Everton v Manchester United: As it happened

Today’s game comes from Goodison Park, where the focus will be two-fold. How will Everton fans react to David Moyes’ first visit back to the club he managed for over a decade? And can the home-side get back on track in the race for a Champions’s League spot?

Roberto Martinez’ side fell to a 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace in midweek which leaves them a four points behind fourth placed Arsenal, albeit with a game in hand. The Toffees beat United 1-0 at Old Trafford in December, and a win today would give them their first league double over the Manchester side in over 40 years.

United, for all the criticism aimed at them this season, have the best away record in the league. They have lost only four of their 17 games on the road.  They are looking for a fifth successive away win today, which would help them in their bid for European football next season. They lie seventh, six points behind Spurs but with a better goal difference and two games in hand.

Everton will be hoping Romelu Lukaku can come up with a goal or two today. Last time he played a game at home against United, he was playing at the Hawthorns for West Brom on the last day of last season. In Alex Ferguson’s last game in charge, the Belgian international helped himself to a hat-trick in a crazy 5-5 draw. Ferguson’s successor will hope the United defence holds firmer today.

While Moyes did an excellent job with limited resources during his time at Everton, fans on Merseyside have been privy to a prettier style of football this year. The Toffees have not suffered as a result of Moyes leaving, but the work the Scot did during his time at the club shouldn’t escape supporters at Goodison this afternoon.

Team News: 

Everton: Howard (c), Baines, Distin, Stones, Coleman, McCarthy, Barry, Mirallas, Barkley, Naismith, Lukaku. Subs: Robles, Hibbert, McGeady, Deulofeu, Osman, Garbutt, Alcaraz.

Man Utd:  De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Evans, Büttner, Carrick, Fletcher, Nani, Kagawa, Mata, Rooney. Subs: Lindegaard, Giggs, Hernandez, Welbeck, Valencia, Fellaini, Januzaj.

You may have to refresh the page to update content. New posts will appear at the top. Comments on the games can be posted underneath or tweeted to me at @AlanKeane23.

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Full time thoughts: A dominant performance from Everton and they keep the momentum up in their chase for Champions League football. There was less of the intricate passing that has been a key trait of the side this season, but a combination of fast counter attacks and long balls to Lukaku were equally as effective against a lacklustre United.

It was an unhappy return to Goodison Park for David Moyes, and his side simply didn’t do enough to trouble Everton today. There was little imagination on show when it came to trying to find a way past a solid home defence. There is nothing really left for United to play for this season, and their fans will be counting down the days until the transfer window opens and new players can be brought in. It remains to be seen if Moyes will be the man trusted with splashing the cash, however.

93 mins – Substitution. Aiden McGeady gets a few second as he replaces Kevin Mirallas for Everton.

91 mins – Smalling has remained in an advanced position and Wayne Rooney finds him with a perfectly weighted cross from the right. The defender should do better, failing to find the target with a header from close range.

90 mins – 4 minutes added on at the end of the 90.

89 mins – Seamus Coleman gets the seal of approval from former right back Gary Neville. The Sky Sports pundit names the Donegal defender his man of the match. Well deserved.

87 mins – Chance! Rooney gets himself one on one with Tim Howard but the keeper saves well. First real chance of the afternoon for United.

86 mins – Mata gets the ball in space but plays an ill-advised ball to Hernandez behind the Everton defence. He should have realised the Mexican was offside. Lazy play from the Mexican.

81 mins – Mirallas nutmegs Fletcher and wins a free for obstruction. Everton well on top and look increasingly comfortable with the minutes tick away.

80 mins – Coleman again finds space down the right and finds Lukaku on the penalty spot. His shot is blocked away for a corner.

78 mins – Chance! Everton have a numbers advantage as they break from deep. Coleman releases Naismith and his low drive from just outside the box forces a superb save from De Gea who got down quickly to his left.

76 mins – Chance! A cross from the right finds Naismith who has lost  his marker Valencia. The chance is a little difficult as the ball is slightly behind him as he connects but he still should have hit the target.

75 mins – Smalling concedes a corner under pressure which comes to nothing for the home side. However Everton are definitely on top as we reach the last quarter of an hour.

74 mins – Substitution. Last throw of the dice for Moyes as he brings on Welbeck for Kagawa.

71 mins – United have passed the ball almost double the amount of times Everton have this afternoon. 445 to 225. Unusual for a Martinez team to be outpassed at home but they’ve still been more clinical with the possession they’ve had. United still haven’t really created a clear cut chance.

69 mins – Substitution for Everton as Ross Barkley is replaced by Leon Osman. The youngster has put in a good shift at the left of midfield today, although he would more than likely have preferred a more advanced role. It’s all about the collective cause for Everton however, and Osman will contribute solidity in the last twenty minutes or so.

67 mins – Offside called against Mata as he attempts to get on the end of a dinked cross from Kagawa. Howard punches clear in any case.

66 mins – Wonderful powerful run from Ross Barkley as he thunders through the United defence. He’s forced wide however and his shot from a difficult angle fails to trouble De Gea.

64 mins – McCarthy might feel aggrieved after Rooney escapes a caution for the same sort of tackle on the Everton midfielder.

63 mins – Fletcher, in a central position shoots horribly wide after some inventive build up play down the left from Hernandez.

61 mins – Lukaku shoots straight at De Gea after latching onto a through ball.

60 mins –  Substitutions for United. Valencia and Hernandez come on for Evans and Nani. Valencia goes to right back with Chris Smalling joining Phil Jones in United’s central defence.

59 mins – Yellow card for James McCarthy for a sturdy tackle on Mata. The Irish international gets the ball but his trailing leg takes a decent chunk of Mata.

56 mins – Alcaraz rises highest from a Baines corner but can only head straight at De Gea.

