4.29pm EDT 16:29 90 min Two minutes of added time. Two minutes before Manchester United can celebrate reaching their first European Cup final for 31 years, and the first for any English team since readmission in 1990. 4.28pm EDT 16:28 90 min “I’m totally absorbed in this game, which is a good job as I’m
90 min Two minutes of added time. Two minutes before Manchester United can celebrate reaching their first European Cup final for 31 years, and the first for any English team since readmission in 1990.
90 min “I’m totally absorbed in this game, which is a good job as I’m currently stuck in Maryland, on an exchange year,” says Chris Goater. “Americans just don’t get Soccarball. I have tried to get my mates Heather, Mike and Josh interested but their more interested in making a crappy documentary about local folklore. I keep telling them the real drama’s here, man!”
89 min Stam provides one last reminder of his excellence, jockeying Amoruso away from goal before blocking his shot.
88 min: Just wide from Beckham! What a goal that would have been. Irwin, who has quietly had a great game, beats Fonseca, Deschamps and Conte on the left before crossing towards Beckham on the edge of the area. He ignores the flying challenge of Davids and bullets a volley that bounces a couple of yards wide. As he runs back upfield, Beckham looks across at Davids and says simply, “Fucking wanker”. Davids had a lot to say before the game, not so much now.
87 min Juventus need to score twice in the space of three or four minutes. Normally I’d say there’s a very slight chance, but they look completely shot, mentally and physically. United have broken their will. Their new coach Carlo Ancelotti is chewing a piece of gum like he wants to crunch it into a million pieces.
86 min Zidane is very lucky not to be booked for a karate kick on Beckham. He was going for the ball, I think, but he ended up studding Beckham in the back as they challenged for Yorke’s crossfield pass.
GOAL! Juventus 2-3 Manchester United (Cole 84)
Manchester United are so close to the European Cup final now! Cole, who has had a storming game, gets the goal he thoroughly deserves to give United a two-goal cushion. It all started with Schmeichel, who belted a goalkick into the night sky. Montero clodhopped it straight to Yorke, 35 yards out, and he headed straight for goal. Do not pass ‘Go’, do not collect £200. He danced between Montero and Ferrara, taking advantage of a generous ricochet, and then went round the goalkeeper Peruzzi. He tripped Yorke up as he stretched for the ball, but Cole followed up to slide it in from a tight angle. I cannot believe this: Manchester United, who have never won a match in Italy, have come from 2-0 down to lead Juventus in their own backyard!
83 min United waste the best part of a minute with a good spell of possession. Eventually Neville and Yorke combine nicely to find Cole, whose shot from the edge of the area is comfortably saved by the tumbling Peruzzi. Cole had Butt in so much space to his left but didn’t see him.
82 min: Yet another sniff for Inzaghi! Zidane, on the left, eased a pass into the area for Fonseca, whose cutback somehow escaped Inzaghi in the six-yard box. He lunged at the ball at the near post, under pressure from Stam and Schmeichel, and it beat the lot of them before running safely to Irwin. Eight minutes to go. This is almost too much to bear.
81 min Fonseca’s dangerous cross from the right is headed behind for a corner by Johnsen, a superb bit of defending. United break three-on-three from the corner before Keane is fouled by Montero. At least I thought he was; the referee disagreed.
80 min: Fonseca clears off the line with his first touch! Beckham’s deep corner was headed back towards goal by Yorke, and the substitute Fonseca hacked it behind for another corner.
80 min The tireless Beckham gives United a bit of a breather by winning a couple of corners down the right. Juventus make their final change, bringing on another forward, Daniel Fonseca, for the makeshift right-back Di Livio.
78 min The pressure is starting to mount. United have 12 minutes to survive. I swear the clock hasn’t moved for the last five minutes.
76 min: Now Scholes is out of the final! Manchester United will be without two of their best midfielders if they reach the final. Beckham made a vital, desperate interception in his own area to deny Conte a clear chance, but Juve kept the pressure on until Scholes won the ball off Davids.
It ran loose between Scholes and Deschamps, who both went in two-footed for the 50/50 – but it was Scholes who was penalised and booked by the referee Urs Meier. Scholes turns away in anguish and receives a sympathetic pat on the head from Keane. Scholes definitely took the ball, and he went into the tackle horizontally – unlike Deschamps, who went over the top of the ball.
75 min Cole and Ferrara almost come to blows! Ferrara ushered the ball through to the keeper and was challenged by Cole. The two went head to head and then Ferrara shoved his hand in Cole’s face. He should have been sent off in the first half, and I’m surprised he wasn’t booked for that.
