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www.red11.org DAILY NEWS
Date: Thu Apr 08 08:45:19 GMT+00:00 1999
Mail: barry@www.red11.org

This Issue:
1. EURO DREAM ALIVE AND WELL - FERGIE
2. Late Giggs goal leaves tie on a knife-edge
3. UNITED CAN STILL MAKE IT 
4. Giggs throws United lifeline - Guardian
5. Times: Big Match Verdicts
6. GIGGS THE SAVIOUR AS JUVE RUN UNITED RAGGED
7. United Juve comments by Terry
8. Juve game by Steve Edge
9. Independent Report  Giggs' late strike rescues United
10. Times: Zidane scheming bears fruit
11. Ferguson still optimistic after late equaliser
12. BSkyB makes promises on Man Utd 
13. COLOMBIA'S MONDRAGON TO REPLACE SCHMEICHEL??

++++++=========+++++++========+++++++++========++++++++

Daily RED Trivia  Thurs 8th April 1999:

8/4/1907: Tommy Blackstock died after collapsing during a Reserve game. A popular
 Full-back, Blackstock made his senior debut at Woolwich Arsenal in October 1903.
 He made 38 appearances, and helped United gain promotion in 1906 before his tragic death. 

8/4/1970:
 United hammer West Bromwich Albion 7-0 at Old Trafford in a Division 1
 game watched by 26,582. Bobby Charlton 2, John Fitzpatrick 2, Alan Gowling 2
 and George Best scored the goals. Team was: Stepney, Stiles, Dunne, Crerand,
 Ure, Sadler, Morgan, Fitzpatrick, Charlton, Gowling, Best.

***************

Barry Daily Comment:

Juve played very well indeed yesterday, we came back for an explosive finish!
I saw us score TWO but it was not to be, that's life but as Alex has said I believe
our dreams of making the final still to be alive. 
Even 1-1 and penalties in 2 weeks may be enough?

 - SCHMEICHEL "NEVER WRITE US OFF"
Peter Schmeichel was the least surprised Manchester United player when Ryan
Giggs scored in stoppage time to throw them a Champions' League lifeline.

Giggs' last-gasp equaliser earned United a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford and
revived their hopes of reaching the final after Juventus skipper Antonio
Conte had scored a precious away goal.

United just about deserved the goal for their pressure in the final 30
minutes and while it may have come very late, Schmeichel had never doubted
it would come.

The Danish goalkeeper has witnessed enough late shows at Old Trafford this
season to know that United are never beaten until the final whistle.

"This season we have always kept going until the end and we're used to
playing right up until the referee blows," he said.

"You're never surprised if we score because with the pressure we had, it
looked like a goal was coming. We left it late, but we deserved that goal."

Juventus midfielder Edgar Davids, who had an outstanding game and threaded
the ball through Paul Scholes' legs for Conte to score on 25 minutes, had
shared Schmeichel's hunch.

"We never feel you have done enough against English teams," said the Dutch
international.


MORE NEWS
Tuesday, April 06, 1999 15:27
United's Under-19s slipped to their second successive friendly match defeat
inside four days when they went down 3-1 to IFK Gothenburg at The Cliff on
Saturday. The Swedish side were 2-0 up by the 49th minute, but a reply from 
Paul Wheatcroft three minutes after Gothenburg's second put United back in
 with a chance. The visitors sealed the win with a third goal in the 62nd
 minute to emulate their fellow Scandinavians, IFK Start, from Norway, 
who beat Dave Williams' lads by a similar score at Littleton Road last week. 


Previous News:
 Brian Kidd Press conference, pic, real audio
  http://www.iol.ie/~redcafe/kidd.htm
Peter Schmeichel's last Season at United!
   http://www.red11.org/mufc/news/schmeichel.htm

Next games: 
ALL Result/Fixture Index:3
http://www.red11.org/mufc/fix9899z.htm

Next Games:
11 FAC Semi Arsenal at Villa Park  12.30 UK Live Sky Sports Uk
17 Sheff Wed (H) 15.00 PL
21 European Cup Semi Juventus (A) 19.45 CL
25 Leeds (A)  11.30 {am} UK PL Live Sky Sports UK 

UNITED Stats v All teams:
http://www.red11.org/mufc/stats/

*** RESULTS AND ATTENDANCES ON 06/04/99 ***

             Arsenal   1-0   Blackburn Rovers      37,762
      Leicester City   2-2   Aston Villa           20,652


***  LEAGUE TABLE AS AT 06/04/99 ***

Pos Team                  P   W   D   L   F   A   GD  Pts
---------------------------------------------------------
 1  Manchester United    31  18  10   3  69  32   37   64
 2  Arsenal              32  17  12   3  43  13   30   63
 3  Chelsea              30  16  11   3  45  23   22   59
 4  Leeds United         31  16   9   6  52  28   24   57
 5  West Ham United      32  13   8  11  34  40   -6   47
 6  Aston Villa          32  12  10  10  41  39    2   46
 7  Derby County         31  11  11   9  35  36   -1   44
 8  Liverpool            30  12   7  11  57  41   16   43
 9  Middlesbrough        31  10  13   8  42  41    1   43
10  Newcastle United     32  11   9  12  43  45   -2   42
11  Wimbledon            32  10  11  11  36  48  -12   41
12  Tottenham Hotspur    31   9  13   9  35  37   -2   40
13  Sheffield Wednesday  32  11   5  16  38  36    2   38
14  Leicester City       30   9  11  10  32  39   -7   38
15  Coventry City        32  10   7  15  34  43   -9   37
16  Charlton Athletic    31   7  10  14  34  41   -7   31
17  Blackburn Rovers     32   7  10  15  32  43  -11   31
18  Everton              32   7  10  15  26  40  -14   31
19  Southampton          32   8   6  18  28  57  -29   30
20  Nottingham Forest    32   4   9  19  30  64  -34   21


