Sir Alex Ferguson paid tribute to Ryan Giggs after the evergreen Manchester United midfielder helped shatter Chelsea’s Champions League dream.
Giggs, 37, who was instrumental in creating Wayne Rooney’s decisive goal in the first-leg victory at Stamford Bridge, took centre-stage once more at Old Trafford on Tuesday as United won 2-1 on the night, 3-1 overall. The veteran provided Javier Hernandez with the cross which made it 1-0 just before half-time, and then produced an exquisite pass to Park Ji-Sung which snuffed out Chelsea’s hopes of a fightback after Didier Drogba equalised.
Ferguson heaps praise
Ferguson heaped praise on Giggs after another match-winning contribution from the Welshman
“Well we’ve said it so many times about the man,” Ferguson said of Giggs. “He’s just incredible, a unique person and player.
“And his contribution was big. The goal in the first game, the first goal in this game and his part in the second goal.”
Ferguson said Giggs owed his extraordinary longevity to his physique and sense of balance.
“He’s got fantastic balance, he’s never lost that. That’s always been a great part of his assets – wonderful balance.”
Ferguson meanwhile, could also reflect on another scintillating display from Wayne Rooney, the England striker who appears to finally be hitting peak form after enduring a prolonged slump.
“I think for quite a while he’s been playing very well,” Ferguson said of Rooney. “He was outstanding in the first game and tonight he did his job right.”
Ferguson said he expects United to face Bundesliga outfit Schalke 04 in the semi-finals, where the reward will be a Wembley final against either Real Madrid or Barcelona.
Barca reach semi-finals
Barcelona eased into the semi-finals of the Champions League with Lionel Messi scoring the only goal against Shakhtar Donetsk in their quarter-final second-leg match to complete a 6-1 aggregate success with a club record 48th goal of the season.
Barca, champions in 1992, 2006 and 2009, will now meet either bitter rivals Real Madrid or Tottenham in the last-four after Messi made the difference just two minutes before the break to reach the semi-finals for the fourth successive season.
“This fourth consecutive qualification for the semi-finals is a huge achievement,” said Barca coach Pep Guardiola.
“Barcelona have never done this before. This is a huge pleasure.”
His Shakhtar Donetsk counterpart Mircea Lucescu complimented Barcelona on their win and said he hoped they would go on and win the trophy.
“This was a great opportunity to play against Barca, and this will be a very useful experience for our young team for next season,” added the veteran Romanian, whose side was praised by Guardiola.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2011.