Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was pleased with his side’s performance as they cruised past Schalke to move closer to this season’s Champions League final.
United were dominant in Germany with Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney both scored in a 2-0 away win.
Giggs, who had missed a couple of fantastic chances, was played in by Rooney and finished well before Rooney added a second only two minutes later.
“Our concentration, intensity and speed of passing was excellent,” Ferguson said afterwards. “We had less chances in the second half but were more dangerous, when Chicharito scored and it was offside it told the players they could beat the goalkeeper.”
“Juventus in 1999 will always be on the list of great performances away from home in Europe but this certainly ranks as one of them.
“The players have confidence and trust in each other and they are peaking.”
Ferguson also suggested the ability to name the same starting 11 that played against Chelsea in the previous round was significant.
“The continuity of selection in these games gives us good experience and work-rate and I have good options with the likes of Nani, Scholes and Anderson. We have selection problems now but that is what we want,” he added.
The Scot is in the market for a new goalkeeper with Dutch veteran Edwin van der Sar retiring at the end of the season and has been linked with Schalke keeper Manuel Neuer, who performed marvels on the night to keep the score respectable.
“He was fantastic,” said Ferguson. “That is one of the best performances I’ve seen against Manchester United.”
The United boss even suggested he could rest key players in the return leg as the fight to win the Premier League takes priority.
“Depending on the result on Sunday [at Arsenal] I could make two or three changes because we play Chelsea the following weekend.
“We are a bit disappointed we didn’t take more chances but overall we are delighted with the performance. In the first half especially we had some good chances and we were disappointed at half time not to be in front.”
But Rooney refused to accept that United now have one foot in the final at Wembley, aware that Schalke scored five goals in the San Siro against Inter in the quarter-finals.
“Schalke are a good team and we can’t take them lightly. We need to make sure we are professional and fully concentrated,” he said.
Giggs, who became the oldest player to score in the history of the Champions League, insisted the players were confident they would be able to find a goal despite being constantly denied by Neuer.
“We knew that if we kept creating chances one would go in and hopefully I would get one on my left foot rather than my right,” he said. “Before the game we would have taken 2-0 but now we are slightly disappointed.”