Champions League: Manchester United 4 Schalke 1

Manchester United will face Barcelona in the Champions League final, after they crushed Schalke 4-1 at Old Trafford on Wednesday.United led 2-0 from the semi-final first leg, so when Antonio Valencia drilled an angled shot past Manuel Neuer after 26 minutes and Darron Gibson made it 2-0 five minutes later the tie was all but over.

Schalke did reply through Jurado before half-time but United were able to see out the match and even score twice more after the break, both through midfielder Anderson, to complete a 6-1 aggregate win.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson took a huge gamble on his side’s Champions League future by resting nine of the 11 players that started their English Premier League match at Arsenal last weekend – clearly concerned about a title-deciding fixture against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Only goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar and midfielder Anderson survived the cull, with Wayne Rooney not even included on the bench.

Fortunately for Ferguson’s men, their opponents showed little belief that they could rescue the tie, even against a shadow United line-up, and the home side were convincing victors.

Irishman Gibson set up the opening goal with a wonderful pass for Valencia, who fired low across Neuer for 1-0.

Gibson doubled the lead five minutes later, firing in a shot that Neuer – who had played so wonderfully in the first leg – let slip into this own net.

The Germans did briefly pose a threat, scoring through Jurado, but United were back on the attack after the break and almost scored another through an Anderson curling shot that was well saved.

The Brazilian then tapped home after 72 minutes and converted a pass from Dimitar Berbatov four minutes later to wrap up a remarkably easy victory.

The result means United will play in the Champions League final for the third time in four years.

They won the title by beating Chelsea in Moscow in 2008, but lost to Barcelona in Rome a year later. Now they must face the Catalan giants again – but this time at Wembley on May 28.