Wembley calling Devils!
Manchester United earn crucial 2-0 away win against German minnows Schalke.sports Updated: Apr 27, 2011 23:42 IST
It is not often a manager feels able to rest key players for the second leg of a Champions League semi-final but so dominant were Manchester United against Schalke 04 that Alex Ferguson is planning just that.
With United imperious at Old Trafford this season, Tuesday's 2-0 win in the Gelsenkirchen first leg virtually secured their passage to the Wembley final on May 28 and gives Ferguson the unlikely option of rotating his team for two huge Premier League matches against Arsenal and Chelsea.
Ryan Giggs got the first goal, becoming the oldest scorer in the Champions League at 37 years and 148 days, with Wayne Rooney adding the second as United finally found a way past goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
"I've got good options because Nani could have played, but (Antonio) Valencia's form showed why he is playing. We've got (Paul) Scholes and Anderson.
"We've got selection problems now, but that's what we want. We've got important games coming up," said the Scotsman.
"The way I'm going to look at it is that we want to get Sunday's game over and get a positive result because that is a very important game for us now.
"Depending on the result on Sunday I could make two or three changes (for the second leg) because we have Chelsea the following Sunday.
United are six points clear of Chelsea and nine ahead of Arsenal with four games remaining and could wrap up a record 19th league title with two games to spare.
Ferguson is in the luxurious position of being able rest his main men ahead of a Champions League final meeting with either Barcelona or Real Madrid.
While neither of the Spanish sides will arrive at Wembley fearing United, they certainly would have taken notice at the verve and confidence they showed on Tuesday.
From the start they tore forward. Giggs broke the deadlock after 67 minutes and Rooney's second two minutes later allowed United to ease off the gas but even then Schalke failed to trouble them.
United's centre backs Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic barely broke sweat while full backs Patrice Evra and Fabio played as virtual wingers.
The victory completed a remarkable campaign where the English side did not concede a single away goal in the competition but keeper Edwin van der Sar had an easy evening.
"Our concentration, the intensity of our play and the speed of our passing were all excellent," concluded Ferguson.