*** TEAM RESULTS - MANCHESTER UNITED - AS AT 21/03/99 ***

Date        Opposition                        Score   Pos.   Attend.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
15/08/98    Leicester City           Home     D  2-2    11    55,052
22/08/98    West Ham United          Away     D  0-0    11    26,039
09/09/98    Charlton Athletic        Home     W  4-1     9    55,147
12/09/98    Coventry City            Home     W  2-0     5    55,193
20/09/98    Arsenal                  Away     L  0-3    10    38,142
24/09/98    Liverpool                Home     W  2-0     3    55,181
03/10/98    Southampton              Away     W  3-0     2    15,251
17/10/98    Wimbledon                Home     W  5-1     2    55,265
24/10/98    Derby County             Away     D  1-1     2    30,867
31/10/98    Everton                  Away     W  4-1     2    40,079
08/11/98    Newcastle United         Home     D  0-0     3    55,174
14/11/98    Blackburn Rovers         Home     W  3-2     2    55,198
21/11/98    Sheffield Wednesday      Away     L  1-3     2    39,475
29/11/98    Leeds United             Home     W  3-2     2    55,172
05/12/98    Aston Villa              Away     D  1-1     2    39,241
12/12/98    Tottenham Hotspur        Away     D  2-2     1    36,079
16/12/98    Chelsea                  Home     D  1-1     2    55,159
19/12/98    Middlesbrough            Home     L  2-3     3    55,152
26/12/98    Nottingham Forest        Home     W  3-0     3    55,216
29/12/98    Chelsea                  Away     D  0-0     3    34,741
10/01/99    West Ham United          Home     W  4-1     3    55,180
16/01/99    Leicester City           Away     W  6-2     2    22,091
31/01/99    Charlton Athletic        Away     W  1-0     1    20,043
03/02/99    Derby County             Home     W  1-0     1    55,174
06/02/99    Nottingham Forest        Away     W  8-1     1    30,025
17/02/99    Arsenal                  Home     D  1-1     1    55,171
20/02/99    Coventry City            Away     W  1-0     1    22,596
27/02/99    Southampton              Home     W  2-1     1    55,316
13/03/99    Newcastle United         Away     W  2-1     1    36,500
21/03/99    Everton                  Home     W  3-1     1    55,182
03/04/99    Wimbledon                Away     D  1-1     1    26,121


*** TEAM RESULTS SUMMARY - MANCHESTER UNITED - AS AT 21/03/99 ***

       P   Won       Drawn     Lost      For        Against    Points
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Home   16  11 (69%)  4 (25%)   1 (6%)    38 (2.4)   16 (1.0)   37 (2.3)
Away   14  7 (50%)   5 (36%)   2 (14%)   30 (2.1)   15 (1.1)   26 (1.9)

Total  30  18 (60%)  9 (30%)   3 (10%)   68 (2.3)   31 (1.0)   63 (2.1)

                                         Averages per game in (brackets)


*** TEAM STATISTICS - MANCHESTER UNITED - AS AT 21/03/99 ***

AVERAGE HOME ATTENDANCE:  55,183
HIGHEST HOME ATTENDANCE: 27/02/99 - Southampton (55,316)
LOWEST HOME ATTENDANCE:  15/08/98 - Leicester City (55,052)
BEST WIN:                06/02/99 - Nottingham Forest (8-1)
HEAVIEST DEFEAT:         20/09/98 - Arsenal (0-3)
BEST HOME WIN:           17/10/98 - Wimbledon (5-1)
HEAVIEST HOME DEFEAT:    19/12/98 - Middlesbrough (2-3)
BEST AWAY WIN:           06/02/99 - Nottingham Forest (8-1)
HEAVIEST AWAY DEFEAT:    20/09/98 - Arsenal (0-3)

*****
  
Champions League:
Group D         P  W  D  L  F  A   Pts
Bayern Munich   6  3  2  1  9  6  11   
Man United      6  2  4  0 20 11  10
Barcelona       6  2  2  2 11  9   8    
Brondby         6  1  0  5  4 18   3   

Dec  9 BrÝndby         0-2  Barcelona
Dec  9 Man Utd         1-1  Bayern Munich

	******

CHAMPIONS' LEAGUE QUARTER-FINALS
 Manchester Utd  2 v 0  Inter Milan
 Real Madrid     1 v 1  Dynamo Kiev
 Juventus        2 v 1  Olympiakos
 Bayern Munich   2 v 0  Kaiserslautern

**DYNAMO KIEV      2 v 0  REAL MADRID         (Agg:3-1)
FC KAISERSLAUTERN  0 v 4  **BAYERN MUNICH     (Agg:0-6)
INTERNAZIONALE FC  1 v 1  **MANCHESTER UNITED (Agg:1-3)
OLYMPIAKOS         1 v 1  **JUVENTUS          (Agg:2-3)

Semi Final 2nd legs to be played  21st April
Manchester United v Juventus  [1-1]
Bayern Munchen v Dynamo Kiev  [3-3]

++++++=========+++++++========+++++++++========++++++++


More pics from OT + match report click on pic

Subject: EURO DREAM ALIVE AND WELL - FERGIE By Frank Malley, PA Chief Sports Writer Alex Ferguson claimed his European Cup dream was still alive and well despite Manchester United's 1-1 semi-final, first-leg draw with Juventus at Old Trafford. Ryan Giggs earned Ferguson a lifeline with an injury time equaliser after Antonio Conte had given the Italians a vital away goal in the first half. "I know Juventus will feel they are favourites but something tells me we are going to win," said a defiant Ferguson. "They worked as hard as they could work and ran their legs off, but I believe we won't be as exposed in Turin. "Juventus can't play for nil-nils, they can't do it. It's not in their nature, not in their culture. That's the best they've played for 45 minute that I've seen. "Deschamps is a World Cup winner, so is Zidane, but they played for pride. Everyone of them worked their stripes off. It's a great result for them, but they may regret us scoring so late." Ferguson claimed United should have had a penalty when Mark Iuliano blocked a Giggs shot with his hand. But the Manchester United boss accepted that an 86th minute 'goal' scored by Teddy Sheringham was offside though he insisted the "linesman flagged tomorrow it was so late". Ferguson praised Spanish referee Manuel Diaz Vega: "The referee was outstanding," he said. "He let the game flow. There was a lot of tackles and fouls but no mistakes and no cheating." Ferguson saluted the overall standard of a pulsating match which always looked like edging the way of the Italians. "It was a fantastic game of football," said Ferguson. "Top level stuff. Our wide players played too far forward in the first half, and we always seemed to be two against three in midfield. It was an uphill fight for us to get the ball back. "Our midfield players were better in the second half, though, and we could have won the game. "They defended very well, but we had three or four chances in the second half. They had two counterattacks, but other than that, didn't really have any chance at goal." Juventus coach Carlo Ancelotti was confident that his side could finish the job in Turin. "We have a small advantage and hope to take advantage of that," he said. "We created a lot of difficulties for Manchester United and could have done better than score just one goal, but in the final phase of the game, we were under pressure." Ancelotti said they had subdued David Beckham and Giggs for large periods and predicted that if they could do the same in Turin, they would reach their fourth consecutive final. "We were able to cut off the service to Yorke and Cole," he added. "So apart from long balls from Schmeichel, United's front men got very little service. "We know in Turin it will be hard but it will also be hard for them. I think it was important that we didn't leave any space for them on the wing."
More pics from OT + match report click on pic