52 mins – Baines trips Nani on the edge of the box. Mata’s free kick strikes the wall and Everton clear.

50 mins – Coleman another long run from the Everton defence. He gets inside the box to take a shot but can’t find the target.

49 mins – Smalling gets a yellow card for coming out the better of a 50/50 with Barry.

47 mins – Kagawa stings the hands of Howard with a long range effort. The keeper gathers at the second attempt.

45 mins – First chance of the half for Rooney. The striker finds himself in possession close to the Everton goal but he can’t make enough room to get the shot away.

17:12 – Second half begins. Alcaraz replaces Distin in Everton’s first substitution. No changes yet for United.

Half time thoughts: Everton may not have had the majority of the possession in the first half but they have made the most of the ball when they’ve had it. Seamus Coleman has been a constant threat down the right, with neither Kagawa or Buttner able to keep tabs on him. Kevin Mirallas has worked tirelessly down the right flank for the home side, tracking back on numerous occasions. The home side have created chances too with simple long balls over the top, where Evans and Jones have struggled to deal with Romelu Lukaku.

United have kept the ball well in the middle third, but they just haven’t been able to find a way through the tight Everton defence. Crosses from either side have yielded few positive results, and maybe Wayne Rooney needs to stay closer to goal rather than dropping back into an already crowded midfield.

In the second half as United chase the game, Everton will have more chances to break with the speed of Coleman in particular a key asset. It’s set up to be an unhappy return to Goodison Park for David Moyes.

45 mins – A Rooney corner ricochets off Gareth Barry and into the arms of Howard. That’s the last meaningful action of the half and the teams leave the field.

42 mins – GOAL! Mirallas. Juan Mata takes Baines out of it witha  late tackle. Clattenburg plays advantage as Everton advance with the ball. Coleman has the time to pick out Mirallas with a fine through ball which the winger dispatches low across De Gea into the far corner. Everton fans using the medium of song to question whether David Moyes is viewing the game.

38 mins – The home side were almost in again. They break from the midfield but Mirallas slips at  the edge of the box before they can take full advantage of a 3 v 3 situation.

35 mins – Everton have created 7 chances to United’s one so far. Intricate interplay down the right between Coleman, Naismith and Mirallas almost results in chance number 8 for Lukaku. The Belgian can’t get on the end of Mirallas’ cross.

32 mins – United have had a lot of possession in this first half, but the majority of it has been in the middle of the park. The away side lacking a cutting edge so far.

30 mins – Yellow card for Phil Jones for the handball by the way.

26 mins – PENALTY! Third time lucky for Everton. The home side break and Lukaku lets off a shot from the edge of the box. Phil Jones dives to block and the ball clearly hits his hand. Leighton Baines takes the penalty and drives it straight down the middle to keep his 100% scoring record from the spot this season. 1-0 Everton.

21 mins – Big chance for Everton! Lukaku does extremely well under pressure from two defenders to head a ball into the path of the unmarked Naismith. He had enough time to take a touch but puts his first time shot well over.

18 mins – Another shout for handball but referee Mark Clattenburg having none of it. A snapshot from Naismith hit Johnny Evans on the elbow as he dives to block it but again there was little he could do. No complaints from Everton players in any case.

17 mins – Nice diagonal ball from Rooney finds Smalling at the byline. He manages to pull the ball back across the box, but Howard gathers easily.

15 mins – Shouts from Everton fans for a handball as Chris Smalling tussles with Lukaku in the box. Looked to hit the defenders hand but he didn’t seem to know much about it.

14 mins – Nani, Kagawa and Mata showing some nice passing and movement in tandem early on for Manchester United.

10 mins – Seamus Coleman is the player most likely to make an impact so far. His runs down the right have been Everton’s best outlet in the first ten minutes.

8 mins – A Coleman cross eventually makes its way to Barkley. He blasts his left footed half-volley well over the bar.

7 mins – Fairly even in the opening minutes. Neither side able to make progress beyond the middle third.

2 mins – First rampaging run from Seamus Coleman. The Donegal native glides past Kagawa and Buttner before mis-hitting his cross.

1 min – Chris Smalling is at right back for Manchester United. Phil Jones starts in the centre of defence.

16:10 – And they’re off!

16:08 – Moyes gets booed by a sizeable portion of the home fans as he emerges from the tunnel.

16:07 – Teams are out on the field. Minutes to kick-off.

16:05 – Nani in the Manchester United side today. Moyes must be hoping the Portuguese winger can keep one of the Everton full-backs quiet. Coleman and Baines have ten goals between them this season.

16:00 – After Arsenal’s convincing 3-0 win away at Hull, the onus is now on Everton to get a win and keep up the pressure on the Gunners. Two Podolski goals after Aaron Ramsey’s opener leaves Arsenal four points ahead of Everton with a game more played.

15:45-

15:40 – Marouane Fellaini only makes the bench on his return to Everton, following his £27.5m move to Old Trafford on transfer deadline day last September.

15:35 – 

 

 

Arsene Wenger should leave Arsenal this summer

It’s not something to be said lightly. After all, no current Premier League manager has served for so long or given so much to the game. Yet this summer Arsene Wenger should leave Arsenal.

Arsenal have not won a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup. That same competition represents the club’s only chance of silverware this season. A win after extra time and penalties this evening leaves Arsenal facing either Sheffield United or Hull City in May’s final. However should Arsenal end the agonising wait for an accolade, it must be Wenger’s swansong, not the beginning of a new chapter for him at the club.

The Frenchman may have the final say on whether or not he signs a new contract, and indeed there has been talk of him being handed £100m to spend in the summer transfer window, but the time is right for Arsenal’s longest serving manager to go.

