Champions League – United edge past Lyon


Cristiano Ronaldo‘s first-half goal earned Manchester United an efficient 1-0 victory over Lyon at Old Trafford that secured their progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

FOOTBALL 2007-2008 Champions League Manchester United Olympique de Lyon Cristiano Ronaldo Rooney - 0

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The 1999 champions dominated possession in the first half, but Lyon looked to have succeeded in frustrating them until Ronaldo broke the deadlock five minutes before the break.

The home side looked similarly in control for large periods of the second half, but almost conceded an equaliser with 15 minutes remaining when Keidar Keita cannoned a shot against the post.

But a late onslaught from the visitors failed to materialise, and United kept their shape to secure a 2-1 aggregate victory and a record-equalling 10th consecutive home win in the Champions League.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson opted for a compact 4-5-1 formation, with Anderson, Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick in midfield and Portuguese wingers Ronaldo and Nani supporting Wayne Rooney from the flanks.

And it was the home side who settled first, confidently stringing passes around in midfield and probing for weaknesses in the Lyon back four, and after 10 minutes Ronaldo got away from Fabio Grosso down the right before dwelling on the ball and allowing Cris to block his left-footed shot.

Lyon withstood a period of sustained pressure before beginning to venture forward themselves, and after half an hour Kim Kallstrom drove in a well-struck effort from outside the area that Edwin van der Sar pushed out.

For all their possession United had not really tested Gregory Coupet in the visitors’ goal, but five minutes before half-time they went ahead for the first time in the tie when Anderson’s shot from the edge of the box hit Ronaldo, and he reacted quickly to fire the ball inside the left-hand post from 10 yards.

Chances were at a premium in the early stages of the second half, and the nearest either side came to scoring was when Nani cut inside Grosso on the United right before firing a shot wide of the far post.

As the full-time whistle approached – and with it, the prospect of the quarter-finals – a nervousness crept into United’s play, and with 15 minutes remaining Lyon substitute Keita crashed a low shot against Van der Sar’s near post after being set up by the dangerous Karim Benzema.

Rooney then spurned a great chance to settle the game when he seized on a weak back-pass before dinking a shot straight at Coupet, but United managed to hold firm at the other end to seal their progress to the last eight.

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