure of fun — a man living in the past, left behind by the modern game, but too stubborn to realize it.
In time, though, even the most ardent, frothing-at-the-mouth #Wenger Out believer would have to agree that the Frenchman will go down not just as one of the best managers Arsenal have had, but also among the greatest in English club football.
As with any caricature, there is a hint of truth in the picture created, crude as it sometimes is. Yes, Wenger’s past few years at the Emirates have been painful to watch. Yes, he was stubborn when it came to both activity in the transfer market and belief in his methods and tactics. Yes, it is fair to say he leaves the club, on the pitch at least, in a bit of a mess. And, yes, he should have left two or three years ago.
But if there is one thing that any sane fan should remember about Wenger’s 22 years as Arsenal boss, it is this: He was a game-changer, a manager who oversaw not only a revolution of the Gunners, but also of the English game.
As soon as Wenger landed in England in 1996, he banished Arsenal’s Tuesday drinking club and munching of Mars bars — in their place came stretching sessions and broccoli. Hardly profound or radical in today’s game, but this was the era when change in English football invariably meant no pies and pints on a Friday night.
The technical, passing, possession football that is now the norm for any side with ambitions to remain in the Premier League, let alone win it, and the idea that eating vegetables rather than a tub of lard would help player performance, were brought in by Wenger alone.
He won the double in his first full season in charge, signed unheralded foreign talent such as Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Viera — who went on to become world-class players — and created teams that were a joy to watch, culminating with “The Invincibles” of 2003-04, who won the Premier League without losing a match.
The irony is that the one-time revolutionary ended up being viewed as a throwback, a stuck-in-the-mud anachronism; a manager who harked back to a time when playing with the owner’s chequebook was not seen as the only path to success and when paragraphs were favored over 140 characters.
And that perhaps explains why so many Arsenal fans seemingly wanted him gone: Wenger is not of the Twitter generation, of instant opinions for the 24-hour news agenda and of hype over humility. The man who was once seen as the future stuck to principles that were deemed as belonging to the past.
It is clear there is a lot of bad blood at the club — a ridiculous Facebook post by an Arsenal fan claimed Wenger’s announcement he was leaving made it the “greatest day in Arsenal’s history.”
But for all the bluster and nonsense, Wenger’s legacy will be that of “The Invincibles” — one of the greatest club sides of modern times; of beautiful football played at pace and with artistry; of being a decent, yet flawed, man who was never anything but articulate and courteous.
Having been in charge of Arsenal for 22 years, he is undoubtedly the last of a kind, and in the era of trigger-happy owners, short-term fixes and sensationalism over stability, that is something everyone, even the #WengerOut brigade, should lament.