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Rediff.com  » Sports » Images: Man United brush aside Schalke to enter CL final

Images: Man United brush aside Schalke to enter CL final

Last updated on: May 5, 2011 09:12 IST

Anderson brace sinks Schalke

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Manchester United will face Barcelona in the Champions League final later this month after a weakened side thrashed Schalke 4-1 at Old Trafford for an emphatic 6-1 aggregate victory on Wednesday.

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Two second-half goals from Anderson after first-half efforts by Antonio Valencia and Darron Gibson saw United stroll into their third European Cup final in four seasons and book a date with Barca in the May 28 showpiece at Wembley Stadium.

United manager Alex Ferguson said he had a sleepless night worrying about his team selection but his side effortlessly reached the final as he set a personal milestone.


Image: Man United's Anderson celebrates after scoring against Schalke in second leg of Champions League semis at the Old Trafford
Photographs: Reuters
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'I didn't sleep last night thinking about the team selection'

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The Scot has become only the second man to lead his teams into as many as six European finals -- one with Aberdeen and now five with United including four Champions League finals. Italian Giovanni Trapattoni has steered teams to seven European finals.

"I didn't sleep last night thinking about the team selection and woke up about four times." he told ITV Sport.

Ferguson, who eventually made nine changes from the team that beat Schalke 2-0 last week, added: "They did me proud. I've said it many times we should have done better in Europe over the years and I think we're getting closer to that.

"They (Barcelona) are without a doubt the team of the moment. It's a pleasure to watch them play," he added.

Ferguson made the changes with an eye on Sunday's Premier League visit of Chelsea, which is likely to go a long way to deciding the English title with United three points ahead.

Schalke, outclassed and outplayed for long periods, got a consolation through Jose Manuel Jurado after 35 minutes but the game felt more like an exhibition match as United recorded the biggest aggregate win in any Champions League semi-final.


Image: Man United's Alex Ferguson celebrates after winning the Champions League semis with Schalke

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Wembley beckons

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The home crowd began chanting "We're going to Wem-ber-ley" midway through the first half when Gibson's inch-perfect long pass found Valencia who steered the ball past keeper Manuel Neuer and into the bottom left corner after 26 minutes.

The goal seemed to crush any lingering hope for the visitors and five minutes later they failed to deal with another United surge forward and only got the ball as far as Gibson who cracked a shot that slipped through the usually reliable Neuer's hands.

Before the hosts could get too comfortable, though, they lost concentration when Chris Smalling gave a soft ball away in his own half allowing Schalke to mount a rare counter-attack that ended with Jurado's strike high into the net in the 35th.


Image: Antonio Valencia celebrates after scoring against Schalke

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Jurado scored for Schalke

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The Schalke fans celebrated as if they were in the lead, lighting red flares high in the stands behind the goal, but the celebrations turned ugly when some fans clashed with stewards before others unfurled a huge "Ultras" banner.

However, Anderson's double strike after 72 and 76 minutes put the icing on the cake as United set up a repeat of the 2009 final, when Barca beat them 2-0 in Rome.

Three-times winners United won their first European Cup at Wembley in 1968, as did Barcelona in the first of their three triumphs in 1992.

It will be the third European final between the clubs, who also met in the 1991 European Cup Winners' Cup final, which ended in victory for United.


Image: Schalke 04 fans light flares during their Champions League semi-final second leg soccer match against Manchester United

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