Incredible to say about a club who have consistently qualified for the Champions League, but Arsenal are stagnant. Their seasons have predictable peaks and troughs. This campaign, while they and their fans remained defiantly certain that their excellent pre-Christmas form would carry through to the end, everyone else waited for the implosion.

It wasn’t Schadenfreude on the behalf of  non-Arsenal supporters and analysts, it was just recognition of the Arsenal condition. Consistently inconsistent. The past few seasons have followed the same narrative. A slow start, concern over Champions League qualification only appeased by a strong finish from February to May.

This season however, boosted by the capture of Mezut Ozil and the form of Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal started strongly. They looked like genuine title contenders in the first few months of the campaign, but it just couldn’t last. The usual problems arose. A lack of strikers, poor performances against the other top teams, a lack of leadership when games got tight.

Heavy defeats to others in the title race have derailed Arsenal’s season and left them fighting for a place in the Champions League once more. Whilst shipping five and six goals against Liverpool and Chelsea respectively, what was more alarming for Arsenal fans was their capitulation to Everton last Sunday.

Watching the game at Goodison Park, there were two major talking points. It was striking to see how much Roberto Martinez’ side looked like the Arsenal of old. A team that passes the ball with aplomb and tears opponents apart with the speed of their play. The second thing was just how indecisive Arsene Wenger was when it came to substitutions.

He’s not a manager to make hurried changes, but with Arsenal 2-0 down at half time to the team threatening to put a stop to their incredible Champions League qualification record,  something had to be done. Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman were causing all sorts of problems down the flanks. Santi Cazorla was playing too central, allowing Baines space a player of his class can exploit. On the other side, Romelu Lukaku wasn’t being picked up by either Lukas Podolski or Nacho Monreal. This led directly to Everton’s second goal.

With Aaron Ramsay back in the squad after injury and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also available, the break or just after was the time to bring these players on and give the Everton midfield and defence something to think about. When did Wenger make these changes? With an hour gone and Everton 3-0 up.

Wenger can’t shoulder all the blame for not making changes in time. The players he selected to start the game have to step up and perform. That just didn’t happen and as a result Arsenal were blown away, not for the first time this season. Leaders seem few and far between on the pitch. Tomas Vermaelen is the captain but with a fully fit squad the Belgian would not make the starting XI. Why is a certified starter not handed the arm-band, someone such as Per Mertesacker or even Jack Wilshere? Because there is no one on the team right now who has shown the necessary leadership to be captain.

Wilshere and Ramsay are definitely future captain material, but they are still young and raw and they need a Patrick Vieira like figure to bring their game on to the next level. Paul Scholes may have drawn the wrath of Arsenal fans for his assessment of Wilshere on Sky Sports a few weeks back but he doesn’t seem the type to court publicity for his opinions. He was just giving his honest opinion.  A Jack Wilshere playing to his full potential would not just be good for Arsenal but for England too.

That is where Arsene Wenger has failed most blatantly, and perhaps the main reason the Gunners have not won a trophy in a decade. Wenger has not brought in a leader to replace the likes of Viera, Martin Keown and Tony Adams. Cesc Fabregas may have become that player had he stayed. Wenger has placed an emphasis on talented youngsters and while that project was and remains admirable it is nothing without the grit that a good leader adds to a side.

Ironically, the one player that could have contributed that leadership, albeit on a temporary basis, was Kim Kjallstrom. The Swede came to Arsenal in January, incredibly while nursing an injury that has kept him out until now. His experience may have been exactly what Arsenal needed for the second half of the season, but the decision to take him on injured, even with his parent club paying the wages while he remained out, was ludicrous.

Arsene Wenger’s detractors will point to Gervinho, Andre Santos, Sebastian Squillaci and others as examples of his inadequacy in the transfer market. That doesn’t do the man justice, as he was also responsible for signing Thierry Henry, bought for £11m and one of the bargains of the Premier League era. Nevertheless, the fact that flop Andrei Arshavin was Arsenal’s record transfer signing until Mezut Ozil shows a stubbornness on Wenger’s part to move with the times financially. While he has bought in some excellent players at reasonable fees, with Santi Cazorla and Oxlade-Chamberlain two recent examples, he has yet to adequately replace Cesc Fabregas in the centre of midfield. Bringing in the 30 year old Mikel Arteta in the same transfer window that as Cesc left, with all respect to the former Everton man, was insufficient compensation for the loss of the younger Spaniard.

Manchester United have been criticised this season for their poor performances, and much of the blame has been put on the board and David Moyes for failing in the transfer market last summer. The last minute purchase of Marouane Fellaini at an inflated price has been questioned and rightly so. The Belgian has yet to prove his worth, and that money may have been better spent on a ball-playing central midfielder. But what of Mezut Ozil’s transfer to Arsenal? £42m for the German who, while undoubtedly a spectacular creative force, occupies a role in the team that other players already at the club could have filled.

The acquisition of Ozil brought Arsenal’s spending over the past three years close to £150m. This has been offset of course by the sales of key players Robin Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri for a combined total of around £80m. The loss of this caliber of players certainly impacted on Arsenal’s ability to challenge for trophies, but it must be remembered that Tottenham Hotspur spent over £100m last summer and now look set to change managers for the second time since. Spending lots of money, whether you are a top six club or QPR, leads to expectations from the board and from the fans. Failure to meet those expectations usually proves to be the end for a manager.

David Dein leaving Arsenal in 2007 no doubt hindered Arsene Wenger. As Arsenal’s vice-chairman, he had a big part to play in transfer dealings during first decade of Wenger’s reign. Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Robin Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas… All of these players were bought on Dein’s watch. In the interim, the club has been less of a force in the transfer market.

