Manchester United will meet Liga de Quito in Sunday's Club World Cup final after a thrilling win over the Asian champions Gamba Osaka.
Rooney at the double in triumph
YOKOHAMA // Manchester United will meet Liga de Quito in Sunday's Club World Cup final after a thrilling win over the Asian champions Gamba Osaka on Thursday night. First-half goals from Nemanja Vidic and Cristiano Ronaldo were followed up in the second-half by two goals from Wayne Rooney, who came on as a substitute, and Darren Fletcher, to ensure it was a easy day for the manager Sir Alex Ferguson. United had been clear pre-match favourites, confirming the seriousness with which manager Ferguson and his players were taking the competition as they fielded a strong and experienced side
Six goals in the final 18 minutes meant most of the capacity 67,618 crowd went home delighted, but it took United 27 minutes to take the lead after Gamba started well. Their first came when Vidic rose above Yamaguchi to head a Ryan Giggs corner into the roof of the net. The lead was doubled on half-time with an almost identical goal, only this time it was Ronaldo who headed in an another deep Giggs corner. Gamba almost pulled a goal back in the 64th minute when their star player Endo struck a dipping free-kick, which was saved by Edwin Van der Sar.
But their fans got their reward in the 73rd minute when Masato Yamazaki struck from distance. However, it was no more than a consolation as United restored their two-goal lead less than a minute later. Rooney, on the pitch for only 90 seconds, controlled a pass from Fletcher before finishing in style. An unmarked Fletcher got on the score sheet himself in 77th minute, after powering home a cross from Patrice Evra.
The goals continued a minute later as Gamba's main tormentor Rooney turned a Giggs pass beyond Fujigaya. Amazingly the goals were not over, as Gamba's man of the match Endo calmly converted an 84th minute penalty, awarded after the United captain Gary Neville was judged to have handled the ball. Gamba gave the scoreline more respectability in injury time as Hashimoto netted with a fine shot. "Gamba had energy, enthusiasm and they are not short of skill," offered Ferguson. "There were a few times when I was nervous, but Edwin Van der Sar made some great saves." Gamba coach Akira Nishino said: "We should have dealt with the corners better which led to the first two goals. United's play was quite simple but it was unfortunate that we couldn't compete with them."
Asked about Sunday's opponents Liga de Quito, Ferguson said: "We watched their game last night and they are a typical South American team who can defend well. "Some of my players have not been sleeping well and we saw mistakes in the second-half tonight. Hopefully they will have recovered in time for Sunday." Meanwhile, Ferguson angrily rejected the latest speculation linking Ronaldo with a move to Real Madrid, with the Spanish media reporting that there was an agreement between the clubs. "They've got no chance. There's no agreement whatsoever between the clubs," Ferguson said. email@example.com