Ferguson ready to ring the changes for second leg after easy win all but seals United’s place in final

SCHALKE 0 vs MANCHESTER UTD 2

MANCHESTER UNITED manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted he could be in a position to rest key personnel for the second leg of their Champions League semi-final after an utterly dominant performance in Gelsenkirchen virtually assured his side of a place in next month’s Wembley final.

Only a world class display from Schalke’s goalkeeper, United transfer target Manuel Neuer, prevented the 2008 winners from increasing their margin of victory.

Indeed, the Germany international’s excellence meant United had to wait until the 67th minute to open the scoring through Ryan Giggs, with Wayne Rooney doubling the advantage 120 seconds later.

With the return fixture at Old Trafford sandwiched in between crunch Premier League fixtures away at Arsenal and home to Chelsea, Ferguson revealed he will contemplate making alterations to his line-up for the visit of Schalke, who were outclassed and out of their depth last night.

Ferguson said: “Depending on the result on Sunday [at Arsenal] I could make two or three changes because we play Chelsea the following weekend.

“We are a bit disappointed we didn’t take more chances but overall we are delighted with the performance.

“In the first half especially we had some good chances and we were disappointed at half time not to be in front.”

Neuer produced five outstanding stops to leave United frustrated at the break, with Javier Hernandez and Giggs unusually culpable. The Mexico forward then had a goal ruled out for offside after the break before Giggs broke the deadlock.

Rooney’s perfectly weighted

pass dissected the Schalke defence for the umpteenth time and on this occasion Giggs, who had previously failed to beat the goalkeeper by attempting to go around and over him, finally succeeded by slotting the ball through Neuer’s legs.

And two minutes later United gained the breathing space their performance merited when Hernandez’s clever flick released Rooney and the England international, sent-off in a World Cup quarter-final on this ground five years ago, provided a devastating first time finish.

Ferguson added: “Our concentration, intensity and speed of passing was excellent. The continuity of selection in these games gives us good experience and work-rate and I have good options everywhere.”

KEY MOMENTS
First-half: The opening period was simply United against Neuer. The Germany international, on his way to Bayern in the summer, denied Hernandez twice

67 mins: Giggs, 37, became the oldest goalscorer in the competition’s history when he calmly beet Neuer after being released by Rooney’s reverse pass

69 mins: Rooney was outstanding all night playing behind Hernandez and got his goal when he latched onto the Mexican’s and smashed low past Neuer