Subject: Late Giggs goal leaves tie on a knife-edge By Mike Collett MANCHESTER, England, April 7 - A last-gasp equaliser from Ryan Giggs gave Manchester United a 1-1 draw with Juventus at Old Trafford on Wednesday and kept their European Cup semifinal on a knife-edge. Juventus, weathering a late United storm which saw a Teddy Sheringham header disallowed for offside with four minutes to play, appeared to have done enough to win a pulsating first-leg clash. The Italians had seized the lead through Antonio Conte's 25th minute goal which he scored after finding time and space in the heart of United's defence. But with United seemingly heading for defeat for the first time in 21 cup and league matches since December, they launched one last desperate attack which ended with Giggs crashing the ball into the roof of the net from close range after the Juve defence failed to clear a back-header from Paul Scholes. In the end the result was a fair reflection of a match which Juventus, looking for a fourth successive appearance in the European Cup final, dominated for the first half but which increasingly tilted United's way as the second half developed. With greater accuracy in front of goal, Juventus would have established an emphatic lead by halftime. With Edgar Davids dominating the midfield alongside Zinedine Zidane, who looked to be fully fit despite a heavily-strapped right thigh, Juventus dictated the pace of the game and always looked more composed and dangerous coming forward whereas United appeared hurried and flustered. After only two minutes Zidane tried to chip Peter Schmeichel from 20 metres and 15 minutes later Filippo Inzaghi tested the giant Dane's reflexes with a powerful shot on the turn that Schmeichel saved well. Then after Conte had put Juve ahead -- scoring against Schmeichel for the second time in 11 days after beating him with a header when Italy played Denmark in Copenhagen on March 27 -- defender Gianluca Pessotto, marauding unmarked in open space wide on the left, shot high and wide with only Schmeichel to beat after 37 minutes. Zidane then set Inzaghi up with a clear scoring chance in stoppage time at the end of the half, but after again escaping from United's tormented defenders, he put his shot the wrong side of Schmeichel's left-hand post from close range. United's best chances in what was a disappointing first half came when David Beckham went close with a 23rd minute free-kick and Andy Cole headed over the bar seven minutes later. United replaced Henning Berg with Ronny Johnsen in the centre of their defence after the break and began to make more impression. They threatened to score four times in the opening 15 minutes of the second half through Cole, twice, Scholes and Giggs, who forced Peruzzi into his one real save of the night from his 58th minute glancing header. Until United lifted their tempo even more in the last 15 minutes, Juventus never really looked like conceding a goal, and if Zidane had not sent a hurried shot across goal late in the game, the Italians would have taken an almost unbeatable lead home for the return leg in two weeks' time. As it is, they will be without defender Zoran Mirkovic, suspended after picking up a second yellow card, and know that they face a huge battle to overcome the English team.
More pics from OT + match report click on pic

Subject: UNITED CAN STILL MAKE IT RYAN GIGGS put a smile back on his manager Alex Ferguson's face and hope in his heart after smashing home a last-gasp equaliser against Juventus at Old Trafford last night. The Manchester United striker's injury time goal salvaged a draw which for most of the night had seemed beyond his side's reach as the Italians from Turin dominated the game: "We've still got a great chance," grinned Ferguson on the final whistle. "But it really looked like we weren't going to get back into this game." True enough, but Giggs' late strike finally cancelled out Paolo Conte's textbook first half goal to set up an enthralling tie in Turin in two weeks' time. And while Fergie's optimism might at first sound a touch naive given Juve's complete dominance of all but the last 10 minutes of the game, on reflection the United manager has every right to look forward to the return match with confidence. If nothing else, then United surely can't play this badly again. The team that has rightly earned so much praise for its attacking invention and flair this season looked a pale shadow of its usual self for almost the entire game. Yorke, Cole, Beckham and Giggs all turned in performances they will not be proud of, and with Roy Keane and Paul Scholes struggling to compete with an on-song Juventus midfield duo of Zinedine Zidane and the outstanding Edgar Davids, it's to United's credit that they managed to stay in touch with their opponents at all. To draw - albeit at home - with such an experienced side as Juve after playing this poorly will give Ferguson confidence that they really can go on to complete the job in Italy. United's best option, of course, has to be to play their natural game. At their best they are a devastating attacking side with a competent defence, so to believe they can go to Juventus and look to win the tie by stealing a goal on the break will be tactical suicide. It will also suit Juventus down to the ground. But as Fergie is so keen to remind us, United can always score - if they give themselves the opportunity to do so by playing their natural game and looking to attack whenever they can. And history is on Unitedís side too. When Sir Matt Busbyís legendary 1968 side won the competition they disposed of Real Madrid in the semi finals after drawing the first leg at home 1-1, then going on to make the final on the away goals rule after a 3-3 draw in Spain. "Juventus gave us a really hard time, especially in the first half," said Ferguson. "They were absolutely outstanding." True, but United can and will play much better than this, which means that the tie is now finely, perfectly balanced. If United are canny, calm and play to their strengths, then they still have every chance.
More pics from OT + match report click on pic

