Manchester United beat Schalke 4-1 to advance to the Champions League soccer final against Barcelona.
Antonio Valencia and Darron Gibson had first-half goals and Anderson scored twice in the second half last night at Old Trafford as United completed a 6-1 win over the two-game series to reach the final for the third time in four seasons.
United and Barcelona, both three-time winners of Europe’s elite club competition, will meet May 28 at Wembley Stadium in London. Both teams won the title for the first time at Wembley -- United in 1968 and Barcelona in 1992 -- and Barcelona beat United 2-0 win in the 2009 final in Rome.
“Barcelona plays extremely good football and it’s going to be difficult, they showed that in the 2009 final,” United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar told ITV. “We have to make sure we learned our lesson from that one and be better prepared.”
After a 2-0 win in the first leg in Germany, and with a game against Chelsea over the weekend that will help determine the Premier League title, United manager Alex Ferguson rested first-team regulars. Van der Sar and Valencia were the only starters from the opening game, while Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand weren’t even among the substitutes.
“They did me proud,” said Ferguson, whose team last won the European Cup in 2008. “The fact that it’s such an important game does create a bit of doubt in your mind of ‘Am I doing the right thing?’ but I’m glad we were vindicated.”
Neither team did much in attack until United took the lead in the 26th minute. Gibson’s pass sent Valencia through and he slid a shot past goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Gibson increased the lead to 2-0, and 4-0 overall, when Neuer deflected his shot in off the goalpost in the 32nd minute. Schalke’s Jose Manuel Jurado scored three minutes later after a deflected ball fell to him in the area.
Valencia had another chance moments later, which Neuer came off his line to block. Neuer made a one-handed save to deny Nani early in the second half and also stopped Anderson’s attempt.
United defender Chris Smalling was then ruled offside when he scored in the 71st minute. Anderson added the third goal less than a minute later and completed the scoring in the 77th minute as United extended its home unbeaten streak to 30 matches overall.
“I’ve said it many times before that we should have done better in Europe over the years and I think we’re getting closer to that,” said Ferguson, who will coach his fourth final. “This team can win the cup. It’s full of great desire and determination.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at firstname.lastname@example.org.