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Scholes fires United to Champions final

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  • Paul Scholes scored as Man Utd beat Barcelona to reach Champions final
  • United will play either Chelsea or Liverpool in all-English climax in Moscow
  • Scholes spectacular striker after 14 minutes was only goal of two-leg semi
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MANCHESTER, England -- Paul Scholes powered Manchester United into an all-English Champions League climax in Moscow on May 21 with the only goal of a tense semifinal clash against Barcelona at Old Trafford.

Scholes celebrates after the goal that sent Manchester United to the Champions League final in Moscow.

The veteran midfielder made the breakthrough after 14 minutes to put United through 1-0 on aggregate to face the winners of Wednesday's second leg between Chelsea and Liverpool.

It was a superb strike from 25 meters by Scholes after he was given the ball in a dangerous area -- and the United player's first in Europe this season.

Scholes, making his 101st Champions League appearance, took full advantage after Barcelona failed to clear their lines following a surging run from Ronaldo.

Scholes was banned when United beat Bayern Munich to lift the trophy nine years ago in their last final appearance -- and manager Alex Ferguson said he will be the first name on the team sheet in Russia.

"It's a great feeling, marvellous for this club. This club deserves to be in the final. It's fantastic," added Ferguson. "They (Barca) chased the goal and they had to gamble but the fans got us over the line."

United captain Rio Ferdinand also paid to tribute to Scholes and the crowd. "You can't put this into words. The fans played their part and backed us the whole way and we dug deep.

"Then there was a moment of quality from a fantastic player. Paul Scholes...what a goal. A great time to get one."

But United were made to fight to the sixth minute of time added on to secure their reward for a determined performance.

United were hanging on desperately at times in a dramatic conclusion with Barcelona knowing a reply would take them through on the away goals rule.

Boosted by Scholes' breakthrough striker, United earlier stepped up the pace and had their Spanish rivals looking rattled.

Valdes nervously palmed away an inswinging cross from Tevez and Puyol was clattered as he tried to clear.

A dazzling run by Andres Iniesta raised Barcelona's hopes in the 33rd minute and the ball broke to Xavi. He tried to curl a shot beyond Van der Sar but his effort went marginally over the top.

Deco then sent his effort narrowly wide of the post as Barcelona suddenly looked menacing.

United were struggling to string their passes together and Ronaldo was not seeing much of the ball.

However a moment of inspiration from Park created a marvellous opening in the 41st minute. He flighted the ball perfectly to the back post but Nani only succeeded a glancing a header wide of the target.

Messi strode forward in the 56th minute but only succeeded in firing a shot wide. United responded immediately and the inspirational Tevez forced a good save from Valdes after a neat one-two with Ronaldo.

It was a decent half-chance and the home fans were looking for a second goal to ease their nerves.

There was a scare for United in the 62nd minute when Deco's free-kick from distance took a deflection before going wide -- with Barcelona knowing a goal would be enough to steal the glory.

United rang the changes after 76 minutes with Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher replacing Nani and Scholes.

Thierry Henry, however, almost equalised a minute later after stepping off the Barcelona bench when he peeled away from his marker only to send a weak header into Van der Sar's arms.

Defender Wes Brown then made a crucial block from substitute Bojan Krkic with two minutes to go before Evra was carried off after an aerial collision.

But United hung on to mark the 50th anniversary year of the Munich air crash with a place in their first Champions final for nine years. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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