United out to deny Lille revenge

6th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

MANCHESTER, England, March 6, 2007 (AFP) - Lille will be hoping it is a case of third time lucky here on Wednesday when they attempt to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit in their acrimonious Champions League tie with Manchester United.

MANCHESTER, England, March 6, 2007 (AFP) - Lille will be hoping it is a case of third time lucky here on Wednesday when they attempt to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit in their acrimonious Champions League tie with Manchester United.

The French club has failed in two attempts to persuade UEFA to annul the first match on the grounds that the quickly-taken free-kick by Ryan Giggs which decided the outcome should not have been allowed to stand.

The match in France was also marred by a crush involving United supporters which has led to the two clubs engaging in mutual mud-slinging over the security arrangements.

With Lille still considering a possible appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the second leg will be played against a background of lingering uncertainty over whether the tie could be declared void.

No one at Old Trafford believes there is any chance of that happening and United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has ensured that there will be no shortage of animosity in Wednesday's clash by calling on UEFA to "come down hard" on Lille over their reaction to the Giggs goal.

Lille's players briefly left the pitch in protest and, at one point, looked as if they were going to abandon the game - conduct which European football's governing body will review on March 22.

"My view of what happened has not changed," Ferguson said. "They were trying to influence the match official and the result by walking off the pitch.

"It was bizarre and extraordinary. I have never seen that before and I don't think you will ever see it again."

The Scot added further fuel to the fire by claiming Lille were portraying themselves as a David to United's Goliath.

"They have tried to create an issue around the game, saying they are a small team from France and they are playing the big Manchester United," he said.

"But the laws say if you leave the pitch, you need the referee's permission to come back on.

"Four or five of their players should have been yellow-carded and probably a couple of them had already been booked.

"It is an interesting aspect. But, from the referee's point of view, he probably wanted the game finished and over with."

United will kick off as favourites to progress to the last eight, despite the probable loss of Wayne Rooney, who was struggling to recover from a knee injury incurred in the 1-0 win at Liverpool on Saturday which has significantly shortened the odds on Ferguson's men reclaiming the Premiership title.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is also sidelined following knee surgery last week but the likely forward pairing of Louis Saha with Henrik Larsson, who will be playing his last match for the club atOld Trafford, amounts to the kind of cover most managers would love to have.

Lille in contrast have been hit by injuries to two first-choice midfielders, Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Bodmer.

The ball-winning Cabaye is set to be replaced by fit-again Stephane Dumont, who marked his return from a knee injury by scoring twice in Lille's 4-0 win over Troyes at the weekend.

With Lille obliged to score at least once to take the tie into extra-time, the loss of the more attacking Bodmer represents a bigger blow to Lille boss Claude Puel, although he can call upon another midfielder, Kader Keita, who was suspended for the first leg.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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