Subject: Giggs throws United lifeline - Guardian Last-gasp strike keeps the home fires burning. David Lacey reports from Old Trafford A goal from Ryan Giggs in injury-time last night gave Manchester United reason to hope when they travel to Turin for the second leg in a fortnight. They are fortunate to have any at all. Giggs' strike came just as United were pondering a substandard performance that had left Juventus with a priceless away goal and most of the plaudits. But, just as the referee was checking the final seconds David Beckham crossed from the right, Teddy Sheringham nodded on and Giggs hooked in United's lifeline. Until then, Juve had held most if not all of the cards. They played their trump when Antonio Conte beat Peter Schmeichel as Zinedine Zidane and Edgar Davids pulled United's defence apart at their leisure. After half-time the English champions attacked with greater conviction and Giggs drove in shot which struck Mark Iuliano on the hand, but no penalty was given. Clearly United wanted a win last night but they could ill-afford one of the pyrrhic kind. Juventus had made a habit of scoring here; now United needed to offer them a nought for their discomfort. In other words it was no time for another Barcelona, with whom United had twice drawn 3-3 in the group matches. Nor did they wish to repeat their 3-2 defeat of Juventus 18 months earlier. Away goals were too important for melodramatics. With this in mind Roy Keane kept a close watch on Zidane from the outset. The Frenchman might be playing with his right knee heavily strapped but a even lame Zidane still presented a bigger threat than most. Yet he was restricted in his movements, tending to play close to Filippo Inzaghi, the lone striker, rather than roam with his usual freedom. When he did move deep, however, his ability to pick out colleagues with long passes was undiminished. Davids and Didier Deschamps, moreover, were quick to find space behind United's midfield when Keane and Paul Scholes pushed forward. At the back Juventus were less sure. Misdirected passes from Paolo Montero caused them unnecessary angst in the opening quarter-hour and when Keane's right foot delivered a telling centre from the left Andy Cole was unchallenged as he rose to head wide. At this level such opportunities should not go to waste. Fortunately for United Juventus proved no less profligate when Inzaghi stole in at the far post but snatched at the ball, allowing Schmeichel to block his shot. Nevertheless, Juventus were taking command of the play between the penalty areas and outmanouevring United with composed, accurate passing and intuitive running off the ball. Angelo Di Livio in particular was fin-ding a lot of space between Gary Neville and David Beckham on the United right. In the 25th minute a sweet, neat passing movement exposed the flatness of their defence and Juventus were in front. Di Livio found Zidane who set up Davids for a short through pass which found Conte slipping past Jaap Stam and Henning Berg to beat Schmeichel from close range. United redoubled their efforts to get at Juventus down the flanks, especially on the left from where Giggs produced a centre on the half-hour which found Cole reaching the ball a fraction ahead of Angelo Peruzzi only to nod into the crowd. United's increasing desperation threatened to leave them even more open at the back. Nine minutes before half-time Zidane and Davids conspired to find Angelo Pessotto, the left-back, advancing unchallenged into the United penalty area. He shot over but United still needed to heed the war-ning. They were thankful to come off at half-time still only one goal behind, and had Inzaghi not shot wide as he raced in late to meet Zidane's low cross in the 45th minute the contest would have been all but over. United had to establish regular lines of communication between their midfield and Dwight Yorke, who had been isolated in the first half as Juventus closed down the space round him. But to do this they needed to get Keane and Paul Scholes forward more often, no easy business with Zidane and Davids running so much of the game. Nine minutes after half-time a through ball from Scholes did give Cole an opportunity to beat the defence for pace but again his finishing was off target. From Beckham's corner on the left Giggs appeared at the near post for a glancing header which Peruzzi, flinging up an arm, deflected to safety. Manchester Utd (4-4-2): Schmeichel; G Neville, Berg (Johnsen, h-t), Stam, Irwin; Beckham, Keane, Scholes, Giggs; Yorke (Sheringham, 80mins), Cole. Juventus (4-4-1-1): Peruzzi; Mirkovic, Iuliano, Montero, Pessotto; Conte, Deschamps, Davids, Di Livio; Zidane; Inzaghi (Esnaider, 88). Referee: M Diaz Vega (Spain).
More pics from OT + match report click on pic

Subject: Times: Big Match Verdicts Big match verdicts JUVENTUS had not even taken off on the flight back to Turin before Alex Ferguson was attempting to undermine Italian confidence last night. "They may regret us scoring so late," the Manchester United manager said with a gravitas that was meant to spread foreboding - but he will need to do better than that. While the Italian side's spirits were undoubtedly damaged by Ryan Giggs's injury-time goal, Carlo Ancelotti, the Juventus coach, looked happy at his night's work. "We could have killed them off in the first half, so that is my biggest regret," he said. "I would have accepted a 1-1 draw until I saw the way the first half went. "We neutralised Beckham and Giggs very well, so, apart from long balls from the goalkeeper, there was very little service to the front two. We didn't leave any space free on the wings and Zidane's position caused them problems. We have a small advantage now and a 1-1 draw will help to sell all the tickets in the Stadio Delle Alpi." A goalless draw will be enough to see Juventus through to their fourth consecutive final, but Ferguson believes the Italians may be undone by their own adventurousness. "You ask your Italian friends and they will tell you that playing for a 0-0 is not in the Juventus nature. They will go for the win." That, he hopes, will leave spaces for his side to exploit, but he knows that they will have to equal the Juventus spirit. "They had two World Cup winners out there, but every one of them worked their tripes off," Ferguson said. "It was a fantastic game of football, top-level stuff with no nastiness, no cheating. The referee was excellent and we must hope we get one that good in Turin."
More pics from OT + match report click on pic

