Manchester United overpower Gamba in 5-3 classic
Manchester United overpowered Japan's Gamba Osaka 5-3 to book their place in the Club World Cup final on Thursday, with six goals in a breathless 17 minutes.sports Updated: Dec 18, 2008 19:11 IST
Manchester United overpowered Japan's Gamba Osaka 5-3 to book their place in the Club World Cup final on Thursday, with six goals in a breathless 17 minutes.
First-half headers from Nemanja Vidic and Cristiano Ronaldo, both from Ryan Giggs corners, set them on their way but it was the second-half that set the game on fire.
Gamba pulled one back through Masato Yamazaki in the 74th minute before Wayne Rooney pounced a minute later.
Darren Fletcher made it 4-1 on 78 minutes before Rooney bagged another seconds after the restart.
Adding to the drama, Gamba won a penalty when Gary Neville handled the ball and Yasuhito Endo converted the spot kick with five minutes left. Hideo Hashimoto then made it 5-3 in injury time.
United now have to overcome Ecuador's Liga de Quito on Sunday to claim one of the few pieces of silverware to elude the club in its distinguished history.
For Gamba, it was one of the biggest games in their history and they could easily have been overawed, but the J-League side started confidently with Tomokazu Myojin having the first chance of the night.
Michihiro Yasuda also went close early on, seeing his left foot strike sail over the bar on a chilly evening.
United started without Dimitar Berbatov who was sick with a virus while Rooney was on the bench after picking up a knock in training, giving a rare start for Carlos Tevez.
And it didn't take long for United to warm up with Ronaldo, again at the centre of reports that he is headed for Real Madrid at the end of the season, unleashing a left foot drive that Yosuke Fujigaya did well to gather.
With 68,000 fans packed into the Yokohama International Stadium, the atmosphere was electric with as many cheering for United as the local hopes.
It was fast and furious and United had a let off in the 13th minute when danger man Endo floated a beautifully paced ball over the defence which Ryuji Bando controlled brilliantly.
He let rip with his left foot but Edwin Van der Sar was off his line in a flash to save a certain goal with his legs.
At the other end, Ronaldo, in lime green boots, collected the ball on the right, twisted and turned his way past two defenders only to blast his shot just past the left-hand post.
The Portugese star was on form, roaming from left to right, and he broke into the box in the 27th minute only to see his powerful drive rebound off Gamba captain Satoshi Yamaguchi.
They got the breakthrough from the resulting corner, with Vidic rising above Yamaguchi to head home Giggs' cross.
The goal dented Gamba's confidence and they struggled to get back in the game, with a hammer blow coming right on half time when Ronaldo climbed to meet a Giggs corner and make it 2-0.
United were enjoying themselves and the chances came thick and fast in the second half, before the astonishing 17-minute rollercoaster turned the game into a classic.