Full-time - 90'
0 - 0
UEFA Champions League
18:45 +00:00, April 23, 2008
Referee: Massimo Busacca
In truth, it was a big let down with few chances at either end. If only Ronaldo's second minute penalty had gone in the game would have opened up and we could have joyfully received the 5-5 classic we all wanted, and expected. You have to say it is advantage Man United at this stage but it should be a fascinating - and much more open - encounter at Old Trafford next week. Honest! Until next time...
The final whistle. Oh no! It has finsihed 0-0!
Well, I am fully prepared for the deluge of emails poiting out how wrong I called this one. Its been a bit dull all in all - apart from the first three minutes!
Zambrotta lumps a ball into the area but Ferdinand will beat Henry in the air all day long...
There will be two minutes of added on time.
It is the Man United fans who can be heard above a few whistles here and there from the home crowd.
Henry takes it and though Van der Sar makes it look spectacular, it was actually a very comfortable save. Time running out for Barcelona...
Iniesta goes flying after a Carrick trip. Now, this is central, about 30 yards from goal. Henry is eyeing it up...
A flurry of shots reign in after the free kick was cleared, the last of which - from Xavi - gets a touch off Scholes and forces Van der Sar to change direction smartly and get down well to save.
Evra tumbles into the back of Bojan and gives away a free kick, wide on the right about 40 yards out.
Ryan Giggs is coming on for the ineffectual Carlos Tevez.
Henry tries a repeat dose but Hargreaves gets tight on him to block. A bit more urgency from Barca...
Oooh Henry! He cuts in from the left and smashes a swerving, dipping shot towards VDS who can only block it with his palms. That was like the Thierry of old.
Its turning into a bit of a Mexican standoff this, and not just because Marquez is on the field....
United will definitely shut up shop now - they have done for the last half hour to be honest - but how much will Barca be willing to press on? They need at least a goal to take to Old Trafford, surely?
So, ten minutes of the game to go and it has been disappointing thus far. I'm sticking by my 7-6 to United prediction for the minute though.
Rubbish from Ji-Sung Park. Ronaldo does well to hold up possession near the corner flag before feeding the South Korean but he literally passes the ball straight to Victor Valdes. Awful.
Henry heads straight up top and not towards the left where he has played a fair bit this season.
Rooney is off and Nani comes on, then a familiar face - that of Thierry Henry - comes on for the disappointing Deco.
More neat interplay between Barca's forward players. The move ends with a floated ball from Iniesta looking for Bojan but he can't direct his header towards that big rectangular netted thing.
Tevez has very nearly played his side into trouble with a slack lay-off - Brown recovers the situation though.
Owen Hargeaves has been carded after hauling down Bojan. That was harsh - there was minimal contact.
Now Iniesta tries to con the ref with an outrageous dive in the area. That was a blatant dive, and warranted a card I reckon.
Ronaldo has done another dying swan routine inside the area but quite frankly, if he didn't get a penalty for the Marquez block in the first half he ain't getting another one off this referee ever.
Csrrick has done it again. He's looking for a pinpoint 50 yard ball when he had a plethora of options closer to him. That stray ball prompted exasperation on the United bench and no mistaking.
Sloppy play from United again, Scholes finds Carrick before the Geordie flicks it aimlessly out to the right in the direction of Park but the ball sails out of play for a throw in.
From the way he has set his stall out, and the way they are operating it looks like Fergie wants a clean sheet above all else. There is no adventure about his side at all, which is rare.
Hargeaves does well when confronted with a twisting and turning Bojan.
From a Barca corner Deco swings his leg at the ball, sending it miles wide and miles high. Come on galacticos, give us something we can work with here....
What this game needs is....? Answers on a postcard to Soccernet HQ. Oh, scrap that. It needs a goal people, A GOAL!
Its Ronaldo versus four Barca defenders whenever he gets a sniff off the ball, which isn't very often at present. Rooney has hardly had a kick either.
Xavi takes the free kick but bends it high and wide. Poor.
Hargreaves concedes a free kick but Messi won't take it, he's coming off and Bojan Krkic is coming on.
More solidity from United, as they look increasingly content to sit and soak up pressure, playing on the counter when a Barca move breaks down.
Now Xavi tests Van der Sar with a fierce, low drive. The Dutchman is down and across smartly though.
Ronaldo is fast approaching full on sulk mode - the ref is having none of his theatrics.
Handball from Toure breaks up a United counter, then Messi fails to spot a chink of light between Ferdinand and Brown into which Eto'o had drifted. Very unlike him, being the genius he is.
Xavi looks for Eto'o in behind Brown but the United stopper does well to shield him away from danger.
Zambrotta is the latest to test Van der Sar with a right footed drive right at the Dutchman's chest.
Order is restored somewhat after that flurry of action at either end.