Subject: GIGGS THE SAVIOUR AS JUVE RUN UNITED RAGGED Manchester United 1 Juventus 1 IT TOOK over 70 minutes for Manchester United to start playing last night, but when they did a Ryan Giggs goal kept their European dream alive. The brutal truth is that should Alex Fergusonís team go on to lift the Champions League trophy now they will know that in the first half especially they were out-played, and at times out-classed. Juventus will feel they should have put the tie beyond doubt before the United revival. As it was, the flying winger blasted the ball high into the Juventus net in the 91st on a night of tension at the Theatre of Dreams. Antonio Conte had given the visitors a first-half strike which had turned Old Trafford into a jangling bag of nerves. Even with the equaliser, Ferguson's chances of emulating Matt Busby's 1968 heroes is hanging by a thread for this season. The away goal gives United a huge task in Turin in a fortnight's time. They will claim they had more chances. And it's true they had to endure the agony of seeing an 86th-minute 'goal' from Teddy Sheringham ruled out for offside. They saw Italian goalkeeper Angelo Peruzzi save brilliantly from a last-minute Paul Scholes header. And for much of the second half watched as the ball fizzed like a pinball around the Juventus penalty area. But, quite frankly, this was one European match too far for United. A match which, even with their strongest and fittest team, proved that they were just a notch below eclipsing sides at the very highest level. For much of the time, they were out-thought, out-foxed, out-skilled by an Italian side supposed to be reeling from their own internal problems. Rubbish. Juventus were bidding to become the first team to reach four consecutive finals since the great Real Madrid side 40 years ago. And with players of the class of Frenchman Zinedine Zidane and Dutchman Edgar Davids controlling large chunks of this game they threatened to make United's faces take on the colour of their shirts. In truth, Juventus had enough clear chances to make the second leg a formality and at times their superiority was embarrassing. United began brightly enough as befitted their reputation as the most attacking side in the competition. But anyone who thought Juventus would be content to sit back and soak up the pressure was mistaken. From the first few minutes, it was clear that this Juventus side were a much better organised and potent proposition than United's last victims, Inter Milan. Their intention was clear. They had come for an away goal, and the positive way in which Zidane, the world's best player, and Davids set about their work, it always looked as if they would be rewarded. Indeed, after early sparring, United received their first serious warning on 15 minutes when an exquisite ball over the defence landed at the feet of Filippo Inzaghi in acres of space inside United's penalty area. The Italian striker spun sweetly before firing a low, left-foot shot which goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel was happy to turn away for a corner. The Italians were too often swifter to the ball, more composed in possession and technically more adept. They might be seventh in Serie A, have lost to bottom club Empoli at the weekend, still reeling from the departure of coach Marcello Lippi and just feeling their way under new coach Carlo Ancelotti but they oozed class. Where the Inter Milan side which United defeated last month were a side of talented individuals, this Juventus side was a much more powerful collective unit. Yes, Beckham went close with a 20-yard free kick after Andy Cole had been brought down by Didier Deschamps, but when the away goal came, it was just reward for Juventus's adventure. It arrived in the 25th minute and owed as much to the flat-footed nature of United's defence as to the alert thinking of Davids - Juve's most dangerous midfield man. Zidane had teased the United defence on the edge of the area and when he lost possession, the ball squirted to Davids who slid a superbly-precise ball into the path of Antonio Conte. With Henning Berg and Jaap Stam mere spectators, the Italian midfielder swivelled and struck a sweet, left-foot shot past Schmeichel. A stunned silence gripped the stadium, save for a small black and white enclave of 3,000 Italian supporters. The message was clear - this was going to be a tough night. It could have been even worse for United. For after they had tried to respond with a wayward Cole header and a long-range effort from Roy Keane, Juventus should have stretched their lead. First Gianluca Pessotto was put in by the irrepressible Davids, and Schmeichel could only watch in agony as the Italian's curling shot sailed past the post. And then seconds before the interval, Zidane, racing down the right, crossed dangerously, only for Inzaghi to stab his shot wide when he should have done better. Ferguson's response was to replace Berg with the speedier Ronny Johnsen at half time - but the feeling was growing that this was not going to be United's night. No-one protects a 1-0 scoreline quite like Italians - but give United credit, they surged forward with courage in relentless pursuit of the equaliser. At times it looked like Manchester's version of the Light Brigade. Paul Scholes put Cole through with an incisive 40-yard ball only for the United striker to blast his shot high and wide. A long-range Scholes effort went wide, and Giggs' header from a swirling Beckham corner brought an agile save from Italian 'keeper Peruzzi. No, you couldn't fault the quantity of United's attacking effort, it was the quality at the highest level which left much to be desired. Too often Cole proved that he does, as Glenn Hoddle once famously pointed out, need a hatful of chances to get one on target, let alone score. In the 79th minute, Ferguson took off the ineffective Dwight Yorke and replaced him with Teddy Sheringham in a desperate last throw for the equaliser. Suddenly United were even more eager, more desperate. Soon a Keane shot was deflected lightly off Sheringham into the Juve net. The players celebrated, the crowd were in raptures - but the flag had gone up. It was far from clear if it was offside, and the flag was certainly late. But while the referee could see the ball had hit Sheringham, the linesman may have thought the ball had flown clean in and not raised his flag until informed of the strikerís intervention. Whatever, it seemed another indication that it was not to be Unitedís night. Cole soon went close but it seemed it wasn't to be - until deep into injury time. Beckham hooked the ball back from the dead-ball line, a cluster of heads rose to compete for it, and this time it fell to Giggs all alone and with time to crash his left-foot shot into the roof of the net. Suddenly, the place was jumping with sheer relief. United had got what their persistence - if not their first half showing - deserved, and what their supporters, in truth, had despaired of - an equaliser. And for a fortnight, at least, the Ferguson dream is alive and well. LAST NIGHTíS TEAMS - PLAYER BY PLAYER Manchester United Peter Schmeichel Saved United on a number of occasions when he was left unprotected by his defence. 8/10 Gary Neville The England defender will not look back at his performance in this game with much delight. 6 Denis Irwin Solid game from the Irishman who tried to get forward whenever he could. 7 Jaap Stam As ever the Dutchman was the rock of the United defence. 7 Henning Berg Did not have the best of times before he was replaced by Ronny Johnsen at half-time. 6 Roy Keane Gave everything as ever, but could not control the midfield area for United. 7 Paul Scholes England's hat-trick hero got into the game after a quiet start and could have scored twice towards the end. 7 David Beckham Had one or two moments, but he did not exert anywhere near the same influence as he did against Inter Milan. 6 Ryan Giggs Handed United a lifeline with his equaliser in stoppage time. 7 Dwight Yorke Could not get United going up front because of the close attention of Mark Iuliano. 6 Andy Cole Struggled to cope with the class of Juventus' and their tight marking. 6 Substitutes: Ronny Johnsen (for Berg, 45 minutes) Shored up the defence and had a headed chance which he nodded over the bar. 6 Teddy Sheringham (for Yorke, 79 minutes) Thought he had headed United level, but his effort was disallowed for offside. 