74 min Keane wins a 50/50 ball with Davids on the right. The ball runs loose – so Keane wins another 50/50, this time with Deschamps, before being fouled. That’s a microcosm of the midfield battle in this game. I think Keane has outimmensed even Jaap Stam.
74 min “It’s crazy that the Bayern match is on at the same time as this game!” says Steve Pollard. “In future, Uefa should put the semis on separate days so we can watch both.”
73 min United have been wonderful tonight, yet they are still only one Juventus goal from heartbreak. If they don’t go through, they will be haunted forever by some of their near misses.
72 min Cole does Ferrara with a dummy on the halfway line, only to lose his footing as he tries to run onto the ball. Cole has had a sensational game. If this isn’t proof that he is good enough for international football, then I don’t know what is.
71 min: Irwin hits the post! United come this close to giving themselves a two-goal cushion. They kept the ball for a long time on the right-hand side before moving it all the way across the field to Irwin, 40 yards from goal. He moved forward, away from a half-arsed challenge by Deschamps, and fronted up Di Livio on the edge of the area.
Di Livio invited him to go inside, so Irwin did just that before driving an almost nonchalant low shot that beat Peruzzi and bounced off the inside of the far post. It rebounded all the way back across goal to Irwin, who put the second chance into the side netting from a tight angle.
68 min: Inzaghi almost gets in again! Ferrara drives a very long pass to the edge of the penalty area, where Johnsen and Neville leave the ball to each other. Inzaghi nips between them – but then he miscontrols the ball, and that allows Johnsen to recover and clear the ball off him for a goal-kick. It looks like Inzaghi had been penalised, possibly for handball when he tried to control that pass. Either way, it was another hairy moment for the United defence.
67 min Alex Ferguson makes his first substitution, with Paul Scholes replacing Jesper Blomqvist. He has put in a fair old shift, much of it defensively, and looks knackered. That should give United a bit more protection in the centre of midfield, with Butt now playing from the left.
66 min A reminder of Juventus’s menace. Zidane moves balletically away from Keane, Irwin and Butt before finding Conte. He stabs a through pass towards Amoruso, who controls the ball on the run and is about to shoot when Stam comes round the side to make another brilliant interception. He has been immense.
63 min Tonight’s lottery numbers have just flashed up at the bottom of the screen. Piss off our land! We don’t ask Dale Winton to tell us the score of Colchester v Man City on a Saturday night, do we.
62 min: Inzaghi has a goal disallowed! Jesper Blomqvist is the most relieved man in the entire known universe. After Stam headed the ball out to the edge of the area, Blomqvist dithered and was robbed by Deschamps. Conte picked up the loose ball and dragged a shot across the face of goal, where Inzaghi gleefully ran the ball into the net. He was miles offside and can have no complaints. Okay, should have no complaints. He’s currently giving the linesman an earful. It was a decent chance in the first place for Conte, but he slipped as he tried to shoot and that’s why it went off target.
61 min Beckham’s outswinging corner finds Yorke, whose header is comfortably held by Peruzzi.
60 min A clever reverse pass from Beckham almost puts Keane through on goal. Ferrara strains every sinew to divert the ball behind for a corner, at which point Keane kicks the ball against an advertising board and implores someone – not Beckham – to play the ball first time. I’m starting to get the impression that Roy Keane has quite high standards.
58 min Zidane is jeered by the home fans after driving a pass straight out of play. United have calmed things down after a slightly fraught start to the second half. They’re 32 minutes away from the greatest win of their club careers.
55 min: Cole misses a great chance! Neville drives a long ball towards the halfway line, where Yorke beats two defenders in the air and flicks it on to release Beckham. He gallops into space and coaxes a gorgeous pass around the defence towards Cole, who tries to control the ball on the stretch and watches in horror as it runs away from him and out for a goalkick. He should have belted that first time.
54 min It’s been a nervous start to the second half for United. Juventus are having much more of the ball than they did in the first half and are getting a lot of joy down their left through a combination of Zidane, Pessotto and Inzaghi.
53 min: Davids is out of the final! Davids, who has faded badly after a flying start, ploughs through Beckham and is booked. It’s his second yellow card of the knockout stages, so he’ll miss the final if Juve get there. Beckham waved an imaginary card to the referee, who was happy to oblige. In fairness, it was a bad tackle and a clear yellow card.