It was European Football from the 1960's. A Psycology more recognizable to Ian St John or Denis Law than twenty one year old Wayne Rooney.
Even before the game the French were trying to unsettle United. Neither team trained on the bone hard pitch. A pitch that remained un-watered before the game. As the game kicked off we watched as the ball bobbled about amid an intimidating atmosphere.
But after fifteen minutes there was a real panic. Too many United fans were in the away enclosure. The French Police response ? Fire tear gas into the crowd ! For a few minutes the scenes were reminiscent of St Etienne in 1976, when the French taunted Utd fans by throwing bread at them. ( There was a bread strike on in England at the time ). Eventually order was restored as the authorities opened up a section of the stand.
On the small, tight pitch all was not good. The French were closing down impressively and stifling United's play and a dull first half drew to a close.
There was little improvement in the second and the partizan crowd became even more hostile following a dissallowed goal for a push on Vidic.
With seven minutes remaining United were awarded a free kick about twenty yards out. Giggs asked the ref if he could take it quickly, the ref said yes, the French defenders were legs akimbo and BANG ! United were one nil up and the French were beside themselves. Players surrounded the referree, Manager and coaching staff waved arms and rolled eyes. And then the incredible happened.
From the kick off the ball was unceremoniously booted out of play and the Lille players were waved off by their coach. Pandemonium ! After a few minutes of lunacy the `game' re-started too a cocophony of whistles, boos and missiles.
Thankfully the referree blew up for full time. Manchester United had endured a truly ugly European excursion and come home with a win.