Now Carrick has hit the side netting! He collected a corner on the far edge of the box, sells a dummy to Toure, heads in on goal but then blasts his shot narrowly wide! Chances at both ends!
More pressure from Barca, a slick move sees Messi feed Xavi who back-heeled for Eto'o but the African spurns another great opportunity by flashing his shot into the side netting!
If Eto'o had gone down when Ferdinand piled in it was a stick on penalty, and maybe a sending off too, but the striker stayed on his feet then couldn't pick out his pal.
What a waste of a chance! Brown dallies, Eto'o nips in, rides Ferdinand's lunge before trying to pick out Messi in the six yard box but Brown is back to clear! That should have been 1-0!
Lovely skill from Tevez to twist away from Xavi but his ball wide for Ronaldo is telegraphed and Milito intercepts.
Messi is on the ball again to win a corner off Evra. Ronaldo heads clear before Zambrotta hits one from distance, it was always rising but VDS tips it over for good measure...
At the other end Messi works a shooting chance on his unfavoured, unloved and not especially good, right foot but Brown gets in the way.
Rooney tries a slide rule 45-yard pass in a vain attempt to find Ronaldo but Milito cuts it out.
Strap yourselves in, we're off again..
Well, that first half has flown by. It hasn't been massive on quality, but there has been instant drama with Ronaldo's penalty miss the main talking point. See you in 15 minutes...
Ronaldo's effort is poor. Marquez will miss the second leg due to that booking by the way.
Marquez gets a yellow card for hauling down Ronaldo and United yet another free kick, this time on the left.
Well done Rio Ferdinand - he just manages to stay ahead of Eto'o as Xavi's precise ball split the centre pairing, and shepherd it back to his keeper.
For all their possession Barca haven't had a glaring opportunity of note, and despite his woeful kicking, Van der Sar hasn't been properly tested once.
United win another free kick, this time on the right but even though Ferdinand was up from the back Ronaldo chose to stand it up on the edge of the box where Tevez was easily outjumped by Toure. Erratic is the best word to describe Ronaldo in this first half so far.
United have regained their composure a little here and are knocking the ball around with the sort of confidence their excellent season should afford them.
Now Scholes wins a fre kick for an identical misdemeanour to his of two minutes previous. Ronaldo takes the kick quickly though - too quickly in fact - and the chance is lost.
Deco tries a wildly ambitious effort from the free kick and Van der Sar is across to pounce on the ball.
Scholes is harshly adjudged to have fouled the onrushing Xavi as Iniesta flicked the ball into his path. Free kick, 45 yards from goal.
Hargreaves is down after Iniesta slid in to block his clearance. Fear not Reds fans - it looks like he'll be ok to carry on.
We haven't seen much from either Rooney or Tevez as of yet and players like Park, Scholes and Carrick are solely concerned with breaking up waves of red and blue attacks.
Eto'o and Messi combine, before the African striker tries a shot from just inside the area. Brown and Ferdinand fling their bodies in the way to take the sting off it - and just as well.
Messi's ball in is deflected behind for a corner, which Van der Sar claims comfortably.
Messi wins a free kick off Evra on the left wing.
A rare forward move from United as Ronaldo finds Rooney. His cross looks for Park but he can't connect cleanly with a header and Valdes mops up.
If anything, that was more of a pen than the Milito handball. Marquez didn't attempt to play the ball, he only had eyes for blocking Ronaldo, and succeeded.
Iniesta gives the ball straight to Ronaldo who charges into the area before Marquez blocks him off. It should have been a penalty but the ref, mindful of giving United two pens in 30 mins lets play go! A poor decision!
Toure slides in to pinch the ball from Tevez and gets a roar of approval from the majority of this 99,000 sell out crowd.
Barca are camped in United's half at present, but can't produce the final, killer ball that will fashion a clear-cut scoring chance.
Barca are getting closer here. Iniesta and Eto'o combine well and move into the area but Rooney nips in to clear before the latter can get his shot off. I can sniff a home goal....
A spell of pressure in the final third ends with a stabbed effort from Iniesta that spirals well wide. Barca still entirely dominant...
Ronaldo is playing the lone role up top so far with Rooney and Tevez beavering away in support. Nothing in the way of chances emerging however.
Ooh, a cracking ball in from Abidal there. Low, hard and right along the edge of the six yard box. All it needed was a touch!
Valdes and Ronaldo had a little coming together there after a long ball from Ferdinand. Nothing more than handbags though. In fact, it was more insignificant than that, it was purses.
Every time United get hold of the ball at present they are surrendering possession instantly. Now Tevez fouls Toure and Deco's curling free kick forces Van der Sar into a save.
United still look they're a team thinking about what might have been. They need to wake up a bit here because its been all Barca since Ronaldo's woeful miss.
