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Posted on April 12, 2011
Manchester United beat Chelsea 2-1 to reach the semifinals of soccer’s Champions League, while Barcelona advanced with a 1-0 win at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Javier Hernandez and Park Ji-Sung scored a goal in each half for United last night to give the three-time European champion a 3-1 victory over two games with its Premier League rival, which had Ramires sent off in the second half. United will play Schalke or defending champion Inter Milan in the semifinals of Europe’s top club competition.
“We played very, very well and won against a very good team,” United manager Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports. “We were the better team on the night.”
Lionel Messi’s 48th goal of the season, a club record, completed Barcelona’s 6-1 series win over Shakhtar. Barcelona will meet Spanish archrival Real Madrid or Tottenham in the last four.
Manchester continued its home domination to reach the semifinals for the fourth time in five years. The Red Devils are unbeaten in 28 games in all competitions at Old Trafford since a 2-1 loss to Chelsea on April 3, 2010.
Chelsea’s Fernando Torres and Nicolas Anelka put early attempts wide, while Blues goalkeeper Petr Cech caught United striker Wayne Rooney’s long shot. Manchester goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar then stopped Frank Lampard’s shot and Anelka’s effort went over the United crossbar.
Hernandez was ruled offside in the 27th minute as he headed in Rooney’s cross. Van der Sar then raced out of his area to knock the ball away from Anelka after a mistake by Nemanja Vidic.
United scored just before halftime. Ryan Giggs carried the ball into area and sent a pass to the far post that Hernandez tapped in.
Early in the second half, Lampard and Didier Drogba, a halftime substitute for Torres, shot wide for Chelsea. Van der Sar also lunged to punch out Drogba’s free kick, while Cech made a diving save against Nani.
Chelsea went down to 10 men in the 70th minute after Ramires received a second yellow card for a challenge on Nani.
Drogba made it 2-1 overall when he beat Van der Sar with a shot in the 77th minute.
Any chance of a Chelsea comeback ended less than a minute later when Park scored after controlling a pass from Giggs.
“Us scoring so quickly after they scored knocked the stuffing out of them,” Giggs told Sky Sports.
Schalke is the favorite to face United for a place in the final. The German team hosts Inter tonight after a 5-2 win in the first game in Milan.
At the Donbass Arena in Ukraine, Messi scored his competition-leading ninth goal as Barcelona moved into the semifinals for the fifth time in six seasons.
The FIFA World Player of the Year took a pass from Dani Alves, went past two defenders and sent a left-footed shot past Andriy Pyatov in the 43rd minute. It broke the club record of 47 goals in a season that Argentina international Messi shared with former Brazil international Ronaldo, who retired in February.
Record nine-time European champion Real is on course to meet three-time winner Barcelona in the semifinals. Madrid takes a 4-0 lead into tonight’s meeting with at White Hart Lane in London.
Archrivals to Meet
Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes said he’s looking forward to “intense but enjoyable encounters” against Madrid in the coming weeks. Barcelona hosts Real in the league April 16 and four days later the teams meet again in the final of the Copa del Rey, or Spanish Cup. The opening games of the two Champions League semifinals are scheduled for April 26 and 27, with the return legs on May 3 and 4.
“We’re full of eagerness to face Madrid at the weekend and in the Copa del Rey final,” Valdes said on Barcelona’s website. “We’re playing even better now than in previous seasons.”
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