Thursday, 24 April 2008

Champions League: Man United gets 0-0 draw at Barcelona in first leg of semis

Champions League: Man United gets 0-0 draw at Barcelona in first leg of semis

BARCELONA, Spain — Cristiano Ronaldo could have put FC Barcelona away early.

Instead, the Manchester United winger sent his third-minute penalty wide, leaving the English champions with a 0-0 draw in front of a crowd of 98,000 at the Camp Nou on Wednesday in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal.
Ronaldo's miss could haunt the two-time champion when its hosts Barcelona in the second leg on Tuesday at Old Trafford.
"I didn't score - no problem," Ronaldo said. "Now I'm going to score in Manchester."
Man United coach Alex Ferguson was hopeful the missed chance wouldn't hurt the two-time champion, which has been eliminated at this stage of the competition in seven of its nine showings.
"I hope not. But the game now starts at Old Trafford," Ferguson said. "It's now down to the deciding goal. The big bonus now is, if we win, we're through. And with the record at Old Trafford, the atmosphere, the fans - we have a good chance."
Barcelona, looking for its second European Cup title in three seasons, controlled play after the penalty, and both Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto'o had chances against the English leaders.
Eto'o put a shot into the side netting in the 53rd after Andres Iniesta had back-heeled Messi's pass to him on the right. Iniesta had a penalty appeal waved off in the 71st.

United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar got his hands up in the 83rd to deny substitute Thierry Henry's hard shot from the left, and the Netherlands goalkeeper stopped Henry's curling free kick from outside the area two minutes from the end.

Ronaldo was United's one consistent threat and could have had another penalty in the 29th but referee Massimo Busacca waved play on. The Portugal winger had intercepted Iniesta's cross-field pass to move into the area but was knocked to the ground by Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez. "I think he touched me, but the referee didn't give a penalty," Ronaldo said. "I don't know why. I don't understand."
Man United has won just once in 17 matches in Spain, and Ferguson was pleased not to add a 10th defeat to that tally.

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