Football: Monaco and bust for sorry United

European Cup quarter-final: Away goal proves decisive as Ferguson's vision of glory is victim of French finesse

Manchester United 1 Monaco 1 agg 1-1; Monaco win on away goal

THERE will be no 30th anniversary date with European glory this year at Old Trafford, just a lingering sense of what might have been. The English champions last night were unable to overcome either their own crippling injury list or their impressive French counterparts, Monaco.

Behind to a David Trezeguet goal after just five minutes of this European Champions' Cup quarter-final second leg, United showed all their customary courage to draw level through Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after 53 minutes. They were not, however, able to display the usual panache and penetration and succumbed to Trezeguet's away goal.

The result vindicated George Best's deflating but realistic pre-match prognosis. The star of the 1968 winners said of the current vintage: "I don't think this is going to be their year. They are a couple of players short."

A look at the teamsheet reveals the situation was far worse than that. United began four players short; Roy Keane, Gary Pallister, Peter Schmeichel and Ryan Giggs, who had broken down in training on the morning of the match. They then lost Gary Neville and Paul Scholes.

Tigers may be more dangerous when wounded but not football teams. United were a pale shadow of the side that romped through domestic and European fields in the autumn and Alex Ferguson may rue his failure, alone among the quarter-finalists, to strengthen his squad in the winter transfer window. "We do need a stronger squad," he admitted. "We are patching the team up and our balance is not right. We would have won this game with our best side but you have to accept injuries in management."

Jean Tigana, the Monaco coach, said: "We were fortunate United had players out but that does not diminish the achievement."

Monaco, with Trezeguet back, looked stronger than in the goalless first leg. That impression gained credence within five minutes. Ronny Johnsen's clearance was headed back towards Trezeguet by Djibril Diawara, Denis Irwin and Johnsen both missed tackles and the ball came to Trezeguet. Emmanuel Petit, Arsenal's former Monaco player, said this week that Trezeguet needed few "occasions" to score. So it proved as, from 20 yards, he hit a 96mph drive into the roof of the net that even Schmeichel would have struggled to stop.

Old Trafford fell into a mood of sullen anticlimax and it took 17 minutes for them to create a chance, a David Beckham cross that Solskjaer almost reached. Monaco still looked more polished and penetrative and should have gone two up when Victor Ikpeba put a free header straight at Raimond van der Gouw.

Nicky Butt was booked as United struggled to gain possession but eventually they did with he and Beckham to the fore. Beckham whistled a shot over, put a free-kick just wide and won a corner with a neat one-two with Butt. In the midst of this Collins was booked for cutting him down from behind - so the Scot will be ruled out of the semi-final first leg.

United ended the half the stronger with Muhamed Konjic clearing one cross from Teddy Sheringham from almost under his own bar and Martin Djetou lucky to escape a penalty for handball - "it looked a clear handball to me," said Ferguson - for blocking another. Despite the loss of Scholes they continued to press after the break and, eight minutes into the half, Butt burst into the box and was brought down by Franck Dumas. As 50,000 voices screamed "penalty" Helmut Krug kept his whistle still as Beckham crossed low for Solskjaer to score.

Game on - with Monaco, to their credit, still refusing to sit on their away goal. In a frantic five minutes Solskjaer was booked, Michael Clegg fizzed a shot over and Collins twice tested Van der Gouw - the first, a chip, bringing a save worthy of the great Dane he replaced.

The climax was just as hectic with Van der Gouw making a brave and agile save from Thierry Henry at one end and Sheringham and Beckham, twice, going close at the other. United never had enough, however. "To win this competition you need luck with injuries," Tigana said. There was no dissent from United.

Manchester United (4-4-2): Van Der Gouw; P Neville, G Neville (Berg, 31), Johnsen, Irwin; Scholes (Clegg, 31), Beckham, Butt, Solskjaer; Sheringham, Cole. Substitutes not used: May, McClair, Thornley, Curtis, Pilkington (gk).

Monaco (3-5-2): Barthez; Konjic (Da Costa, 74), Dumas, Djetou; Sagnol, Benarbia (Carnot, 66), Diawara, Collins, Leonard; Trezeguet, Ikpeba (Henry, 60). Substitutes not used: Pignol, Spehar, Christanval, Porato (gk).

Referee: H Krug (Ger).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future