A stunning goal from Paul Scholes gave Manchester United a 1-0 win over Barcelona yesterday to set up an all-English Champions League final against either Liverpool or Chelsea in Moscow next month.
On a night of drama at Old Trafford in which Barcelona played some outstanding attacking football, it was hardly more fitting that Scholes scored the goal that secured his club their place in the showdown at the Luzhniki Stadium on May 21.
Scholes was suspended for United's epic victory over Bayern Munich in the 1999 final, and Ferguson had already said he would play in the final if they qualified.
He duly responded with a brilliant swerving shot that went high and wide of goalkeeper Victor Valdes in the 14th minute of the semi-final, second leg to give United a 1-0 aggregate victory.
"It was a fantastic goal," Ferguson told reporters. "He has come through the ranks here and is one of the great players this club has had.
"We can't expect him to score 15-20 goals a season like he did when he was younger, but the one he got tonight makes up for all the ones he can no longer score."
Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard rued his side's inability to convert chances.
"We did everything but score. It was an even game. If anything we possibly had the better of the play, but the rules state that the team that scores more goals goes through, and we did not score."
It will be United's third European Cup final following their earlier successes over Benfica at Wembley in 1968 and Bayern at Barcelona in 1999 when they won the treble of European Cup, FA Cup and Premier League. They are now chasing a double of Champions League and Premier League titles.
Barcelona, and especially their Argentine winger Lionel Messi, threatened time and again with some inspired approach play but were thwarted by brilliant defending from United's back line with defenders Rio Ferdinand and Wes Brown outstanding.
The game burst into life from the kickoff with Scholes, making just about his only mistake of the night, fortunate not to concede a penalty for a foul on Messi just inches outside the box after only 30 seconds.
Four free-kicks inside the first three minutes indicated the passion and commitment of both teams, with United looking a different side from the one pinned on the back foot for most of last week's goalless first leg at the Nou Camp.