29/07/2009 18:32, Report by Ben Hibbs
Boca Juniors 1 United 2
The Reds reached the Audi Cup final with a 2-1 victory over Boca Juniors at the Allianz Arena, but Sir Alex's men had to work hard for the win.
United turned in a strong first-half performance, including a starring role and goal for Antonio Valencia in his first appearance in a red shirt, and a stunning goal from Anderson (yes, Anderson).
The Brazilian put United in front with a brilliant free kick before Valencia’s solo effort doubled the lead. Boca came back after the break and shaded the play in the second half, but the Reds did just enough to earn a place in the final against Bayern Munich, who crushed AC Milan 4-1 in the tournament's other semi-final.
Sir Alex gave young Northern Irish defender Craig Cathcart a rare chance alongside Wes Brown at centre-back. The boss said he wanted an up-close assessment of Cathcart, who spent last season on loan with Plymouth Argyle. And the Belfast boy did his hopes of gaining further opportunities no harm at all.
But the man most United fans were focusing on was Antonio Valencia. The Ecuadorian was regularly involved from the start, including an opening down the right after ten minutes as Park narrowly missed connecting with captain John O’Shea’s drilled cross.
As expected with a player like Juan Roman Riquelme pulling the strings, Boca Juniors looked technically adept in the opening exchanges, but as soon as United clicked into gear the Argentinians struggled to cope for the rest of the half.
United's breakthrough soon arrived, and in stunning - yet surprising - fashion after 23 minutes. Valencia earned a free kick on the right corner of the 18-yards box and it was Anderson who stood over the ball shaping to shoot. Although some onlookers perhaps didn’t hold out much hope, the Brazilian beautifully arced his shot into the top corner. It