Thierry Henry was the first big-name player to leave in the aftermath of Dein’s departure. In the seven years since, Samir Nasri, Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas, and Gael Clichy to name but a few have followed suit. Wenger said in the summer of 2011 that if Arsenal sold both Fabregas and Nasri the club could no longer be called ambitious. Both players left in August. Former Arsenal player Niall Quinn said recently that if Wenger was to stay at Arsenal past the end of this season Dein should be reappointed. Given that Dein left due to irreconcilable differences with the rest of the board, his return to Arsenal is unlikely.

Dein’s exit left Wenger without a key ally, and it has shown in transfer dealings in the meantime. With the exception of Ozil, there has been no major financial investment in a player in recent years. What Arsenal fan can honestly say that Arsenal have bought a world class striker since Robin Van Persie came to the club in 2004? Eduardo had the potential before his leg-break, but Chamakh? Gervinho? Even Giroud can’t be considered in the same bracket. Wenger’s supporters may point to constraints put on the manager while Arsenal continue to pay off the Emirates Stadium, but if £42m can be spent on Ozil, then why could Arsenal not secure the quality striker they desperately need? Wenger’s reluctance to buy a proven goal-scorer in January has cost them dear this season, with Nicklas Bendtner the only senior replacement for Giroud.

Wenger cannot bring the club any further. Three losses on the trot and the “Wenger Out” brigade are in full voice. Three wins and they are title challengers, before another loss has Wenger vilified by certain sections again. There is no consistency on the field, and no consistency to some of the support off of it. The average level-headed Arsenal fan, who appreciates how much Wenger has done for the club, must also recognize that the time is approaching for the Frenchman to leave. The average Arsena fan is grateful for the Arsenal legends Wenger brought to the club, for the Invincibles, for the style of play that at times made Arsenal better to watch than Barcelona. But the average Arsenal fan, without setting up Facebook pages on the issue, surely knows that it’s time for a new manager to come in and breathe new life into the team.

Wenger’s battles with Alex Ferguson and later Jose Mourinho were some of the most fascinating in Premier League history.  The trophyless Arsenal narrative would be but a bed-time fairytale for young Spurs fans were it not for goalkeeping errors in the 2006 Champions League final and the 2011 Carling Cup final. Arsene Wenger introduced a style of play to the Premier League that entranced Arsenal fans and neutrals alike, but this summer he must leave before his legacy is tarnished.

Sheffield United and Hull will have other ideas but an FA Cup to end almost a decade of drought would be the perfect goodbye gift from Arsene to Arsenal.

 

 

 

Bayern Munich vs Manchester United as it happened

After Real Madrid and Chelsea secured their places in the Champions League semi-finals last night, there are two more spots up for grabs at the Allianz Arena and the Vicente Calderon tonight.

With the score 1-1 in both games, Bayern Munich host Manchester United while Atletico Madrid welcome Barcelona to the Spanish capital.

This live blog will have regular updates on the Bayern-United game, but I’ll keep you informed of important goings on in Spain too.

Manchester United had concern over Wayne Rooney but he appears to have recovered enough to start the game tonight. Marouane Fellaini and Rafael sat out United’s last training session yesterday and won’t be available. Juan Mata, who put in an excellent performance against Newcastle at the weekend, is cup-tied.

Bayern Munich are without Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez due to suspension tonight. Thiago Alcantara, a former Manchester United target, is still out injured, as is Xherdan Shaqiri.

Team News:

Bayern Munich: Neuer, Dante, Ribéry, Mandzukić, Robben, Boateng, Götze, Lahm (c), Müller, Alaba, Kroos

Subs: Raeder, van Buyten, Rafinha, Pizarro, Weiser, Hojbjerg, Weihrauc

Manchester United: De Gea; Jones, Smalling, Vidic, Evra; Fletcher, Carrick; Valencia, Rooney, Kagawa; Welbeck.

SubsLindegaard, Büttner, Ferdinand, Giggs, Januzaj, Young, Hernandez

You may have to refresh the page to update content. New posts will appear at the top. Comments on the games can be posted underneath or tweeted to me at @AlanKeane23.

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Full time thoughts: Bayern make their third consecutive Champions League semi-final but United wave goodbye to the competition. They won’t be dining at Europe’s top table next year. The first half wasn’t one for the neutral, as both sides failed to carve out many clear-cut chances. The second half started slowly too before an absolutely stunning goal from Patrice Evra sparked the game into life. That goal woke Bayern up and they replied immediately through Mandzukic.

Two more goals killed off the United challenge but in reality besides Evra’s goal the away side offered very little in attack. Wayne Rooney was clearly effected by his toe injury tonight. He had United’s best chance with the scores level but couldn’t direct a shot on target with the goal at his mercy. He looked uncomfortable striking the ball all night.

Bayern advance, but they have much to do to make the finals. They weren’t quite at their best and will face more potent opposition next time out.

90 + 3 mins – The final whistle goes at the Allianz Arena. In Spain too, Atletico Madrid have beaten Barcelona 1-0.

90 mins – Three minutes added. 1999 all over again? Probably not.

87 mins – Great strength shown by Pizarro to get a shot away under pressure from Vidic. He shrugs off the challenge but can only find the arms of De Gea.

86 mins – United players increasingly frustrated as this game nears its conclusion. Evra fouls Robben near the touchline.

83 mins – Substitution for Bayern. Claudio Pizarro on for goalscorer Thomas Muller, who receives a standing ovation.

80 mins – Substitution for United. Januzaj on for Danny Welbeck. The striker will look back with regret on his squandered chance at Old Trafford when he had just Neuer to beat.

No more goals to report in the other quarter final. Atletico are ten minutes away from a famous victory over Barcelona. 1-0 since the 6th minute, 2-1 on aggregate.

