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The BBC's Simon Brotherton
"An ultimately tedious second period"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 21:37 GMT
United win home tie from stalemate

Gerard Lopez's header gave Bosnich problems

Valencia 0-0 Man Utd

United ensured themselves a home second leg in the Champions League in a result which also guaranteed Valencia's progress into the last eight as Group B runners-up.

But while this might appear to have been comfortable for both sides, the first half was entertaining and open with each team surging forward in turn.

There could have been a couple of goals in the first half, but in the second it was a matter of keeping possession.

Sir Alex Ferguson
Stand-in strikers Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer both missed chances for the visitors.

Valencia Frenchman Jocelyn Angloma came closest with a 30-yard drive which struck Mark Bosnich's right-hand post and bounced to safety.

But after half-time the game became more cagey, and then effectively turned into a keep-ball training session with neither side prepared to take any risks.

Fortune and Angloma provided a committed first half battle at least
With the defending champions already qualified for the quarter-finals both Sheringham and Solksjaer were handed a chance to impress.

The United flanks also had an unusual look, with Quinton Fortune replacing the injured Ryan Giggs on the left, and Paul Scholes in for the suspended David Beckham on the right.

The early stages were dominated by the home side, with Bosnich having to produce a diving save from Gerard Lopez's header and Miguel Angel Angulo firing a 20-yard drive over the bar.

Claudio Lopez also scuffed one opportunity from 12 yards and Henning Berg diverted an Angloma cross inches wide.

Fortune set up Sheringham, whose header was turned away athletically by Santiago Canizares.

Paul Scholes (right) avoided a booking and a quarter-final suspension
The former England striker then set up Solksjaer but his shot from 10 yards was straight at the Spanish keeper.

Solksjaer himself then turned creator for Paul Scholes, who had a shot from 20 yards deflected just wide.

But right-back Angloma was surging forward whenever possible and was unlucky when one Valencia attack was partially cleared.

Kily Gonzalez laid the ball off for the Frenchman to shoot with enormous power and strike the post from 30 yards.

They didn't really attack in the second half, and we kept possession for a different reason: we wanted to be group winners and not give anything away

Ferguson's verdict
The second half saw United initially controlling possession without producing an end product.

At the other end Claudio Lopez was offered two free kick opportunities from just outside the box.

The first was disappointing but the second, 12 minutes after the break, led to Angloma heading straight at Bosnich from five yards.

Kily Gonzalez then produced a trademark shot after cutting in from the left but Bosnich parried it away at the near post.

Solksjaer become the first player to be booked for a tackle on Kily on the hour.

Berg and Claudio Lopez were shadow boxing by the end
The Norwegian was off the pitch within ten minutes as Jordi Cruyff was introduced into the action.

But with the scoreline meaning that both sides would progress to the quarter-finals the intensity of an entertaining first half had been lost.

Safety first was very much Valencia's priority, despite the arrival of subsitute Romanian striker Adrian Ilie.

And the final 20 minutes elapsed with virtually nothing to report in the way of goal chances or drama.


Valencia: Canizares; Angloma, Djukic, Pellegrino, Carboni; Angulo, Gerard Lopez, Farinos, Kily Gonzalez; Sanchez, Claudio Lopez, Subs: Bartual Molina, Bjorklund, Oscar, Ilie, Vlaovic, Fagiani, Gerardo.

Man Utd: Bosnich; Neville, Stam, Berg, Irwin; Scholes, Keane, Butt, Fortune, Sheringham, Solskjaer. Subs: Van Der Gouw, Cole, P. Neville, Cruyff, Yorke, Silvestre, Wallwork.

Referee: Lubos Michel (Slovakia)

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See also:

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