Acimovic deepens United crisis
By Chris Stanton. Last Updated: 02/11/05 9:35pm
Expect recriminations to start afresh at Old Trafford, following a 1-0 defeat to Lille in the UEFA Champions League, with Milenko Acimovic the first half matchwinner.
The watching Roy Keane will no doubt have his own thoughts on another disappointing performance but the pervading stigma at United is one of inexorable lethargy.
Sir Alex Ferguson would have been desperate to dispell the gloom of Saturday's 4-1 loss to Middlesbrough, however, there was to be no respite at Stade de France and United's malaise will be of grave concern to the Scot.
United had a opening on just five minutes, Kieran Richardson and Ruud van Nistelrooy linked well, the latter finding Cristiano Ronaldo but after turning inside on to his left foot the shot was tame.
For the home side, Geoffrey Dernis advanced but shot high and wide and Wes Brown's slip presented a shooting opportunity to Matt Moussilou but he scooped his effort over.
Sustained possession was not aided by a poor pitch but a tepid opening ensued with two sides seemingly more comfortable with the art of containing than orchestrating.
Richardson's shot from distance was blocked and Wayne Rooney drilled over after referee Markus Merk played advantage for a foul on van Nistelrooy.
On 32 minutes, Gregory Tafforeau's cross almost caught Mikael Silvestre napping but Debuchy, arriving late, headed wide.
But six minutes later, the unbowed Tafforeau sprinted past John O'Shea and fed the ball to Acimovic who had ghosted in unmarked. The former Tottenham midfielder's first touch negated Brown and he clipped the finish high over Edwin van der Sar.
After a poor first half display, a ragged opening to the second half would have done little to assuage United doubts.
Smith's foul presented Tafforeau with a shooting opportunity 20 yards from goal. Tafforeau responded with an arcing shot which seemed destined for the top corner but for a sublime save from van der Sar, who needed all of his six-foot, seven-inch frame to tip the ball over.
Five minutes later and United were similarly inches away from restoring parity. From Rooney's flighted corner, Ronaldo's miscued header struck the underside of the crossbar and bounced down to be cleared uncomfortably by Dernis.
A dereliction of duty from Ronaldo at the opposite end should really have been punished. Acimovic's corner found the onrushing Tafforeau but the marauding captain screwed wide.
20 minutes from time and there was another defensive aberration from United. Debuchy's right wing centre found Moussilou unmarked, plum centre of goal, but he headed over to let the visitors off the hook once again.
Rooney shot wide and van Nistelrooy's intelligent through ball found substitute Park Ji-sung who shot wide but the expected United belligerence never materialised.
Lille leapfrog their opponents in Group D, while Ferguson is left to lament another insipid performance with a weekend Premiership test against Chelsea now looming.
Click for Lille v Man United player ratings.
|Lille||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||1|
|13||Shots off Target||5|
UEFA Champions League
Wed 2nd Nov - Group D
Benfica0 - 1Villarreal
Lille1 - 0Man Utd
Wed 2nd Nov - Group A
Club Brugge3 - 2Rapid Vienna
Juventus2 - 1Bay Munich
Wed 2nd Nov - Group C
W Bremen4 - 3Udinese
Barcelona5 - 0Panathinaikos
Wed 2nd Nov - Group B
Arsenal3 - 0Sp Prague
FC Thun2 - 4Ajax
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|3||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||7|
UEFA Champions League Group D
UEFA Champions League Group E
UEFA Champions League Group F
|2||Paris St Germain||6||13|
UEFA Champions League Group G
UEFA Champions League Group H