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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Testimonial Match


Ole: It was a special day

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted he was close to tears as he emerged from the tunnel prior to his testimonial game against Espanyol.

It was an emotional day for the Norwegian, who came on in the 68th minute and almost broke the deadlock. Fraizer Campbell did find the net, scoring the only goal of the game in the 82nd minute.

“It was a very special day,” Solskjaer told MUTV. “I just wanted to do well when I came on – I wanted to score a goal, but it didn’t happen.”

Solskjaer was only denied his dream by a breathtaking finger-tip save from Espanyol goalkeeper Alvarez Cristian.

“I’ve always said there’s no such thing as a good save – just a bad finish – but there are always exceptions to the rule," Ole joked. "I have to say, it was a decent save by the goalkeeper.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my day. I’ve been looking forward to it for almost a year, ever since I retired [in August 2007]. The last few weeks have been really, really hectic and I haven’t had time to think about anything else. But now it’s done.

“I had the best players in the world playing around me here at United. That makes it easier for a forward; you don’t have to work as hard to create chances for yourself – your team-mates are always going to create chances for you.”

Christiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney Video Clip


Manchester United Top Ten Greatest Goal from KazDaGr8 YouTube


Reds triumph in Milk Cup final

United’s youngsters turned in another classy performance against South Coast Bayern to bring the Northern Ireland Milk Cup back to Old Trafford for a record third time.

The Reds ran out 3-0 winners in teeming rain at Coleraine’s Showgrounds, courtesy of superb goals from Oliver Norwood, Nicky Ajose and Federico Macheda.

Paul McGuinness’ side went into Friday’s final in a rich vein of goalscoring form, having hit 17 goals in just four games en route to the showpiece, and were quickly in the groove again against their Californian opponents.

Only 13 minutes had elapsed when Norwood fired home a delightful free-kick and, though the Reds were always on top, nerves were only settled when Ajose chipped home a lovely second goal just before the interval.

Macheda lashed home his fifth goal of the tournament shortly after the restart, blasting clinically into the top corner from 15 yards after a fine pull-back from skipper Matthew James to end the Americans’ hopes of a comeback.

South Coast Bayern had a late goal ruled out for offside, perhaps harshly, but United were rarely troubled as they sauntered to victory and capped a highly impressive Milk Cup campaign with the ultimate prize.

Manchester United Vs. Espanyol Highlights Video Clip

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer played 25 minutes in his testimonial, as United beat Spanish side Espanyol 1-0 thanks to a goal from Fraizer Campbell.

That the youngster left it until the 82nd minute to seal the victory was ironic given Solskjaer’s penchant for late winners, as was the calm Campbell exuded in dinking the ball over goalkeeper Alvarez Cristian.

Ole, now 35, looked sharp during his time on the pitch and you can’t help but wonder what role he would have played in the 2008 European Cup final had injury not forced him to retire in August 2007. Against Espanyol he proved he still has the smarts to play at the top level.

Of course, the score on Saturday was always going to take a backseat to Solskjaer on his special day. The Norwegian, who scored 126 goals during his Old Trafford career, emerged last out of the tunnel to walk with his children through a guard of honour formed by the two teams.

Presentations of gifts followed before the match kicked off, the Reds attacking the Scoreboard End. Solskjaer didn’t start – instead he would come off the bench, as he did 150 times for United.

The match began at a sharp pace, with Espanyol winning two quick corners before the Reds clicked into gear. Carlos Tevez was his usual busy self, harrying defenders at any opportunity and keen to get touches on the ball. Nani, making his first pre-season appearance, almost sent the Argentine clear on 14 minutes with a delightful clip over the Espanyol defence.

Nani should have opened the scoring five minutes later when Paul Scholes’ cheeky chip bounced off the post and into his path. He only needed to hit the target, but pulled his shot wide of the right-hand upright. Fletcher and Tevez were similarly wayward shortly afterwards, before Espanyol had their captain, Daniel Jarque, to thank for keeping scores level.

Jarque slid in to block Scholes’ shot on the line after a wonderful, flowing move that began with Tevez skipping past Ivan de la Pena just inside the visitors’ half. In fact, Tevez was the star of the first 45 minutes and Espanyol struggled to come to grips with his speed and strength.

After the break, Nemanja Vidic headed wide from close range, but it was the Spanish side who soon set the tempo. Manager Bartolome Marquez rung the changes at half-time and it was a new-look Espanyol who emerged for the second period.

Sir Alex, too, reshuffled his deck, bringing on Tomasz Kuszczak, Wes Brown, Mikael Silvestre and Fraizer Campbell at the interval.

But it was the substitution made in the 68th minute that really brought Old Trafford to its feet. After a brief warm-up on the south touchline, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer entered the fray to a rapturous standing ovation. His first touch was met with resounding cheers, a trend that continued until the final whistle.

He may have lost a little pace since his retirement, but Ole’s footballing brain is as sharp as ever. He very rarely lost possession and made intelligent runs in search of the ball.

In a two-minute spell just after his his introduction, he very nearly found the net, first with a sumptuous left-foot half-volley that brought a spectacular finger-tip save from Alvarez Cristian, and then with a curling shot from the edge of the box that Cristian dealt with somewhat less convincingly. Two chances, two shots on target: it summed up Solskjaer perfectly.

When the fourth official held up his board indicating three minutes of added time, you couldn’t help but cast your mind back to that memorable night at the Nou Camp in May 1999. This time there were no injury-time heroics, just a cacophonous appreciation for one of the greatest men to ever pull on a United shirt.

Attendance: 68,868

United: Van der Sar (Kuszczak 46); Simpson, Ferdinand (Brown 46), Vidic (Evans 62), Evra (Silvestre 46); Gibson (O’Shea 62), Fletcher, Scholes, Nani (Campbell 46); Giggs, Tevez (Solskjaer 68)

Booked: Tevez, Scholes

Manchester United Vs. Espanyol Highlights Video Clip

Manchester United [1 - 0] Espanyol
82' [1 - 0] F. Campbell