Full-time - 93'
0 - 0
19:45 +00:00, November 22, 2005
Old Trafford, England
FULL TIME: As the teams troop off a half-hearted chant of 'Keano' ripples around Old Trafford, the former skipper's name now serving as a by-word for the crowd's disappointment at another night of thwarted European effort. Or something. Villarreal's gameplan worked wonderfully and United's attacks became more and more limp as the game continued. United are at least still in contention in this group. The other match between Benfica and Lille was also goalless. Tara.
Ronaldo and Park Ji-Sung try to create an opening through the middle of the Villarreal defence. There is another free kick for United in a similar position to the last. The crowd roar for Rooney to take it but Van Nistelrooy takes it upon himself to do the honours. A mistake. However, his mis-hit shot does give United a corner. This is duly wasted.
Van der Sar, in a hurry, launches a long one up in to the Villarreal penaly area. Saha connects with his head but the linesman is well placed to penalise Van Nistelrroy for offside.
Saha backheels cutely to Rooney on the edge of the box. He turns brilliantly and, in a flash, hits a powerful shot which is always rising just too far. A fine effort and a reminder that, with just one flash of brilliance from the young Englishman, United could secure the goal which will surely net the three points.
United free kick, thirty five yards out. If Beckham was still here, he would have a crack. As it is, Ronaldo steps up and hits a weak effort a long way over the bar. Very poor and time is running out.
Rooney too is showing signs of exasperation. He concedes a foul and the magic he showed in the first half seems a long way off now.
Van Nistelrooy runs the ball in to the corner but Gonzalo is too clever to concede anything more dangerous than a throw in. The Dutchman's frustration then sees him foul Senna.
Louis Saha is on for Alan Smith.
Another free kick from Senna is hit in to the box and Figeuroa nearly connects. United need to be careful here.
Senna hits a free kick with pace over the United wall but is is straight at Van Der Sar. Villarreal are threatening more as the game goes on.
Sorin and Figueroa come close to creating an opening in the United penalty area but the final ball is over-hit.
Scholes and PArk Ji-Sung combine but once more the attack founders on the Spanish defence. Or more accurately the South American defence as that is where the majority of this Villarreal team hail from.
Smith disposessed but United win it back and Neville tries to hit in a cross. It is blocked, however, and United's attack breaks down.
Park Ji-Sung fouled on the right and before the free kick can be taken Gary Neville is brought on to replace Wes Brown. That is the famous match-winning substitute Gary NEville. His goals could come in handy.
Rooney charges forward and tries to link with Van Nistelrooy. They lose the ball but press the Villarreal defence in to conceding a throw once more. United need more of this tenacity as the game enters the final twenty minutes.
Smith wins the ball well in the middle before Park Ji-Sung creates some space for Wes Brown. He then picks out Ronaldo with a delighful ball. The Portuguese heads wide from eight yards when he should have done better. United's best chance.
The ref blows for offside on Rooney after a good ball in to the box from O'Shea. I retract my previous statement regarding the Irishman's crossing, although it is likely he changed boots at half time.
The game is heating up. Roger fouls O'Shea when the ball is in the air. He had no intention of challenging for the ball, as his gaze was fixed intently on O'Shea as the United defender rose to meet it. Straight after that Rooney is involved in a scuffle with Gonzalo Rodriguez.
Great tackle from O'Shea on Roger near United's penalty area. The Villarreal players are complaining that, since their man was down 'injured', United should have kicked the ball out of touch. Rubbish, frankly. There is nothing wrong with him.
United attack in numbers and after some good work between Rooney and Park Ji_Sung, Ronaldo drifts inside. His shot is hit straight at Barbosa.
Villarreal have a throw in deep in United territory. There is a general hush over Old Trafford at the minute. Things are not going entirely United's way.
Scholes and Tacchinardi are booked after a challenge where the ex-Juve man's studs are showing. Mainly all over Paul Scholes thigh. Scholes is unlucky to be carded. For once.
Silvestre has conceded a corner. Roger whips it in but Smith cushions a defensive header out to Ronaldo whose galloping run out of defence is ended prematurely by Senna. Who is booked for his trouble.
Park Si-Jung is getting ready to come on. The United midfield are having difficulties breaking down the defensive wall of Sorin and Senna so Fletcher makes way for the Korean.
Ronaldo attacks Venta down the right then protests that he was having his shirt tugged. The ref is not interested.
Scholes tries to hit an early defence splitting pass to Van Nistelrroy but his intentions are well read by Venta who blocks the pass.
United are in possession once more and Rooney comes deep to help out. He is fouled and a free kcik is given.
Ronaldo regains control of the ball and can't resist a speculative long range effort. If not Row Z, then Row P.