78 mins – Mandzukic could have added to United’s woes just now but he couldn’t make contact with an Alaba cross from the left.

75 mins – GOAL BAYERN! 3-1 on the night as Arjen Robben slaloms through the United defence and his attempted shot takes a heavy deflection off Vidic and past the helpless De Gea. That should be that.

73 mins: Bayern with 22 attempts to United’s 4 and 74% possession so far. Substitution for United as Hernandez comes on for Fletcher. Rooney will drop a little deeper. United have just over quarter of an hour to rescue this game.

71 mins – Good tackle from Vidic in the box on Muller. Sixty thousand Bayern fans scream for a penalty but the ref rightly gives a corner.

69 mins – Yellow card for Patrice Evra. The Frenchman brought down Robben as the winger looked to be straight in on goal.

66 mins – GOAL BAYERN! Thomas Muller gets a toe on a whipped cross from Arjen Robben! 2-1 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate. If United score another they will go through, so all is not lost for David Moyes’ men. That was Mullers 5th goal in this season’s Champions League competition.

64 mins – Mandzukic rises highest to head a corner just wide. Rafinha is on for Mario Gotze as Guardiola makes his first substitution. That presumably means Philip Lahm will go to midfield with the sub slotting in at right back. Slightly defensive substitution from Pep there?

61 mins – Wayne Rooney misses what looked like an easy chance! The goal seemingly at his mercy after Welbeck slid the ball across the six yard box, the United striker scuffed the ball wide.

57 mins – GOAL BAYERN! Mandzukic with an immediate response for the home side. A close-range header after a cross from the right hand side. You wait all night for a goal and then two come along at once. Away goals cancelled out, the sides are level and one must score to go through. Game on!

56 mins – GOAL UNITED! Patrice Evra with a screamer into the top right hand corner from 20 yards! Great work by Valencia in the build-up to get a cross in from the right.

54 mins – It’s taken until the 54th minute but Manuel Neuer finally has to make a save. He gets down to his left to save a Kagawa effort from 20 yards. One you’d expect him to save really.

53 mins – Vidic takes one where it hurts. blocking Mandzukic’s shot from the edge of the box.

52 mins – This game really needs a goal to liven things up. Neither side posing much of a threat yet though.

46 mins- Smalling lands awkwardly after corner number two for United early in the half. The young defender is ok.

20:47 – Second half is underway.

Half time thoughts – Of the two sides, Manchester United can claim to have had the better half. The away side have been fairly solid in defence, albeit against a lacklustre Bayern Munich performance. Neither side seem eager to throw caution to wind just yet, which is understandable with so much at stake. However Manchester United need a goal and so the second half should be a more open affair. If United push forward they are liable to be caught on the break by the pace of Ribery and Robben on the Bayern flanks but it’s a risk they have to take if they are to progress to the semi-finals.

45 + 1 mins: Boateng blasts a ball high and wide to end the first half.

45 mins – One minute added at the end of the half.

43 mins – Robben takes on four United players in the box and lets off a shot when he should perhaps have found his teammates in better positions. Smalling blocks for a corner which comes to nothing.

39 mins – Lahm takes Evra out on the edge of the Bayern box, hurting the United full-back but the referee waves play on. Carrick eventually puts the ball out so his team mate can get attention.

37 mins – Kroos has an attempt from the edge of the box which fails to threaten De Gea’s goal.

35 mins – Manchester United comfortable with everything Munich have thrown at them so far. The home side haven’t been at their best as of yet. A bit ponderous in attack.

30 mins – They’ve reached the half hour point in Munich and it’s all very tentative at the moment. Neither side really committing going forward because both fear a counter attack.

27 mins – Yellow card for Vidic for climbing all over Mandzukic.

26 mins – Ribery with a shot from distance after Valencia failed to close him down properly. Fizzed past the near post but De Gea had it covered.

23 mins – Bayern with a lot of possession in the last five minutes…

Whoops! Forgot to mention that Atletico Madrid have taken the lead against Barcelona! 1-0 on the night and 2-1 on aggregate after Koke scored in the 6th minute.

20 mins – Intricate play from Gotze releases Ribery. The Frenchman is flagged outside after he squared the ball to Muller in front of goal.

16 mins – Antonio Valencia has a goal disallowed for Manchester United! Both he and Kagawa were offside as a cross came in from the left and the Ecuadorian finished to no avail.

12 mins – Plenty of crosses early on from Bayern Munich. Not many reaching their target as of yet. Curious to see them deviate from their usual passing game but they do have the imposing figure of Mandzukic up front.

7 mins – Huge chance for United! Rooney gets the ball in space in the Bayern box and all he had to do was slide it left to Kagawa. The Japanese player had the time and space for a shot on goal. Rooney eventually opted for the shot himself which was easily blocked.

6 mins – Rooney instigates United’s first attack with a cross from the left. Dante clears easily.

3 mins – First half chance for Bayern as a Robben cross finds Thomas Muller. He fails to direct his header on target.

1 min – The field opens up for Arjen Robben who brings the ball from the half-way line to the edge of the box before distributing to Ribery. A cross from the Frenchman fails to find Mandzukic.

19:45- The teams are out and we’re underway!

19:40 – Philipp Lahm reverts to right-back tonight for the home side. He’s been playing a lot in midfield under Guardiola this year but with Mario Gotze back in the side and Thomas Muller dropping back into the centre, the captain moves back to defence. He’s been so good in his new midfield role, Roberto Martinez brought Leighton Baines to watch the German play recently. The Everton manager thinks Baines could make the transition to midfield in the years to come.

19:35- Bayern haven’t won in three games, their longest drought since early 2011. Though that could be something to do with the fact they have the Bundesliga wrapped up for a few weeks.

