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As expected, United and Barcelona reach semifinals

Latest update : 2008-04-10

Manchester United and FC Barcelona will meet in the semi finals of the Champions League after both claiming 1-0 victories in the return leg of the quarter finals against AS Roma and Schalke 04 respectively.

Manchester United kept alive their dream of a Champions League and Premier League double when they beat AS Roma 1-0 at Old Trafford on Wednesday to become the third English side to qualify for the semi-finals.

 

Carlos Tevez scored the only goal after 70 minutes when he dived in low to head home an Owen Hargreaves cross and secure United's 11th straight home win in European competition.

 

That put the English champions and league leaders 3-0 up on aggregate, a result that secured their place in the last four and maintained their belief that they can win the European Cup for the third time in Moscow in May.

 

Roma, trailing 2-0 from the first leg, had a chance to get back in the tie with a 30th minute penalty for a foul by Wes Brown on Mancini but Daniele de Rossi blasted over the bar.

 

United, into the last four for the second successive season and for the fifth time in the Champions League, will now face Barcelona at the end of the month while Liverpool meet Chelsea in the other all-English semi-final tie.
 

Barcelona placated their discontented fans and set up a mouth-watering Champions League semi-final against Manchester United with a nervy 1-0 win over Schalke 04 at the Nou Camp on Wednesday.

 

Barca, 1-0 up from the first leg of the quarter-final in Gelsenkirchen, were put under severe pressure in the opening half hour but the Schalke storm blew itself out just before halftime and the Catalans were gifted a goal after a series of mishaps in the German defence.

 

Midfielder Yaya Toure scuffed the ball in from close range in the 43rd minute after a Bojan Krkic cross from the right had ballooned off the foot of a defender and was then headed off the line.

 

Barca, the only non-English side in the last four, will host United at the Nou Camp in the first leg of the semi-final on April 23 and visit the Premier League leaders at Old Trafford the following week.

 

Liverpool face Chelsea for the third time in four seasons in the other semi-final.

 

"We are delighted to get to the semi-finals and especially to play against Manchester," club president Joan Laporta told Canal Plus television.

 

"We are really looking forward to it and I'm sure the fans will enjoy it too."

 

The match took place in an atmosphere of high tension following fans' protests over Barca's recent run of poor results and remarks by a high-ranking club official that Barcelona had used injuries to hide the fact that a number of players had been sidelined for indiscipline.

 

It looked as though Barca would be in for a difficult night when Schalke picked up where they had finished off in the first leg and put the home side under heavy pressure as they surged through the home side's ragged midfield.

 

 

LONG-RANGE EFFORT

 

 

Victor Valdes was almost caught out by a long-range effort from Halil Altintop but the Barca keeper managed to beat the striker's bobbling shot at the second attempt.

 

Although Barca struggled to get control of the game, they almost took the lead when Xavi was put in the clear after a neat through ball from Andres Iniesta but the midfielder was denied by a sharp one-handed save by Schalke keeper Manuel Neuer.

 

It was Schalke, though, who looked the more dangerous side in attack, midfielder Jermaine Jones sending a shot skidding just wide of the far post and striker Kevin Kuranyi missing a gilt-edged chance when he failed to get his foot to a cross a metre from the goal.

 

Schalke began to tire in the closing minutes of the half and Barca cashed in almost immediately thanks to a catalogue of mistakes in the German defence.

 

A low cross from Krkic almost ended up in the back of the net when it deflected off centre-back Marcelo Bordon, but Mladen Krstajic headed it clear as far as Toure who stabbed home from close range.

 

The goal steadied Barca and they almost extended their lead at the start of the second half, Iniesta only denied by a brilliant diving save from Neuer.
 

Date created : 2008-04-09

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