7 Juventus Angelo Peruzzi Did not have that much to do until the end when he made some fine saves. But was caught out for the goal. 6 Zoran Mirkovic Fine display, but picked up a booking which rules him out of the return. 7 Paolo Montero Commanding performance from the Uruguayan at the heart of the Juve defence. 7 Mark Iuliano Handled Dwight Yorke brilliantly and hardly gave him a kick of the ball. 8 Gianluca Pessotto A solid display from the full back. 7 Angelo Di Livio Did well down the left flank and threatened the United goal once or twice. 7 Antonio Conte Juve's captain popped up with the all-important away goal for his side. 7 Didier Deschamps Dubbed a 'water carrier' by Eric Cantona, the Frenchman did his bit in the Juve midfield. 7 Edgar Davids Outstanding, particularly in the first half, in the middle of the park. 8 Zinedine Zidane Despite his suspect knee he still helped run the show for Juventus. 8 Filippo Inzaghi Dived around a lot, but led Juve's line well and was a constant threat. 7 Substitutes: Ciro Ferrara (for Montero, 68 minutes) The highly-experienced defender dug in when he came on. 6 Alessio Tacchinardi (for Di Livio, 77 minutes) Like Ferrara he did his bit for the Juve cause when he came on. 6 Juan Esnaider (for Inzaghi, 87 minutes, no rating) The striker's main contribution was to waste some valuable seconds for the visitors when he came on. Referee Manuel Diaz Vega (Spain) Whistle-happy, interrupting play too often, but rightly kept his cards in his pocket for almost the whole 90 minutes. 7
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Subject: United Juve comments by Terry I suppose it was inevitable that we wouldn't win as soon as Fergie called the Juve coach Ancelotti 'young and inexperienced' and then suggested we'd probably score three goals. As it turned out, we were dominated for two-thirds of the game and were probably lucky to get a draw. It's pretty easy to see why Fergie admires Zidane. He played a brilliant game till he tired in the last 15 or 20 minutes dominating the midfield along with Davids. The game started well for us. That is, I enjoyed the first 60 seconds. But, for the rest of the half, it was downhill all the way as Juve took over. They out-thought and out-played us in that first half though we didn't do ourselves any favours with some sloppy defending. They took their goal well, Zidane and Davids again orchestrating those around them. Davids even nutmegged Scholsie to lay on a perfect pass for Conte to score. Not much chance for Schmikes with that one though he did save us on a couple of other occasions. We did better in the second half and after 20 minutes or so started to look like we might score. Chances were at last created for Cole, Scholes and Giggs, who brought off a fine save from Peruzzi. On 74 minutes the ref, who otherwise had a good game, missed a handball in the Juve penalty area. But we got a second chance immediately when the ball fell to Scholsie, who missed from close range. He was to do that again later with his head. There were too many back passes to Schmikes, who would then boot the ball upfield into the grateful arms of the Juve defence. When we built up play steadily from the back, we tended to look better. Teddy came on with about 10 minutes left in place of a very disappointing Yorke. Yorkie didn't flash too many smiles tonight. The arrival of Teddy appeared to be the end of the road but, in fact, he brought some urgency to the proceedings. On 86 minutes Teddy had the ball in the net ... tomorrow's headlines flashed before his eyes: 'Super Ted Saves Reds' ... but the linesman raised his flag for offside. The TV replays didn't provide conclusive evidence and it looked to be a harsh decision. We all thought Juve had used up all their luck escaping from their group and then sneaking into the semis but, no, they've apparently still got some left. United were pressing continuously now and as we moved into injury time, we scored. Becks lobbed the ball speculatively over his head into the area, a mass of players went for it (Teddy, I think, won it) and the ball fell nicely for Giggs to smash it into the roof of the net from close range. Giggsy had been pretty prominent in the final 20 minutes of the game but had done little in the preceding 70 minutes. With only a couple of minutes left, the goal came too late to give us the momentum to get a second. It was a cruel goal, Giggsy. Now we have to continue hoping even though a scoreless draw would be enough to take Juve through. I suppose with our record away from home in this season's Champions League there is no reason at all why we can't score a couple in Turin. The big question is: can we stop Juve scoring? Recent evidence would suggest we can't. Juve have the measure of us, there's no question about it. And on Sunday, in the FA Cup, we play another team who also appear to have the measure of us. One wonders what effect tonight's disappointment will have on the team. Who knows, tonight's poor performance, coupled with all the taunts of 'Just not good enough' from the press and delighted ABUs between now and Sunday might just be all the incentive we need to get the treble back on the tracks. True, we're not feeling very well tonight, but we ain't dead yet. _____________ Terry Saudi
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Subject: Juve game by Steve Edge Another intense match for the Reds today. Zidane and Davids were awesome in the first half, and United did not play well at all. Having said that, I thought we were starting to settle down a bit after the first 15 minutes, and Becks' free kick looked to be going in for sure. I can't believe it missed! The next thing, Juve scored and you could see the heads drop a bit after that. Everybody knows that an away goal is usually fatal, and it was a bit like Dortmund again. Unlike that semi final two years ago, United didn't create a string of chances until very late in the game. And the catalyst for our mini-recovery was none other than Teddy Sheringham, the man we all love to hate. He has been accused of being lazy and uncommitted in the past. He looked very committed to me in those 10 minutes, and it was his persistence - along with Beckham's - which led to the equalizing goal. I thought the officials had a pretty good game up until the penalty incident. It really should have been a penalty. Iuliano was lucky not to get a red card, it was so blatant. Then the disallowed goal threatened to put the final nail in our coffin. Was Teddy offside? Impossible to tell from the TV, since the defender nearest the camera was out of the picture when Keano shot the ball. Fergie thought the referee's assistant was late putting the flag up. Not late enough, IMHO. Tomorrow morning would have been a better time to flag for offside on that one! I thought United were too respectful of Juventus in the first half. This was partly dictated by the way Juve played, but United defnitely finished the game in the ascendancy. Again, this is partly because Juve sat back. If you're only as good as you're allowed to be then a draw would seem a fair result. Both teams could have won it. I haven't seen the final statistics, but I can recall quite a few more chances for United than for Juve. Schmikes was excellent for the most part - 7 Gary Neville wasn't very good, but refused to give up - 6 Stam was magnificent - 8 Berg was poor - 5 Johnsen (Berg's replacement at half time) was very good - 7 Irwin was rock steady, as ever - 7 Beckham kept plugging away - 7 Scholes ditto - 7 Keane was brilliant - 9 Giggs started slowly but was flying at the end - 7 Cole led the line well - 7 Yorke was anonymous - 5 Sheringham only played 10 minutes, but did very well in all of them! - 8 Oh, what the hell. They were all Red-shirted heroes, almost martyrs, today. Still waffling on ... Cole hasn't scored for four games, Yorke hasn't scored for five. What's happening? Now we turn our attention to the FA Cup, and to last year's tormentors-in-chief, Arsenal. This is shaping up to be a pivotal game for United. Win it and we just might win the lot. Lose it, and we could end up with nowt. Worried? Not me. This is what following United is all about. Bring 'em all on. It's do or die time again for the Reds. Steve Edge Vancouver Red P.S. After the game today I was staggering around the shops - well, reeling a bit from 3 pints of Kilkenny at lunchtime! - with "We'll keep the Red flag flying high" ringing in my ears. Quite an emotional song, innit?