19:30- Guardiola on Sky Sports. Playing down talks of a second successive treble for Bayern, saying the focus is on getting to the Champions League semi-finals. The coach says his side will attack tonight, and that it would be mistake to play for the draw.

19:20-  Gary Neville has been tweeting his thoughts on how United can go through to the semi-finals;

19:15- United need to score tonight, with Bayern taking an away goal from Old Trafford. The omens are good as Bayern have not won their past four home games against English opposition. The first loss in the streak was against Chelsea in the 2012 Champions League final at the Allianz.

19:12 – David Moyes on Sky Sports now. Talking about Bayern’s high back line and how United must exploit it.

19:00- So with 45 minutes until kick-off the teams are in. Shinji Kagawa starts for Manchester United tonight following an impressive display as a half time substitute in the first lef. Wayne Rooney also makes the first XI, having had a pain-killing injection after his toe injury.

Mario Mandzukic starts up front for the home side, the Croatian setting up Bastian Schweinsteiger’s goal at Old Trafford after coming on as a substitute. Mario Gotze begins in midfield instead of the suspended Schweinsteiger after being limited to a substitute appearance last week.

 

Champions League Review: 3 ties balanced but Dortmund doomed

With the first leg of the Champions League quarter finals over with, it’s time to reflect on this week’s performances and look forward to next week’s encounters.

Manchester United v Bayern Munich

On Tuesday night Manchester United entered unfamiliar territory as underdogs at Old Trafford. They were up against a much lauded Bayern Munich side under the management of the much lauded Pep Guardiola.

While United can’t claim to ever really have dominated the game, they did cause problems for Bayern and Danny Welbeck had two great chances. The striker was unlucky to have a goal disallowed early on but he should have done better with a later chance when one-on-one with Manuel Neuer.

United managed to strike first, with a wonderful Nemanja Vidic header off a Rooney corner. Bayern adopt zonal marking when defending set-plays and we’ve seen over the years that this tactic is open to exploitation. The German team further incapacitated themselves by neglecting to put a man on the posts.

Bayern had looked a bit lacklustre early in the second half, but that goal jolted them into action. Eight minutes after United took the lead, substitute Mario Mandzukic nodded down into the path of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the German blasted home on the half-volley. After that it was all Bayern. Antonio Valencia was lucky to escape a second yellow for a heavy challenge on Boateng, and Guardiola was seething when Schweinsteiger was sent off for a less robust challenge in the closing stages of the game.

The goalscorer will miss the return leg, as will Javi Garcia. However Mario Gotze was rested for the first leg and is a capable replacement for Schweinsteiger. Dante returns from suspension and will slot in instead of Garcia. With an away goal in the bag and home advantage for the second leg, it is difficult to see past Bayern for a semi-final berth. However stranger things have happened and if United can put in a strong performance at the Allianz Arena they have a chance.

You can see the two goals from Old Trafford here:

Barcelona v Atletico Madrid

In Tuesday’s other game Barcelona welcomed La Liga title rivals Atletico Madrid to the Camp Nou. This was the fourth meeting of the sides this season and it ended like the previous three, in a draw. Atletico manager Diego Simeone has exceeded expectations this season after the sale of lethal Colombian striker Falcao last summer. His side work hard to press teams high up the pitch and it has had the required effect against perceived bigger teams.

Falcao may have been the main man last season, but Atletico’s other striker Diego Costa has negated the loss in this campaign, scoring goals for fun and looking a threat every time he gets on the ball. He was an injury concern before Tuesday’s game but spearheaded the attack from the start. However he only lasted 28 minutes before having to be substituted with a hamstring concern. His fitness will be crucial if Atletico are to maintain their La Liga challenge.

His replacement on Tuesday night was the Brazilian Diego, who gave Atletico the lead in the 56th minute with an absolute screamer. Behind to the away goal, Barcelona responded quickly. Busquets was denied by Courtois before a sublime Andres Iniesta pass released Neymar for a cool finish in the 71st minute.

The score remained at 1-1 until the end and so Atletico Madrid have the slight advantage going into next week’s game at the Vicente Calderon. If they play their usual brand of high-tempo pressure football they have an excellent chance of advancing to the semi-finals, even without Diego Costa. But on the other hand, Lionel Messi.

All the goals from Tuesday night here:

 

Paris Saint-Germain v Chelsea

Last night saw the clash of two major egos as Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea took on a PSG team spearheaded by Zlatan Ibrahimovich. Both men were respectful before the game, playing down their own team’s chances while praising the ability of their opponents.

Ibrahimovich has been scoring at will all season, however last night he was well marshalled and came off with a hamstring injury in the second half after being ineffective in the main. PSG had taken the lead in the third minute from a Lavezzi half-volley which was a direct result of an uncharacteristically poor headed clearance from John Terry. An Eden Hazard penalty in the 27th minute levelled matters, and it remained that way until half time.

PSG were the more composed side in the second period, and it was further defensive errors which allowed the home side to take a 3-1 lead to Stamford Bridge. With Matuidi running towards the corner flag with the ball on the hour mark, David Luiz opted to barge into the midfielder from behind. From the resulting free, Luiz bundled the ball into his own net after it cleared everyone else. In the third minute of stoppage time Javier Pastore scored a brilliant individual goal, tempered somewhat by the quality of Chelsea’s defending and Cech’s goalkeeping.

After the game Jose Mourinho again did something to his strikers that they themselves seem uncapable of. He attacked. While noting that his defenders had been solid all season and were allowed to make the occasional mistake, he bemoaned his lack of strikers. He had opted to start winger Andre Schurrle as the furthest man forward and as such there was no one to get on the end of threatening balls from creative talents like Hazard, Oscar and Willian.

