Sparta Prague 0 v 0 Manchester United
Toyota Stadium, Prague
19th October 2004
United's stuttering form continues. At times the team looked like it was finally making the breakthrough into consistency, but then the defence would fall apart, or the midfield give the ball away too cheaply, and all the momentum was lost.
In truth, Sparta had more real chances, not including the large number of speculative Rooney efforts that had little impact, and were wasteful in so much as another player was waiting in a better position.
The game began without the United fluency of old, though ths may well have been because the team were missing Rio and Keane - this side is sill not settled, with the key pair out with a family funeral and a virus respectively. Carroll remained between the sticks, and as much as I dislike him (Timmy is, like, so much better!) I have to admit that he kept us in the game at times.
Heinze put in another good, game, and was ultimately the provider for United best chance. Having skined the opposition defender, he swung in a cross that Van Nistelrooy actually connected with, but despite the pace of the shot the keeper was able to kick the ball away as it had been hit straight at him.
And that was pretty much all of the United chances. Ronaldo could have scored when the ball met him at the back post, but he was unable to get any direction on the ball, and it rolled back across the goals.
Ronaldo only played the last 10 minutes, but on his three touches on the ball you could tell he was a different class - and he had fire in his belly.
One run into the box was nice enough, but his teammates managed to get the ball back to Mickey Silvestre instead of capitalising on his play.
Overall not a bad result, but not a great one either.
Sparta Prague: Blazek, Pergl, Kovac, Homola, Petras (Cech 81), Poborsky, Sivok, Zelenka (Simak 81), Urbanek, Jun (Meduna 74), Vorisek.
Subs Not Used: Bicik, Michalik, Koubsky, Pacanda.
Man Utd: Carroll, Gary Neville, Brown, Silvestre, Heinze, Miller, Scholes, O'Shea, Giggs (Ronaldo 78), Rooney (Saha 78), van Nistelrooy.
Subs Not Used: Ricardo, Phil Neville, Smith, Kleberson, Djemba-Djemba.
Booked: Miller, Scholes.
Referee: Massimo De Santis (Italy).