Cristiano Ronaldo and Wes Brown.

UTD Podcast: Brown reveals tactics in Moscow

In the latest episode of UTD Podcast, Manchester United legend Wes Brown reveals the minor tactical detail that led to Cristiano Ronaldo’s opening goal in the 2008 Champions League final.

The Reds famously recorded a penalty shoot-out victory over Chelsea in Moscow that year, after a 1-1 draw at Luzhniki Stadium, to lift the European Cup for a third time in the club’s history. 

Brown started the match in Russia to make his 52nd appearance of the season and it was his excellent cross that led to Ronaldo netting with a towering first-half header. 

As Wes explains during an entertaining appearance on UTD Podcast, which is available on all of your favourite streaming services from Tuesday, the Reds had targeted a weakness in Chelsea’s defence. 
Cristiano Ronaldo soars to score against Chelsea.
Watch the highlights of the 2008 Champions League final to see Brown's assist for Ronaldo.
“It was a bit weird because Chelsea knew us and we knew them,”
says Brown, when recalling that famous night in Europe.
“We started off unbelievably. The dink towards the back post, we talked about that because Michael Essien was playing at right-back and Ronaldo was so good in the air. It was a case of just whipping it in there, to the back post, and it worked! 

“We should have been two or three goals ahead because we knew they’d come back. I loved Vida and Drogba’s battle. You could see him getting frustrated because he couldn’t win a header, but Vida was all over him and he couldn’t handle it! That was a fantastic night in my career.”

Brown earned a second Champions League medal of his career on that memorable night in Moscow, of course, after being a youthful member of the squad that completed the Treble back in 1999. 

The Reds were prevented from winning another Treble in 2007/08, as a result of a frustrating FA Cup sixth-round defeat at home to Portsmouth. While Brown is still annoyed by that, he only has positive memories about that squad and the legendary players he shared the pitch with. 

“I didn’t think we’d do the Treble that season,” he says. “But I felt early on that you could see that we had one over most opponents, especially in the league, even though it was tough. I’m still disappointed about the FA Cup, but, in the Champions League, I think there was that confidence and I think that was the one we wanted as players. 

“The squad… it was scary. That was when Ronaldo started playing up front and we had Tevez, Rooney, Saha, Scholesy, Giggsy. Owen Hargreaves would bomb up and down, and there was Ji, who was one of the main guys, he was unbelievable and the defence was solid. If someone got injured, the person filling in was solid and he had the same mentality. 

“As defenders, we knew that if we did our jobs, then the lads would and I’m guessing it was the other way round. Rio and Vida were fantastic - Patrice as well. That season, I played most of the games but you still had Gary Neville and John O’Shea. They were experienced players as well.”

Listen to Brown's UTD Podcast - and other previous episodes - on Deezer and all of your favourite podcast apps.

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