Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Champions League; Manchester United vs Villareal

The first Champions League match of the season at Old Trafford saw Spanish side Villareal pay a return visit, after a 0-0 draw there several seasons ago. It was an enjoyable if uninspiring first half; United having most of the possession and chances and Villareal content to sit back and soak up the pressue.

In the second half, Villareal decided to push forward some more; creating more space for United to push onto, making play more stretched and becoming much more interesting as a result. Manchester United brought Ronaldo on after around 65 minutes, to a very warm Old Trafford welcome - if some people are angry with him after his protracted daliance with Real Madrid, they were out-shouted by those who were pleased he had stayed. Even Andy Gray joined the Ronaldo fan club, going all giddy as he stripped off from his training top into his match shirt.

Either Ronaldo's introduction gave United more confidence, or Villareal decided to give up attacking as a bad job, but United dominated the period Ronaldo was on the pitch. Both sides came close, hitting the post when it would have been easier to score, but despite one of those "kitchen sink" finishes, the match finished goalless, and Villareal probably went away with the point they had came for.

United and their fans can be encouraged by the performance during the last period of the game, when they finally, for the first time this season, looked like the side they are capable of being. Again though, they looked weak up front, and although this may change with Ronaldo's re-appearance in the team, it is dangerous to rely on one player, when a season ending injury is only one mistimed tackle away.

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