Manchester United 2-1 Marseille (United win 2-1 on Aggregate)
A double from Javier Hernandez booked Manchester United’s place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, with a 2-1 victory over Didier Deschamps‘ Marseille.
With the tie goalless after the first leg in the Stade Velodrome, Sir Alex Ferguson had wanted his side to start strongly and United started brilliantly, taking a fourth minute lead through Javier Hernandez.
A glorious volleyed pass from Wayne Rooney found Ryan Giggs, whose pass inside was met by the on-rushing Rooney. His low cross-shot with his left foot dragged across the goal and found Hernandez, clearly on-side, and the Mexican, known as ‘Chicarito’, tapped into an unguarded net.
However, within five minutes Didier Deschamps side should have been level. Sloppy play from United saw a simple ball through the defence find Andre-Pierre Gignac, and the French international striker, harmlessly lobbed wide, with only Edwin van der Sar to beat.
With Rooney and Hernandez looking busy up front United were causing the Marseille defence problems, however Hernandez was booked in the 20th minute for Gabriel Heinze, the former United defender. Within a minute the Argentine had fouled the Mexican forward.
Three minutes later a glorious clipped pass from Rooney met the head of Hernandez, but it was a comfortable save for Marseille captain Mandanda.
Yet the highly-rated ‘keeper didn’t cover himself in any glory with an awful kick straight to Nani, but he and Rooney overplayed the situation, allowing Souleymane Diawara to hack clear.
John O’Shea was replaced in the 35th minute after injuring his hamstring but before United could bring on Rafael, Marseille missed a glorious chance to level.
A short corner from Benoit Cheyrou was played to Nigerian left-back Taye Taiwo, and his cross into the six-yard box was met by Diawara, who somehow headed wide of the target.
As the match drew towards half-time, the French champions started to pressure the United goal and a poor header from Chris Smalling was met on the volley by Loic Remy, the pacy French international winger, who shot just over.
The second half began just as open as the first half ended, however neither side was able to create a clear-cut opportunity.
United eventually scored a second goal midway through the second period, and it was Hernandez scoring from close range once more.
A clever through ball from substitute Antonio Valencia found Ryan Giggs down the right, and the Welsh winger slid the ball across for Hernandez to sweep home from close range.
Relief engulfed Old Trafford, but with seven minutes of normal time remaining the French side were handed a lifeline, when a Lucho Gonzalez corner was headed into his own net by Wes Brown.
With the pace of Loic Remy and the skill of Mathieu Valbuena, Marseille looked to press forward to press for an equaliser but found United in a stern mood, with Smalling, Brown and Paul Scholes all happy to clear their lines, whilst Wayne Rooney looked to keep the ball as far from his own goal as possible.
United will unquestionably be pleased to have made the last eight, but they’ll be in no doubt that with sterner tests to come, they’ll need to be far less open defensively, and must play better when in possession.
Nevertheless, for all this United sides faults, another historic treble, reminiscent of 1999, is still on the cards.