Van der Sar shanks another back pass! What's got into the freaky-deeky Dutch keeper? He's handing Barcelona chances on a plate here....
Free kick to United, a similar distance out to Ronaldo's last effort. He tries again and it trickles behind for a corner, thanks to a deflection. Nothing doing from the corner.
A very bright start from Barcelona, after the penalty of course. Seems like a while ago now doesn't it?
For some reason Rafael Marquez took it and blasted it straight into the wall. He's bigger than the other lads who were standing rouond it, but that's no reason to let him take it is it?
Now Tevez brings down Eto'o from behind and it is a free kick in the edge of the box, bang central. Danger for United.
Now Van der Sar has a wobble! He hits a back pass straight to Messi but though he slips Eto'o in the Cameroon international can't find Iniesta. A let off for United!
A lovely move from Barca sees Iniesta break into the area before squaring the ball just too far back for Eto'o and Messi. Silky stuff from the Catalans. They aren't a spent force just yet..
Here's an interesting stat: both sides have an identical record in this year's Champions League, winning eight and drawing two, even scoring and conceding the same amount of goals. Told you it was interesting....
Yaya Toure charges in at the near post and Brown pokes behind for another corner. Zambrotta fires one in as the cross breks but it goes behind for yet another corner.
Evra now nods behind after Abidal dispossessed Rooney and lumped in a cross. The home side hit back....
Now Eto'o tries to do the same after robbing Tevez of the ball. The Argentine tracked back well and gets a foot in to concede a throw in though.
Ronaldo has his first run down the left flank, beating Deco with ease before whipping in a cross that eludes his team mates.
Barca now get their foot on the ball for the first time. How will United be affected by chucking away such a wonderful chance?
Well, we expected drama but not so early. In all the excitement I invented a new type of place kick, a pemalty. Apologies.
My word! What a start. Ronaldo has fired that MILES wide! What a golden chance to register an away goal within 100 seconds. Instead, Barcelona will be lifted by that, especially Milito who put his hands above his head to block Ronaldo's header to concede the pen.
Ronaldo misses! Unbelievable!
PEMALTY TO UNITED! Handball!
Free kick to United as Ronaldo is felled by Abidal. The Portuguese gets up off the floor and hits one from 45 yards out, it is deflected and United have a corner.
Fergie looks uber relaxed; sitting cross-legged on the bench furiously chewing gum as per usual.
The Camp Nou, as you'd expect, looks resplendent. It is packed to the rafters, bristling with atmosphere, bedecked in colour and crackling with expectation. The teams are in the tunnel and here comes the noise. Hold onto your hats people, this could be very big indeed.
A special mention should go to Paul Scholes, this being his 100th Champions League appearance and all. What price the Ginger Ninja to pop up with a goal to mark the special occasion?
If the game ends in an edgy stalemate completely devoid of goalmouth action you officially have my permission to mail soccernet and berate me.
Quite frankly, this should be brilliant. Forget the turgid, tense, 'oh but what if we concede an away goal,' approach of Chelsea and Liverpool - these two teams like to play football the right way. And thus, tonight could - and I emphasise the word could - turn into a footballing classic. I'm going for a 7-6 scorline in favour of United.
And the Barca top lines: Bong! Thierry Henry and Bojan benched. Bong! Messi starts. Bong! Deco is back in favour with Rijkaard. Bong! Rafael Marquez replaces the suspended Carlos Puyol at centre back.
So, the Man Utd headlines are these: Bong! Vidic fails to recover from his poorly tummy. Bong! Wes Brown starts at centre-half with Owen Hargreaves at right back. Bong! Carlos Tevez is in, and complements the fearsome attacking duo of Rooney and Ronaldo.
And the visitors, Manchester United: Van der Sar, Hargreaves, Ferdinand, Brown, Evra, Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes, Park, Rooney and Tevez. Subs from: Kuszczak, Anderson, Giggs, Nani, Pique, O'Shea and Silvestre.
Without further wibble, here are the teams, starting with Barcelona: Valdes, Zambrotta, Marquez, Milito, Abidal, Xavi, Toure Yaya, Deco, Messi, Eto'o and Iniesta. Subs from: Pinto,
Gudjohnsen, Henry, Sylvinho, Giovanni, Thuram and Bojan.
Well hello there. Would you by any chance be looking for a footy-mad website on which to follow one of the most eagerly awaited Champions League semi-finals OF ALL TIME?! Want it delivered in a matter-of-fact, if slightly ironic and detached way?! Then you're in the right place my friends. Every kick, tackle, pass, swear word, stray elbow and goal will appear right here, courtesy of me, Chris Murphy.
Join us at 1945 BST to see if Man Utd can overcome Barcelona at the Nou Camp. It should be a cracking game!