MANCHESTER – Atsuto Uchida’s dream run in the Champions League came to an end Wednesday as a second-string Manchester United hammered Schalke 4-1 in the second leg of the semifinals to set up a dream date with Barcelona at Wembley later this month.
Schalke had the odds stacked against them after a 2-0 defeat in last week’s first leg in Germany and first half goals from Antonio Valencia and Darron Gibson all but put a much-changed United side out of sight.
Jose Jurado pounced on a loose ball following Uchida’s cross to give Schalke a flicker of hope in the 35th minute, but an Anderson double in the second half secured United a 6-1 aggregate win and repeat of their 2009 Champions League final with Barca.
“Other people can be happy about me (being the first Japanese) in the Champions League semifinals but not me,” said Uchida. “I wanted to win. If we had won the final I could say I have given it my all. But I can’t say that since we haven’t gone all the way.”
Uchida, who has established himself at Schalke since joining the Gelsenkirchen club after last year’s World Cup finals and started in 11 of their 12 Champions League games, said he had enjoyed the ride in Europe’s premier club competition.
“I have really enjoyed the last six months waking in the morning with the Champions League on my mind. I wouldn’t say I was confident, but the team had expectations of me.”
Uchida’s disappointment at the semifinal exit was shared by goalkeeper Manuel Neuer who was unable to produce the heroics that limited United to two goals in the first leg when they should have had a hatful.
“We had no chance. It hurts being knocked out,” said Neuer. “To beat Man United you have to be absolutely on top of your game, but I am proud of what we have achieved in the Champions League this season.”