O'Shea strike gives United the advantage

Manchester United 1 Arsenal 0

Unlikely hero John O'Shea gave Manchester United a priceless lead to take into the second leg of their Champions League semi-final with Arsenal.

The defender's nerveless 17th-minute effort was the least Sir Alex Ferguson's side deserved for a near faultless display, in which Manuel Almunia made a quartet of stunning saves and Cristiano Ronaldo rattled the Gunners' crossbar.

In addition, Ryan Giggs had a goal controversially disallowed for offside on his 800th appearance, meaning Arsenal headed home glad to still have a chance of reaching Rome on May 27.

However, having indicated yesterday a single-goal victory and a clean sheet would represent a perfect result, Ferguson got exactly what he wanted and his side must be favourites to get through.

A game of pure football had been expected after the sterile affair in Catalonia last night. The problem for Arsenal was only United produced it.

The first half-hour was as one-sided as a game at this level is possible to be.

With screening midfielders Alexandre Song and Abou Diaby failing completely to quell the tide of onrushing home players, Wenger's team were almost submerged before they had managed so much as a shot.

United would have been in front with only a minute on the clock had Almunia not managed to claw away a looping Wayne Rooney header that seemed destined to drop in.

It proved to be the sign of things to come for Arsenal, who were pulled apart at regular intervals, with Almunia resembling King Canute trying to hold back the tide.

The Spaniard pulled off two splendid stops in the space of a minute to deny Ronaldo.

His first was the pick, parrying a firm header from point-blank range after Carlos Tevez had crossed. A curling shot from the boot of the Ballon D'Or winner followed shortly afterwards which Almunia was also equal to.

It would be too simplistic to say Tevez was the catalyst for such relentless attacking.

However, it is undeniable the Argentinian triggered Saturday's amazing comeback against Tottenham and, surprisingly selected ahead of record signing Dimitar Berbatov, Tevez kept going exactly the same way.

It was a close-range effort from Tevez, saved by Almunia, that proved to be the prelude to United's opener.

Anderson's corner fell kindly for Michael Carrick at the far post, with the England star electing for a firmly driven cross into the six-yard box.

Against his former club, Mikael Silvestre was eager to make a positive impression. That did not include deflecting the ball to O'Shea.

Leaning back, the Irishman crashed his shot into the roof of Almunia's net.

O'Shea has form for that kind of thing. A couple of years ago, he scored a last-minute winner at Anfield and then smacked one in at Everton in what turned out to be a title-winning victory.

If Arsenal thought the second half at least gave them an opportunity to enjoy a more even share of possession and chances, they were mistaken.

A rocket shot from Ronaldo cannoned away for a corner off Silvestre, the same player also sliding in to clear a low Evra cross bound for Tevez.

Anderson blazed over from the edge of the area, which was perhaps no surprise given he has not scored for United in almost two years since arriving from FC Porto. Under the circumstances, it was probably just as well an offside flag had earlier been incorrectly raised against the Brazilian as he threatened to charge clear after collecting an O'Shea pass.

Having given so much, Tevez was not amused to be replaced by Berbatov midway through the second-half.

Not that a capacity crowd had much time to consider his reaction after a loud rendition of 'Argentina' that followed 'sign him up', a cry seemingly destined to go unheeded.

Attention was diverted by the thunderous 25-yard effort from Ronaldo that smacked into the crossbar as United strained every sinew in their search for a second.

In response, Cesc Fabregas was off target with a couple of half-chances, Emmanuel Adebayor's volley flew over and substitute Nicolas Bendtner might well have equalised with a header from the free-kick that caused the collision which forced Rio Ferdinand off with what seemed like a rib injury.

The sight of Ferdinand trying to get back on even though Jonny Evans had already replaced him, emphasised how much this means to United.

Arsenal will need to exceed that determination if they are to overhaul the deficit next week.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on