"playing rangers at old trafford is always huge," said gary neville expressing a sentiment shared by david weir, who cannot believe he is facing manchester united fc again at 40.
gary neville may be about to start his 16th uefa champions league group stage campaign but as manchester united fc prepare to face rangers fc his desire to compete at the highest level remains as fierce as ever.
the 35-year-old right-back, a survivor of united's triumph in 1999, is set to make his 110th appearance in the competition proper on tuesday, though he will not be the oldest man on the pitch, given the presence of rangers' 40-year-old captain david weir. neville made his european debut at home to fc torpedo moskva in the uefa cup 18 years ago yet, as he explained, he still relishes these occasions.
"no matter how many matches you've played and whatever stage of your career you're at, playing rangers at old trafford is always huge," said neville, who helped united beat the scottish side 3-0 at home in 2003. "in fact, every match at old trafford is always a big occasion, while games like the weekend's one away at everton will always be special too."
united suffered a setback in that game, conceding two added-time goals to draw 3-3, but neville's focus now is on rangers. "european matches against british teams are slightly different in some ways, particularly away games with the england-scotland thing, but at home we always try to play the same way," he added.
while neville has recently lost the united captaincy to regular starter nemanja vidić, weir retains the rangers armband and last week became scotland's oldest international. weir, who faced united regularly in the premier league before leaving everton in january 2007, is delighted to be stepping out at old trafford. "after leaving everton i didn't think i'd find myself coming back here and definitely not at the age of 40. manchester united are a great side, so i'm sure it'll be a great game."
however, weir knows he has no easy task keeping an eye on wayne rooney. the defender played alongside the future england striker when he made his senior debut for everton against tottenham hotspur fc on 17 august 2002 and weir said: "i remember rooney breaking into team as a 16-year-old. wayne took to it like a duck to water and scored great goals like that famous one against arsenal. he's gone from strength to strength ever since and it's lovely to see how far he's come."
yardımcı hakemler: jose cardinal (por), joão santos (por)
4. hakem: vasco antonio moreira santos (por)
çizgi hakemleri: artur soares (por), carlos xistra (por)
man. united: tomasz kuszczak (gk), rio ferdinand (c), wes brown, wayne rooney, chris smalling, park ji-sung (dk. 76 michael owen), javier hernández, fabio (dk. 76 jonny evans), darren fletcher, antonio valencia (dk. 63 ryan giggs), darron gibson
yedekler: edwin van der sar (gk), anderson, john o'shea, federico macheda
teknik direktör: sir alex ferguson (sco)
rangers: allan mcgregor (gk), david weir (c), kirk broadfoot, saša papac, lee mcculloch, maurice edu, steven davis, kenny miller (dk. 81 kyle lafferty), steven naismith, steven whittaker, madjid bougherra
yedekler: neil alexander (gk), richard foster, james beattie, vladimír weiss, andrew little, kyle hutton
teknik direktör: walter smith (sco)
sarı kartlar: dk. 90+5 ryan giggs (man. united) dk. 45+1 allan mcgregor (gk), dk. 90+6 lee mcculloch (rangers)
the visitors produced a stubborn defensive display to frustrate the group c favourites at old trafford.
rangers fc produced a stubborn defensive display to frustrate manchester united fc and earn a goalless draw from a tight anglo-scottish group c contest at old trafford.
walter smith's scottish titleholders conceded more goals than any other team in last season's uefa champions league group stage so they will return north of the border delighted with their evening's work. sir alex ferguson, by contrast, will reflect on a united performance lacking their usual fluency against the club he once served as a player. providing further cause for concern was the sight of antonio valencia departing on a stretcher in the second period with a seemingly serious ankle injury.
rangers were the last scottish team to win in england in europe's elite competition but 18 years had passed since that triumph at leeds united afc and damage limitation seemed the extent of smith's ambitions with his fielding of three central defenders in madjid bougherra, david weir and saša papac, flanked by the full-backs steven whittaker and kirk broadfoot.
javier hernández was one of ten changes from united's draw at everton last weekend and the young mexican, on his uefa champions league debut, offered an early threat after 12 minutes when he got in between papac and weir to nod fabio's right-wing cross just wide of the near post. he was involved in another rare first-half scare for rangers after 21 minutes when he and the recalled wayne rooney broke in a two-on-one with bougherra. yet rooney delayed his pass an instant too long, allowing weir to get back and avert the threat.
darron gibson, with a low drive that whistled past the goal frame, came close before the break and the irish midfielder was at it again moments after the restart, volleying wide from the edge of the area. with kenny miller an isolated front-runner, rio ferdinand, on his first run-out since may, and chris smalling, on his tournament debut, had little to worry about in united's defence.
papac almost got on to the end of a steven naismith cross having surged upfield following his own interception at the other end. then kirk broadfoot went down under a smalling challenge on the edge of the united box but referee olegário benquerença waved play on. with ten minutes remaining, darren fletcher looked poised to pull the trigger after latching on to giggs's lofted ball over the top but was foiled by bougherra. gibson then shot just a whisker over but rangers withstood the inevitable late pressure to claim their point.