Classy Man United Overwhelmed Schalke

Manchester United outclassed Schalke 04 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday, with goals from the evergreen Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney securing a 2-0 win for the English side. The visitors missed a hatful of chances in a one-sided first half, with Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer performing heroics to keep the game scoreless going into the break, before two goals in two minutes settled matters.

The visitors could easily have been three up within the first quarter of an hour and would have been had it not been for Neuer. The goalkeeper, courted by some of Europe's biggest clubs including United, provided ample proof of exactly why he is so highly rated with excellent stops to deny Rooney, Hernandez and then Park inside the first 15 minutes. Neuer, who has confirmed he will leave Schalke at the end of the season - of undoubted interest to United, with Edwin van der Sar set to retire at the end of current campaign - then repelled another crisp Hernandez's effort.

However, Giggs broke the deadlock after 67 minutes from a brilliant Rooney's pass and the England international turned scorer almost immediately, firing in from a similar position. Victory was just the eighth time in 20 outings United have beaten German opposition in the competition, and if next week's game in Manchester proves as one-sided as this match, a third final appearance in four years for Alex Ferguson's side is a near certainty.

Schalke surely cannot be this ordinary again at Old Trafford. It was perplexing to think this was the same side that had put seven past the 2010 champions, Inter Milan, over the two legs of their quarter-final. United were the superior team in every department. Let's not overlook the fact Schalke scored five times when they went to San Siro – but that is starting to feel like it was a one-off. Or can they repeat it?

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