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Subject: Independent Report Giggs' late strike rescues United Manchester United ...1 Juventus ...1 A last-minute goal from Ryan Giggs enabled Manchester United to keep their Champions' Cup dream alive after another pulsating European match at Old Trafford last night. By Glenn Moore Behind to a 25th-minute goal from Antonio Conte, and totally outplayed, United gradually regained their fire to draw level just as it seemed this semi-final first leg would end in defeat. Now they must become the first English team to win in Turin in 18 years ifthey are to reach next month's final in Barcelona. United are bidding to reach their second final, 31 years after their last appearance, the Wembley victory over Benfica. For Juventus the target is a fourth successive final and their seventh in all. If that statistic underlined their pedigree, another illustrated United's need for a home win. English clubs may have been the dominant force in Europe over much of the last three decades but only once, in 33 seasons of meetings, have Juventus lost to an English team at home. That defeat, to a goal by Arsenal's Paul Vaessen in 1980-81, is the solitary blot on a record of eight victories and two draws. United had to push forward but keep the back door locked. The first part came naturally, the second was likely to rely heavily on the revived form of Peter Schmeichel and the recovered fitness of Jaap Stam. The Dane, indeed, came to their rescue after a quarter of an hour, saving brilliantly low to his right from Filippo Inzaghi after the striker had turned Henning Berg. Ten minutes later, however, he was helpless after a bewitching spell of interplay opened United's defence up. Angelo Di Livio, on the left flank, bamboozled two defenders with a clever back-heel. As they scurried to recover Zinedine Zidane fed Edgar Davids, who slipped a pass through a thicket of legs to Conte. The Juventus captain,who had scored against Schmeichel for Italy last week, repeated the trick. Juve exulted and, as United briefly wobbled, they almost snatched a second, Zidane and Davids engineering a break which only ended when Conte, ambitiously, shot instead of pulling the ball back to Zidane. And what of United in this opening half hour? They had begun somewhat cautiously. Dwight Yorke almost released Paul Scholes with a neat flick, but Mark Iuliano read it; then Andy Cole won a free-kick from Paolo Montero, but David Beckham put it wide. For the most part, however, Juventus's defenders were so quick in thought and deed they stifled United and their flicks and tricks, so fundamental to their game, went astray. Instead Zidane was the key influence. Though strapped up like an Egyptian mummy he twisted, tackled and, most of all, passed with verve and imagination. With Davids and Deschamps in support Juve's midfield easily eclipsed United's famous four, despite the endeavours of Keane. Just briefly, soon after the goal, did United threaten in the first period. Cole flashed a near-post header narrowly wide from Giggs' cross then a Keane shot, from 20 yards, skimmed just over the bar. The half-time address would have been one of the most important in Ferguson's career but, whatever he said, it took time to sink in, for United began the second period as tentatively as they had ended the first. Slowly, however, they created a series of half-chances. Ronny Johnsen, on for Berg, headed over from a Beckham free-kick while Cole, twice, and Scholes shot over. Still, almost an hour had passed before Angelo Peruzzi was finally tested, flinging himself up to palm away a sharp near-post header from Giggs following a Beckham corner. Soon afterwards Keane brought the keeper to his knees with a strong shot and, though Yorke and Cole were still playing like strangers, the United faithful began to hope again. With 16 minutes left United's pressure almost brought reward. Cole, on the left, tricked his way to the byline before whipping in a low cross. There was a blur of shirts and legs as each side fought for a clear strike at the ball, to shoot for goal or thrash to safety. It fell to Giggs to shoot, the ball was blocked, possibly by a hand, then Scholes shot, and the ball flew wide. More appeals rent the air as another cross caused similar confusion. Manuel Diaz Vega also waved them away. In a final fling Teddy Sheringham, the Lord Lucan of Old Trafford, was thrown into the fray. He thought he had gained an equaliser when, with four minutes left, he steered Keane's shot past Peruzzi with a flying header. The linesman thought otherwise but United's sense of injustice fired them anew and, after Peruzzi had stopped a Scholes header on the line, the bombardment bore fruit when Giggs thrashed a loose ball from a Beckham cross into the net. Manchester United (4-4-2): Schmeichel; G Neville, Stam, Berg (Johnsen, h-t), Irwin; Beckham, Keane, Scholes, Giggs; Cole, Yorke (Sheringham, 78). Substitutes not used: Van der Gouw (gk), Butt, P Neville, Blomqvist, Solskjaer. Juventus (4-4-1-1): Peruzzi; Mirkovic, Iuliano, Montero (Ferrara, 68), Pessotto; Conte, Deschamps, Davids, Di Livio (Tacchinardi, 77); Zidane; Inzaghi (Esnaider, 88). Substitutes not used: Rampulla (gk), Birindelli, Amoruso, Tudor. Referee: M Diaz Vega (Spain).
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Subject: Times: Zidane scheming bears fruit ALEX FERGUSON had warned the world before about these dark, scheming Italians, but no one thought they would stoop to tactics as low as this. An extra man in midfield? Machiavelli himself never hatched a plot so dastardly. The bizarre thing was that it was no surprise at all. If Zinedine Zidane playing behind Filippo Inzaghi was on the back page of The Times yesterday, it can hardly have come as a surprise to the Manchester United coaches. Yet they still opted to detail Roy Keane to pick up the world player of the year, with the knock-on effect that Paul Scholes found himself swamped by Deschamps and Davids. It was like Lennox Lewis walking into the ring and finding Mike Tyson limbering up as tag partner to Evander Holyfield and you feared from the start that United would walk into a knockout punch. Ferguson had claimed that he never trusts what an Italian puts under the sauce and his use of Keane last night as an auxiliary defender, in the first half at least, suggested that he does not believe what a Frenchman hides under his bandage. Zidane's right knee was so trussed up that you wondered if the strapping was holding his leg together, but United feared that he would be fit enough to spread havoc, if not at his peerless best. They judged it about right. Although restricted in his movement, as anyone would be with half a mile of tape around his knee, Zidane was far from the solitary ghost that Ronaldo had been in the San Siro when United had last found themselves facing one of the best footballers alive. The Brazilian realised he was not up to the task and disappeared. The Frenchman was last seen hurling himself into Keane. Enough said. He had not played for almost a month and there were occasional signs to prove that his World Cup hangover has lasted longer than most. When the ball bounced five yards off his shin, you had to rewind the tape to check if it was true. It was like watching Nick Faldo shank one into the bushes or Tim Henman slicing his forehand over the fence. But it was a rare mistake from a player who would have been seeking treatment back in Turin if this had not been a European Cup semi-final. If this is what he can do with one leg, you fear what he will do with two. By the time that he tired in the second half, freeing Keane to gamble farther forward, Zidane was leaving most of the work to Deschamps, his countryman, and the magnificent Davids, in particular. The Holland international, notoriously arrogant, was once asked what it was like playing with Del Piero. "Ask him what it's like playing with Davids," was his typically haughty reply - but at least he has the talents to justify his conceit. Even Davids was calling for reinforcements in the second half as United pushed the Italians deep into their own half, but the damage had already been done by Antonio Conte's first half-goal and Ferguson must now work out how to handle Zidane in the next leg. It is just as well that he has two weeks. Ronny Johnsen in place of Henning Berg, who struggled in the first half, would be a start and Ferguson will also expect more from Giggs and Beckham in support of his central midfield pair. "The two wide players were too far forward," he said, "which meant there was two against three with Zidane in that area. Every time we made a mistake, it was an uphill fight." He will know, however, that Zidane will be closer to full fitness for the second leg, when Juventus will attempt to protect their precious away goal. "In a game like this, you have to make sacrifices," Zidane had said and while it might have been painful, he will feel it was worth it.
