Manchester United thrashed Schalke 04 4-1 at Old Trafford to advance to the 2010/11 Champions League final and set up a mouthwatering clash with Barcelona.
Holding a 2-0 first leg advantage over the Germans, Manager Sir Alex Ferguson took a huge gamble resting first-team players like Wayne Rooney, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand and Javier Hernandez. Nevertheless, the Red Devils took the lead through Antonio Valencia after 26 minutes when the Ecuadorian drilled a low shot past Manuel Neuer after a skillful through ball from Irishman Darron Gibson. Gibson then added United’s second five minutes later with the help of a rare error from the Schalke custodian to all but put the tie beyond the visiting team’s reach.
Spanish international Jose Manuel Jurado pummeled in a fierce shot high past Van der Sar and into the net in the 35th minute to give his team a fighting chance. It thus ended 2-1 in favour of the Red Devils heading into the break.
Any hopes of Ralf Rangnick's men pulling off an unlikely comeback were dashed when Brazilian midfielder Anderson tapped in a Nani cross on the 72nd minute and then scored his second four minutes later to give the three-time winners a 6-1 aggregate win and a ticket to the Wembley final.
Sir Alex Fergusson’s men will meet fellow three-time winners Barcelona in the May 28 final at Wembley. The Catalans advanced to the finals after edging out rivals Real Madrid 3-1 on aggregate in the first semi-finals.
This will be a repeat of the 2008-09 final which the Spanish giants won 2-0 with goals from Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi settling the match played at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy. It will be the second time in three years that the two European football powerhouses have contested the final.
A win for either of the teams will add the fourth European trophy to their cabinets.
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