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- article by the daily mail

Paul Scholes will play in a Champions League Final at last after his wonder goal gave Manchester United a sensational victory over Barcelona.

Scholes missed the 1999 Final triumph over Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp after picking up a booking in the semi-final at Juventus.

But last night the 33-year-old midfielder smashed home a 25-yard shot in the 14th minute at Old Trafford to make sure that Sir Alex Ferguson's team will be on the plane to Moscow.

United will now go on to contest the first ever all-English Champions League Final on May 21 against the winner of the other semi-final between Liverpool and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Ferguson said: "We are all delighted. It is especially pleasing for Paul Scholes and he will be the first name on my team-sheet for the Final.

"It was a fantastic goal. We can't expect him to score 14 or 15 a season like he used to, simply because he is getting older. He has delivered a goal at a crucial time for us because we were getting nervous in the early stages."

Scholes had only scored one goal this season before last night but his brilliant strike put Barcelona on the back foot after the 0-0 draw in Spain last week and Frank Rijkaard's multi-talented team could not find a way through.

United midfielder Michael Carrick said: "We see goals from Paul Scholes like that all the time in training but he saved one of his very best for the big occasion.

"It was an awesome strike and there are some very happy players in our dressing-room. We had put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve and I suppose we just feel relieved now.

"To play in the Final, whoever it is against, will be something special. We always back ourselves to topple any team we play."

United captain Rio Ferdinand also paid to tribute to Scholes and the crowd, saying: "You can't put this into words. The fans played their part and backed us the whole way and we dug deep. Then there was a moment of quality from a fantastic player. Paul Scholes — what a goal. A great time to get one."

United began the game nervously and came close to conceding a penalty in the first minute when Scholes brought down Lionel Messi inches outside the area.

With United missing the injured Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic, it was always going to be a tough night.

Barcelona dominated for long periods but never really threatened Edwin van der Sar's goal.

Ferguson will travel to London tonight to watch the other semi, which is poised at 1-1 after the first leg at Anfield last week.

Asked if a United-Liverpool Final would be the most attractive fixture, Ferguson said: "Well that's a good point and it would certainly be a great Final, wouldn't it? But I don't' really mind who we play as we are just delighted to be in the Final.

"Perhaps if it's Liverpool we will get more tickets for our fans, because if it is Chelsea, I think Roman Abramovich will buy them all!

"We needed a fantastic performance tonight and we got one. We knew it would be a long night because we were playing against a fantastic club and a great team.

"Several things won us the game, including our concentration. We protected our space really well and I think we could have scored three or four goals.

"In the first half I thought we were too nervous but in the second period we played with some conviction, confidence and belief.

"Towards the end of the game I knew it would be tight. If you are 1-0 down then you always have a go and that is what Barcelona did. They had a good spell towards the end and we were hanging on.

"But we are there now and that's important. The Final will look after itself when it comes around but I really think we deserve to be there. Our performances throughout the competition have been fantastic. We have shown great discipline and tactically we have been very good."

United will contest the club's third European Cup Final, 50 years after Sir Matt Busby's first great team perished in the Munich air disaster of 1958 on their way back from a securing a place in that year's semi-finals.

Asked if it would be more special to win it this year, Ferguson said: "Fate is fate and hopefully it turns out right. But the most important thing is to be in the Final."

The loss added to Barcelona's disappointment this season, having already been eliminated from the Spanish championship, but Rijkaard does not think it is time to step down.

"No. That thought has not entered my head," said the Dutchman, who has been linked with a move to Chelsea.

"I have no intention of leaving. The players are very down, sad and disappointed. But it's easy to kick people when they are down. Instead they need help and support. I am proud of the fact that they gave everything tonight.

"We did everything but score. It was an even game. If anything we possibly had the better of the play but we did not score."

United now turn their attention to a vital Barclays Premier League fixture at home to West Ham on Saturday and hope Rooney will be fit for the first of two games they must win if they are to retain their title.

Ferguson added: "Hopefully this result will bring the best out of us and it certainly won't do us any harm. It will give us confidence. I hope the supporters will be as good as they were tonight on Saturday."

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after what happened in 99 he has to be the first on the teamsheet ,just to make sure he scored the goal that got us there his younger days scholes always scored in batches it would not surprise me if he scored another very crucial goal in utds season.

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Haha they look like they are trying to make Rijkaard cry laughing in his face :D
Bit of a dilemma for Fergie here, with Scholess' place set in stone who will play in the middle with him Carrick/Hargo? With them both being so integral in our run to the final. Also is Giggs going to start or will he make the record breaking cap as a sub ?

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13,814 Posts
Nemanjaaa said:
Bit of a dilemma for Fergie here, with Scholess' place set in stone who will play in the middle with him Carrick/Hargo?
I reckon it'll be both.

If our first choice back 4 is fit then I think we'll start with Carrick, Scholes & Hargreaves in central midfield and if we have an injury in defence I think Hargreaves will start at right-back with Carrick and Scholes in central midfield possibly joined by Anderson or Fletcher.
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