A two goal deficit is far from insurmountable, particularly at Stamford Bridge. However Mourinho must figure out in the coming days who is most likely to bridge the gap for Chelsea. It’s clear he doesn’t believe his strikers are up to the task.

Here are all the goals from Parc des Princes

 

Real Madrid v Borussia Dortmund

The Santiago Bernebeu is a difficult enough place to come without having five of your first team players missing. Add to that the fact that the 4 goal hero against Madrid in last year’s semi-final Robert Lewandowski was missing througt suspension, and Borussia Dortmund were always going to have a mountain to climb.

Madrid were ruthless from the off, with Gareth Bale poking the ball into the Dortmund net from close range in just the third minute. Isco added a second from the edge of the box in the 27th minute and Ronaldo wrapped the game, and more than likely the tie, up in the 57th minute, showing quick feet to get a shot away from eight yards out.

Out of all the quarter finals, this one looks to be beyond doubt. Home advantage may not help Borussia Dortmund in the second leg. Just ask Schalke, who Madrid demolished 6-1 in Gelsenkirchen at the last 16 stage.

All the goals from Madrid’s victory here:

 

 

Manchester United v Bayern Munich: As it happened

man utd, bayern munich, champions league

United will look to Rooney for inspiration tonight

Welcome to this evening’s Champions League live-blog.

It’s the quarter finals stage of Europe’s premier club competition, and tonight plays host to two cracking games. Manchester United welcome old adversaries Bayern Munich to Old Trafford, while first and second in La Liga meet at the Camp Nou where Barcelona take on Atletico Madrid. This live-blog is for the United-Bayern game, but I’ll keep you up to date with what’s happening in Spain too.

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And so to Old Trafford and the meeting of Manchester United and Bayern Munich. If the home side win tonight it would be a bit of an upset, but United have beaten the odds against Bayern before…

History won’t save United tonight if they don’t perform in all areas of the pitch however. Bayern Munich are the reigning European Champions and boast an embarrassment of riches in midfield. The visitors though will be without Thiago Alcantara and Dante tonight. Alcantara sustained an injury in league action at the weekend, while defender Dante  is suspended.

The team news is in:

Man Utd: De Gea, Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic, Buttner, Valencia, Carrick, Fellaini, Giggs, Rooney, Welbeck. Subs: Lindegaard, Hernandez, Nani, Young, Fletcher, Januzaj, Kagawa.

Bayern: Neuer, Ribery, Martinez, Robben, Rafinha, Boateng, Lahm, Muller, Alaba, Schweinsteiger, Kroos. Subs: Starke, van Buyten, Mandzukić, Shaqiri, Pizarro, Gotze, Hojbjerg

You may have to refresh the page to update content. New posts will appear at the top. Comments on the games can be posted underneath or tweeted to me at @AlanKeane23.

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Full time thoughts: United’s performance will have delighted manager Moyes and the fans. Not so much for the quality but for the commitment the players showed. They were second best in the first half with Bayern dominating the possession and dictating the play but second half they gained more of a foothold. Guardiola may be a bit disappointed with his side for losing some of their intensity in the second half but even with Schweinsteiger and Martinez suspended for the second leg Bayern should have enough to advance to the semi-finals. Ribery and Robben create too many chances for them not to score at the Allianz Arena.

93 mins – Full time comes somewhat bizarrely as Neuer’s attempts to take a goal kick  are hampered by paper being thrown at him by the United fans.

90 mins – 3 minutes added here.

89 mins – RED CARD! Schweinsteiger gets a second yellow for a late challenge on Wayne Rooney. Not the smartest move from the German knowing he was already on a caution. Bayern might feel hard done by after Valencia escaped similar action earlier.

88 mins – Yellow card for Javi Martinez for a cynical tackle on Hernandez, who had spun smartly. He was clear on goal if Martinez hadn’t taken him down. He’s out of the second leg for that caution though.

84 mins – Substitution for United. Hernandez on for Welbeck, who will be ruing his disallowed goal and his other missed chance in the first half.

81 mins – Mandzukic booked after fouling Nemanja Vidic in the air.

79 mins – Bayern haven’t dominated this half quite like they did the first but they’re still creating chances. Robben knocks a ball across the six yard box but Mandzukic isn’t in the wrong place.

78 mins – Incidentally Neymar has levelled for Barcelona at the Nou Camp. 1-1 there but Atletico have the away goal.

77 mins – Robben comes close after taking advantage of confusion near United’s goal. He drags his right-footed shot just wide.

73 mins – Substitutions: Buttner injured so Ashleyon in his place. Gotze on for Kroos. Valencia moves back into the United defence. Fortunate not to be down the tunnel.

72 mins – Valencia a lucky boy. Already on a yellow, he jumps into a challenge with Boateng and catches the German defender. The ref shows leniency.

70 mins – Gotze receiving instructions from Guardiola. He’s on next.

67 mins – An away goal for Bayern and Old Trafford is a little quieter, except for the corner the away fans are in.

66 mins – GOAL! United’s lead lasts just 8 minutes. Rafinho finds sub Mandzukic with a cross and the striker nods down for Bastian Schweinsteiger to thump in on the half volley from close range.

65 mins – Boateng stings De Gea’s hands with a shot from distance. The Spaniard holds on.

62 mins – Substitution. Muller off and leading goalscorer Mario Mandzukic on for Bayern. Guardiola’s side have scored at least one goal in their last 60 matches and it has been two years since they failed to score in an away fixture. An interesting half hour in store.

60 min – Kagawa races in behind the Bayern defence and Neuer has to punch clear. Schweinsteiger booked for a tackle on Carrick. The away side are rattled. Rooney wastes the free-kick.

57 mins – GOAL! A Wayne Rooney corner is directed brilliantly into the bottom left corner by the head of Nemanja Vidic. No-one picked up the captain and no Bayern players were covering the posts either. Game on!