United kick off the second half attacking the Stretford End. Scholes, Smith and Fletcher combine but the Scotsman's touch is poor and Villarreal have throw in.
HALF TIME: United are comfortably playing the more adventurous football but as of yet have not turned this possession in to genuine goalscoring opportunities. If Rooney and Van Nistelrooy continue to play this well though it is surely only a matter of time before they make the breakthrough. The longer it remains goalless however, the nervier Old Trafford is sure to become.
Ferdinand nearly caught in possession by Figeuroa but he shows good composure to hold him off and shepherd the ball to Silvestre. The much maligned Englishman is also showing something like his old form tonight.
Rooney fights for the ball near Villarreal's corner flag and his persistence brings his team a throw in. Rooney has been the best player on show tonight and his willingness to play for the cause will doubtless impress a certain absent Irishman.
Ferdinand has clattered in to the back of Figueroa. This is what happens to players who dive.
Ronaldo goes on one of his trademark darting runs and his pass to Scholes is then slipped through to Van Nistelrooy who goes to ground in the penalty area. A dive? No. More like a slip it would seem. No penalty.
Figueroa has just taken a terrible dive and his team now have a free kick in a dangerous area. Justice, truth and the American way is served though and United's wall hold firm.
Scholes appears more interested tonight than he has in previous games and it is he who starts a move in his own half. United patiently knock the ball about, find an opening down the right and win yet another corner which Rooney delivers in. Alan Smith heads well wide of the goal...and it didn't matter anyway as the ref had blown for a foul.
Scholes and Van Nistelrooy combine beautifully to fashion an openining for Scholes but he is crowded out and a corner is conceded to United. The Villareal defence clear again.
Rooney gives a misplaced pass to his strike partner which STILL finds its way to the big Dutchman. Everything this boy does is great.
A ball over the Villarreal defence frees Rooney but he is dealt with 'firmly' shall we say with a head on two footed challenge. Old Trafford roars its disapproval but the ref is having none of it.
Scholes tries to play Ronaldo in down the left touchline but gives him too much to do. Ronaldo still retrieves the ball and his enticing cross is headed away for a corner. Ronaldo then meets the ball in and hits a free header wide from twelve yards.
Villareal feed Jose Mari down the left but he is well tackled by Rio Ferdinand.
The crisp precision of United's passing suggests a goal is not too far away. However, it is now Villareal who are attacking but their free kick in to United's area is headed to safety.
Van Nistelrooy holds up the play, waiting for re-inforcemeents. Unfotunately for him they arrive in the shape of John O'Shea who is clealy wearing his 'cannot cross the ball' boots tonight. Villareal deal with his tame effort comfortably.
Van Nistelrooy spreads the play to Fletcher on the right who then feeds Rooney inside. His dinked little chip in to the area does not find a United man and the ball drifts harmlessly out of play.
Villareal appear content to sit back and try to contain United, who have shown enough menace to suggest this may be a difficult task to maintain for 90 minutes.
Nice control from Scholes from a tight angle and the play is spread wide to Wes Brown galloping up the right. His pressure on the Villareal defence brings United a throw in on the Spanish eighteen yard line. Which is wasted and cleared.
Ronaldo shows some deft footwork on the left wing but the cross is not forthcoming and Villareal are granted a free kick deedp in their own half.
A rare Villareal foray in to the UInited penalty area ends with Sorin being dispossessed by Fletcher.
A one two between Fletcher and Rooney on the edge of the box ends with a pile driver of a shot from Rooney which Barbosa deals with. Rooney is well up for it (as you may have read in the papers this week).
Ronaldo jinks down the left and sends in a delightful ball for Rooney, with his back to goal controls brilliantly and forces a save from Barbosa.
Villareal are eleven games unbeaten and have not conceded in the past three. This, along with United's poor record against Spanish sides, means it is sure to be a tense encounter for Ferguson's team.
Van Nistelrooy wears the captain's armband as United win the ball and attack immediately forcing Villareal keeper Barbosa to come and clear his lines.
A Roy Keane shaped shadow looms large over Old Trafford tonight. Can Fergie's men rise to the challenge?
Their opponents this evening, the charmingly nicknamed Yellow Submarines, come to Old Trafford denied the services of their talismanic Argentine genius Riquelme, their first choice goalkeeper and former United favorite, sorry player, Diego Forlan.
United will be hoping their recent good form in the Premiership carries in to Europe this evening when they face Villareal at Old Trafford. Incredibly, United have failed to score in five of their last six Champions League outings and it is this form which sees them facing an exit from the group stages of the competition for the first time since 1994.
Edwin van der Sar
Ruud van Nistelrooy
Juan Manuel Pena
Juan Pablo Sorin
Gonzalo Javier Rodriguez