Paul Scholes’ goal in the 14th minute at Old Trafford on Tuesday sent the Reds marching into the UEFA Champions League final for the first time since 1999. The 1-0 victory was all Manchester United needed in their semifinal matchup against Barcelona after drawing 0-0 at the Camp Nou last Wednesday.
Man Utd looked like a completely different team playing at home. They were attacking Barcelona’s defenders, challenging their ball handlers, and winning 50-50 by playing a much more aggressive style than last week.
In the end, they only netted one goal, but their stingy defense, led by Rio Ferdinand, assured that would be all that was needed.
The savior of the game was Paul Scholes, whose shot from long rage whizzed past Víctor Valdés.
Scholes no longer scores like he used to, now playing as a midfielder rather than striker as he did in his younger days. He may be 33, but Scholes played like he was 23, challenging Barcelona’s defense whenever he had the chance in his attacking midfielder role.
Missing Wayne Rooney due to injury and seeing Cristiano Ronaldo contained fairly well by Barcelona’s defense, someone had to step up for the Reds. Scholes may have been an unlikely hero, but at his age he is no stranger to the big stage, so when his opportunity arose, he cashed in.
With the victory, United has ensured an all-English Champions League final for the first time in cup history. Considering Man Utd has been dominating the Premier League, they must feel confident going into the final knowing that they will be facing a familiar foe.
Either Liverpool or Chelsea will be looking to capitalize on Rooney’s absence and make Man U pay when they play on a neutral site in Moscow.
But United’s foe better beware of their secret weapon lurking in the midfield.
It’d be a storybook ending, the red head trouncing when he smells blood and winning the cup for his beloved Reds.