United secure final date
Manchester United defeated Gamba Osaka 5-3 with six goals coming in the last 16 minutes of the match.
By Richard Bailey
Last Updated: 18/12/08 1:41pm
Manchester United defeated Gamba Osaka 5-3 in the Fifa Club World Cup semi-final with six goals coming in the last 16 minutes of the match.
Sir Alex Ferguson will not have been impressed with some of his side's defending but credit must go to the J-League side whose attacking intent made for an entertaining spectacle.
In the end the Premier League and European champions' attack was just too strong for their opponents and they claimed their first goal after 28 minutes when Nemanja Vidic headed home a Ryan Giggs corner.
United were two up when another Giggs corner was met by Cristiano Ronaldo to ensure the Red Devils went into the break in control.
Osaka pulled a goal back, much to the crowd's delight, after 74 minutes through Masato Yamazaki but United responded with three goals in four minutes.
A minute after the J-League side scored substitute Wayne Rooney slotted home before Darren Fletcher headed a fourth three minutes later.
Rooney added a fifth on 79 minutes before Yasuhito Endo scored from the spot for Osaka after Gary Neville had handled in the area.
And that was not the end of the late goal frenzy as Hideo Hashimoto fired home to end a manic period in the match.
The J-League outfit began quite brightly, although United had begun to get on top with Ronaldo looking menacing and he forced the corner which led to the openg goal.
Giggs took it and expertly found Vidic at the far post. With his added strength, the Serbian simply guided his header beyond Yosuke Fujigaya.
If Anderson, who has yet to score in 56 appearances for the Red Devils since his arrival from FC Porto last year, had been equally clinical when Ronaldo picked him out on the edge of the six-yard area shortly afterwards, the contest would have been over.
Instead, despite being unmarked, the Brazilian failed to make a proper connection, prolonging Gamba's stay of execution until stoppage-time.
Again Giggs was the provider with another accurate set-piece. This time Ronaldo was the finisher, powering home his 10th goal of the campaign, and his first in five weeks.
Given Rooney was only a substitute as Ferguson opted not to take a chance with his fitness, and record signing Dimitar Berbatov remained in bed with a virus, it was an adequate return on the opening 45 minutes, especially as some United players were still suffering from jet-lag.
United's second goal took the competitive edge away from a second half that was more akin to the pre-season games United have played in the Far East over the past few years.
That all changed though when Rooney was introduced 18 minutes from time.
Before he had even touched the ball, Gamba pulled one back through Yamazaki.
But it just proved to be the prelude to a blistering spell of United attacking, in which Fletcher nodded home either side of a Rooney double.
First the England man shrugged off Sota Nakazawa to finish, then he collected Giggs' pass and slotted home.
Rooney was then booked for a foul on Michihiro Yasuda before Endo slotted home a calmly-taken penalty after a handball decision had gone against Neville.
There was still time for another Gamba goal from Hashimoto, although it did not affect the outcome.The victory in Yokohama means United will now meet LDU Quito in the tournament's final on Sunday.
|Gamba Osaka||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|0||1st Half Goals||2|
|9||Shots on Target||9|
|10||Shots off Target||6|