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Subject: Ferguson still optimistic after late equaliser By Mike Collett MANCHESTER, England, April 7 (Reuters) - Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said that although Juventus would consider themselves favourites to win their European Cup semifinal after drawing the first leg 1-1 at Old Trafford on Wednesday, he was convinced his team would still reach the final. "Something tells me we are going to win it," he said after watching Ryan Giggs blast in a dramatic last-minute equaliser. "It is in the nature of our club to go through this kind of torture, so the only relief we can get is by winning it," he added. Whether he was referring to the tie -- or the club's fruitless 31 year struggle to reach a second European Cup final -- was not entirely clear, but what was unmistakable was his belief in his side after they salvaged a draw from what looked like a certain home defeat. "There is no doubt we played very poorly in the first half, we gave them far too much room and were exposed at the back. But hopefully we have got that out of our system now. "There was fantastic quality in the match from both ourselves and Juventus -- and also I must say the referee who was first class and let the match flow." "Juventus's first half performance was the best I have seen from them all season. But we improved dramatically after the break and our midfield play was excellent. "Juventus will consider themselves as favourites to go on and win the tie now, but I am not so sure. "Of course if it ends 0-0 in Turin they will go through, but I just don't think they can do that, it's not in their culture -- they'll go out and try and win the game -- and we know we can score any time. This is a great result for them tonight, but they may regret us scoring so late." Juve boss Carlo Ancelotti admitted he was disappointed that Juve let their lead slip so late, but took heart from their overall performance. "We made things very difficult for United and think we showed our superiority for much of the match. "The important thing for me is that we gave them no space on the wings, had lots of opportunities to counter whenever possible and could have scored more than one goal. We neutralised David Beckham and Ryan Giggs who were unable to find Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke and we can do the same in Turin." Zinedine Zidane, who played superbly despite heavy strapping on his right thigh, said he was delighted he lasted the full 90 minutes and was looking forward to the second leg on April 21. "I don't think United are as good away as they are at home. In the end it is hard to say they did not deserve their equaliser because in the last 20 minutes they created a lot of chances," he said. His French World Cup-winning team mate Didier Deschamps added: "We are disappointed we didn't score more in the first hour when we were on top. Of course we are not pleased they scored -- but we have an away goal and that is very important." United skipper Roy Keane said: "Before the game we were confident of winning and we were disappointed to let them get the away goal but we are capable of going over there and scoring goals so we are still confident of reaching the final."
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Subject: BSkyB makes promises on Man Utd Lucrative TV match rights hang on MMC decision The satellite broadcaster BSkyB is reported to have offered to exclude Manchester United from any talks on television rights as it seeks to persuade the UK Government to clear its takeover of the club. According to the Financial Times, a letter has been sent to the Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers stating BSkyB would stick to an agreement which prevented it from using confidential bidding information from any broadcasting negotiations. The broadcaster is currently awaiting the findings of a report by the UK competition regulatory body, the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, which has investigated the implications of BSkyB's £623m bid for the club. Investigation completed Murdoch: Making a big play It is understood the MMC's report was submitted three weeks ago and the trade secretary may announce his decision before Tuesday. There has been much speculation about the outcome of the bid with some reports claiming the deal will be blocked because of concerns about what this could mean for broadcasting rights. BSkyB currently broadcasts Premier League football live and could soon own the largest club in Europe. The company is thought to have given additional assurances that it would not inititiate a breakaway league from the premiership. BSkyB's letter BSkyB is said to have written to Mr Byers following reports that ministers were concerned about the issue of confidential bidding information in any television deals. The broadcaster is thought to have given guarantees that it would not abuse its position, indeed it would exclude itself from any Premier League talks on television rights.
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Subject: COLOMBIA'S MONDRAGON TO REPLACE SCHMEICHEL?? AS SCHMEICHEL CLINGS TO EUROPEAN DREAM,GREEK GRANDPA'S THE KEY TO BID FOR COLOMBIA'S MONDRAGON TO REPLACE THE DANE By Iain Spragg COLOMBIAN World Cup star Farid Mondragon is poised to replace Peter Schmeichel as Manchester Unitedís goalkeeper for the next Millennium, and fulfil a lifelong ambition to play in the English top flight. The 27-year-old is currently on a short-term contract with Spain's Real Zaragoza but has already had talks with the Old Trafford giants about a summer switch to the Premiership. Ryan Giggs' injury-time equaliser against Juventus last night means the Dane's hopes of a European Cup win is still alive; if United do go on to win the tournament then the South American should be between the sticks as they seek to defend the title. United representatives flew out to meet Mondragon before Christmas but were reluctant to make an immediate swoop because he was not EU qualified. Mondragon, however, has since discovered he has a Greek grandfather and is in the process of obtaining a Greek passport. That would give him dual nationality - clearing the way for the South American to step into Schmeichelís shoes before the start of the next Premiership season. Paul Hodges, Mondragonís agent, told Football365: ďIt has always been Faridís ambition to play in England and he has already had talks with Manchester United. There has also been interest from Arsenal, Sheffield Wednesday, Liverpool and Rangers. He wants to join a big club and it is a virtual certainty he will be playing in the Premiership next season. His Greek passport should come through in June.Ē Mondragon was one of the biggest stars of last summerís World Cup. He was voted the best keeper in the first round and such luminaries as Maradona, Beckenbauer and Pele all named him in their team of the tournament. He was also the goalkeeper who saved the most direct shots during the championship, although he could nothing about David Beckhamís brilliant free-kick in Englandís 2-0 win over the Colombians in Lens during the group stages. The Colombian custodian told Football365: ďThe biggest wish in my life is to play in England. The English Premiership is the best, or one of the two best, leagues in the world. The most important thing for me is that I feel comfortable and well looked after. I have played long enough in South America and that part of my career is done.Ē United last month confirmed that Schmeichel was definitely leaving Old Trafford over the summer to play on the Continent and Alex Ferguson has been searching for a replacement all season. United, however, could face stiff competition from Italian high-fliers Lazio, who have already made a firm offer for his services. His registration is currently held by Argentina's Independiente, but Mondragonís self-confessed love of England - he was educated at an English school in Colombia - means United are still the front runners for his signature.
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