Sir Alex Ferguson hates goalless away legs and his side proved, in their 0-0 draw at the Bernabeu eight years ago which was followed by elimination by Real Madrid in the home leg, that they can spell trouble. But the United manager still declared himself "satisfied" last night with a result that he will attempt to build on with a more aggressive performance at Old Trafford next Tuesday.
Ferguson was troubled by the amount of possession his side conceded, allowing Barcelona to dominate last night's game with 62 per cent of play, and could only single out Paul Scholes as a player who had not sacrificed the ball.
The moment that might have defined the game – Cristiano Ronaldo's missed penalty after Gabriel Milito threw his hands up to impede the Portugal international's header – seemed to distract United for much of the first half. Ronaldo insisted he had not altered his approach to the penalty, though he does tend to drive them lower than he did here. He said, with customary self-confidence last night: "I didn't change my style for the penalty but now I will score at Old Trafford."
Though Ronaldo's contribution was a shadow of his displays against inferior opposition at Old Trafford, Ferguson said his side owed their lack of penetration to their failure to support him in his lone striking role. "[Ronaldo] was the player who could win the match," Ferguson said. "We are a bit disappointed in our early distribution from defence to attack. We are normally better in possession of the ball."
Aside from United's halftime complaints about ball boys' slow returning of the ball, Ferguson also put their disjointed display down to the midfield reshuffle he decided on – Wayne Rooney playing in a deep left wing role and Park Ji Sung more central – to stunt Barcelona's midfield threat.
He will be again be without Nemanja Vidic for Saturday's match at Chelsea. Vidic was rushed to hospital before training on Tuesday after a stomach upset that has been diagnosed as a stomach infection. He was kept in until late on Tuesday night and was only able to take in his first food – soup – yesterday afternoon.
The Barcelona manager, Frank Rijkaard, bemoaned his side's failure to score. "This is not a good result and they didn't let us play as we want to," he said. "We gave them the instruction to go out and score goals."
Ronaldo believes next week's game will be different. "Barcelona had a lot of the ball but they didn't create great chances," he said. "We are going to win."