Bosses explode after United-Lille controversy

21st February 2007, Comments 0 comments

LENS, Feb 21, 2007 (AFP) - Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson exploded with rage after seeing his side earn a crucial and controversial 1-0 win in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie against Lille here.

LENS, Feb 21, 2007 (AFP) - Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson exploded with rage after seeing his side earn a crucial and controversial 1-0 win in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie against Lille here.

Ryan Giggs snatched a late winner with a quickly taken free-kick that took Lille by surprise and resulted in the hosts delaying the game for several minutes to protest the award of a goal.

Lille goalkeeper Tony Sylva was still lining up his wall as the Welshman chipped the ball into an empty net, sparking a near walk-off from the hosts and a barrage of missiles thrown from the stands by home fans.

"We're delighted with the result," said Fergie before launching an angry tirade at Lille.

"After the goal I've never seen anything like that in football. It was disgraceful and incited intimidation from the fans who became very hostile.

"Gary Neville was hit in the head from an object thrown from the crowd and that's not acceptable."

After the goal, which came seven minutes from time and followed a disallowed effort from the hosts midway through the second period, Lille punted the ball straight into touch and their players all started to make their way to the touchline.

Several players left the pitch, encouraged by Lille's goalkeeping coach, while arguments broke out between the two sets of players as United's stars tried to convince their opponents to continue the game.

"We should have taken a quick throw in and scored a goal," said Fergie. "We acted as peace-makers. I've never seen anything that disgraceful.

"I don't know who was responsible for it. They've kicked the ball into touch and all started running to the touchline."

Lille manager Claude Puel reacted angrily to Ferguson's taunts and also complained about the goal for his side that was disallowed.

Nigerian striker Peter Odemwingie headed home from close range following a left-wing cross but had his effort disallowed for a push on United centre-back Nemanja Vidic.

The contact was minimal and Vidic went down somewhat easily but there was a clear push from the striker.

"I don't know how that man (Ferguson) can allow himself to comment like that about this. He should have said nothing," blasted Puel.

"The team wished to make a complaint about the goal and didn't want to leave the field. They were just making a protest.

"In France the tradition is to make a protest at the first pause in the game and then after the match.

"There were two dubious decisions in the match and that's a shame because it was a match between two good teams and it could have done without that."

After a slow opening period the game exploded into life after the break and turned into a thrilling affair, even before the late drama.

United had two early chances in the second period to bury the game.

First Wayne Rooney brilliantly dazzled three defenders and ran through on Sylva only to strangely opt to cross for Giggs rather than shoot. His cross was too far ahead of the Welsh winger who could only prod the ball wide.

Moments later Rooney released Cristiano Ronaldo with a piercing through ball. The Portuguese flyer's pace took him clear but Sylva blocked his shot and Rooney blazed the rebound wildly over.

Lille then had their chances with Matthieu Bodmer seeing his close range shot blocked by returning Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar and then Odemwongie being denied by the referee's whistle.

United substitute Louis Saha had a shot saved by Sylva and Lille sub Johan Audel blazed over in a chaotic finale that could have seen either side take the lead before Giggs's coup de grace.

It all bodes for fireworks in the second leg in Manchester in two weeks time.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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