56 mins – Chances both ends now as the game opens up once more. Fellaini should have done more controlling a high ball near the Bayern penalty spot and Schweinsteiger gets a shot off the other end.

53 mins – Muller, Robben and Schweinsteiger combine well to allow the Dutchman a shot at goal. Blocked away. United support is right behind their team and has been since before kick-off. No sign of a plane over Old Trafford tonight.

52 mins – Rooney gets a header on target following good play from Kagawa on the right. The Japanese playmaker has looked bright so far.

51 mins – Neither side dominating the in the early stages of the half. Still 0-0 in the other quarter final at the Camp Nou incidentally where Barcelona are hosting Atletico Madrid.

46 mins – Early chance for Bayern. Rafinha plays a ball through to Schweinsteiger who has crept behind the United defence but he fails to find the targer.

45 mins – We’re underway again.

20:46 -Second half about to begin and substitution for United. Giggs is off, and Kagawa on. Positive change from David Moyes, but it was forced due to a groin injury.

 

Half time thoughts: Bayern dominated that first half, and if their final ball improves they should be able to bag an away goal in the next 45 minutes. However United have had chances of their own, most notably Welbeck’s. They need to find a way to stem the flow of Bayern’s passing in the second half, as they can’t get their foot on the ball as of yet.

Roy Keane pleased with Mancester United’s commitment in the first half, and calls the home side’s problems “nice” ones because the chances Bayern have created in general haven’t been clear-cut.

45 mins – The half time whistle goes to boos from United fans. Not because of their team’s performance but because they thought the ref should have allowed United to take another corner. He’s not obliged to do so and the teams make their way down the tunnel.

44 mins – Valencia’s shot deflected over for a corner after Rooney and Welbeck cause problems at the edge of the box.

39 mins – Big chance! Boateng loses his bearings and allows Welbeck to race onto a through ball from Rooney. The striker tries to chip it over Manuel Neuer instead of drilling it hard and low and the keeper gets a hand to it. Moyes doesn’t look happy.

38 mins – The Old Trafford surface must be slippy. Everyone is losing their footing. Phil Jones more than most.

36 mins – An Alaba cross is heading towards Muller for a tap in but Vidic makes a vital interception.

33 mins – The game is opening up now. Commotion in the United box as Jones and Ribery both slip and the ball is cleared by De Gea. Seconds later, A Rafinha shot hits Buttner on the arm but calls for a penalty are waved away.

31 mins – At the other end Danny Welbeck bounces a shot in front of Manuel Neuer. The German keeper was always behind it though.

30 mins – Robben tests De Gea with a nice curling effort from the edge of the box. The Spaniard is equal to it and palms it to his right for a corner.

28 mins – The only thing saving the home side is the quality of Bayern’s final ball so far. Crosses haven’t reached their targets.

25 mins – United can’t string three passes together. All the play in and around their box. Arjen Robben popping up everywhere.

21 mins – A Vidic slip almost allows Ribery’s cross-field ball to reach Robben, but the Dutch winger mis-controls.

19 mins – United fans cheering any indication of passion from their team. It’s all they’ve got so far, as Bayern are playing keep-ball.

18 mins- Ribery with a speculative shot from distance. Well wide from the Frenchman, who came third in the Ballon d’Or last year.

16 mins- Ribery and Robben have such a good understanding of each other’s game. The two link up down the left to win a corner.

14 mins – United haven’t been out of their own half for the past five minutes. Valencia picks up a yellow card for a tackle on Lahm.

10 mins – A Ribery cross finds Muller in the six yard box but Muller doesn’t connect properly and United clear their lines. Chances for both sides early on.

8 mins – Neuer forced into a hasty clearance under pressure from United’s forwards.

7 mins – Arjen Robben curls a first shot a yard or two wide of De Gea’s right hand post. Nice passing from Bayern in the build-up.

2 mins- Danny Welbeck finds the net for United! But… Bayern get a free out for a high boot. Good work by Rooney and Valencia to set up the chance. That decision could have gone either way really but it’s given United and their fans encouragement early on.

1 min – And we’re off!

19:40 – With nothing left to play for in the Premier League, winning the Champions League is the only way United can take their place among the European elite next season. They’re quoted at odds as high as 6/1 to even beat Bayern tonight. 5 mins to kick-off.

19:35 – Roy Keane on ITV calls it a “big ask” for United tonight.

Lahm isn’t playing in the Bayern defence after all. He’s in the midfield with Rafinha slotting in at right-back.

19:25 – In the build-up to tonight’s game, Utd manager Moyes and veteran midfielder Ryan Giggs were in bullish mood. Moyes predicting that tonight would be the first of many times he will come up against Pep Guardiola, while Giggs had this to say;

“As players we don’t see ourselves as underdogs, we see ourselves as Man Utd playing at home in the Champions League and we can’t wait. These are the games that you want to be involved in as a player and we will go out there and try and win the game.”

19:10 – Injury and suspension have forced David Moyes’ hand too, with Alexander Buttner replacing the suspended Patrice Evra and Phil Jones at right back instead of Rafael. Record signing Juan Mata is ineligible in the Champions League.

19:05 – With Dante suspended, it looks likely that Philipp Lahm will play at  right-back. It’s a position that he’s pretty familiar with… It’s only this season under Pep Guardiola that the Bayern captain has pushed up into the midfield.

19:00 – As I said at the beginning Bayern are spoilt for choice in midfield. One of their stand out performers is Tony Kroos, who David Moyes is rumoured to be interested in buying this summer in an attempt to strenghten United’s centre. The German international has yet to sign a new contract at Bayern, however that’s not to say United will have an easy time acquiring his services.