Champions League – Ronaldo and Rooney conquer Rome
Manchester United have one foot in the semi-finals of the Champions League after beating Roma 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 36th goal of the season – and his seventh in Europe – before Wayne Rooney scored a second to give the Premier League side an advantage of two away goals to take into the second leg at Old Trafford.
Rooney scored against Roma in the 1-0 win at Old Trafford during the group stage, and reacted quickly to repeat that feat when Park Ji-Sung headed Wes Brown’s diagonal ball back across goal on 66 minutes. The ball broke free after confusion between Doni and Cristian Panucci, and Rooney pounced to bundle it over the line from close range.
Portugal international Ronaldo, who in the past has been accused of not producing his best in key European matches, had a rather inauspicious start to this match, and was covered by two Roma players whenever he had the ball at his feet.
United were the side that had most of the early possession, forcing Roma to chase the ball, but it was the home side who created the first real chance after a quarter of an hour when Cristian Panucci, captain for the evening due to the absence of Francesco Totti, headed over from a corner.
Roma were missing their talismanic forward and it showed, as Rio Ferdinand did an excellent job of marshalling Mirko Vucinic whenever the Montenegrin was on the attack, though he managed to turn the current England captain on one occasion and send a decent curling shot just over the bar.
After Vucinic went close again with an effort that went across the face of goal, Roma came out in the second half with renewed vigour. United manager Alex Ferguson responded by replacing the booked Anderson with Owen Hargreaves and moving Scholes further upfield to support Rooney.
Roma responded by bringing on Ludovic Guily, and continued to apply the pressure, but United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar made a vital reaction save after Vucinic met a corner at the near post.
Soon after United doubled their lead, and Rooney’s goal was quickly followed by Doni tipping a Ronaldo effort onto the post and Michael Carrick going close with a shot from outside the box.
The tie was almost put beyond doubt when late substitute Carlos Tevez crossed for Ronaldo to volley, but the well-struck effort was sent over the bar, meaning that Roma have an intimidating but not impossible deficit to overturn next week at Old Trafford.