Champions League – Tevez eases United through

Carlos Tevez‘s second-half header gave Manchester United a 1-0 victory over Roma at Old Trafford that sealed their progress to the last four of the Champions League with a 3-0 aggregate victory.

FOOTBALL 2007-2008 Champions League Manchester United-AS Rom Tevez - 0

After making a strong start to the game United nearly went behind when Roma were awarded a penalty after half an hour, but Daniele de Rossi blasted a wretched spot-kick well over the crossbar.

Roma continued to put United under pressure in the opening stages of the second period, before Tevez’s header from Owen Hargreaves‘s inch-perfect cross finally put the tie beyond the Italian side.

United went into the game leading 2-0 on aggregate after a convincing first leg performance in Rome, but manager Alex Ferguson betrayed his anxiety with a conservative 4-5-1 formation that saw Tevez starting up front on his own, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney on the bench.

Rio Ferdinand returned at centre-half after being forced off in the 2-2 draw at Middlesbrough, and he was partnered by young Spaniard Gerard Pique, with Mikael Silvestre starting at left-back in place of compatriot Patrice Evra.

United started in purposeful fashion, and Park Ji-Sung flashed a shot across goal before Wes Brown directed a free header over the bar from Ryan Giggs‘s left-wing corner.

Giggs almost created an opener moments later when his pass set Hargreaves scampering into the visitors’ box, but the England man’s shot was turned away by Doni.

Mirko Vucinic tested Edwin van der Sar with a shot from a tight angle after 15 minutes, but United were soon back on the attack and Giggs extended Doni with a half-volley from Hargreaves’s zipped right-wing cross.

Hargreaves was finding plenty of room down the United right in the game’s opening stages, and it took a joint effort from Juan and Marco Cassetti to deny him after he was set free once again by Giggs.

The home side were cruising, but with half an hour gone the stadium fell into stunned silence when referee Tom Ovrebo adjudged Brown’s challenge on Mancini illegal and pointed to the penalty spot.

Midfielder De Rossi – who scored a spot-kick in Italy’s 2006 World Cup final shootout triumph over France – stepped up, but lifted his penalty high into the stands.

Roma went close again shortly after the break when Van der Sar spilled Vucinic’s long-range effort but Cassetti just could not get to the rebound.

Rodrigo Taddei was then denied by a tremendous block from Silvestre as Roma continued to threaten, before Hargreaves and Tevez combined to put the result beyond their opponents with 20 minutes remaining.

Tevez found Hargreaves rampaging down the right wing, and the Argentine was perfectly placed to meet the ensuing cross with a deft near post header that gave Doni no chance.

With United’s progress secure Ferguson took the opportunity to give Gary Neville his first action of the season after a lengthy spell on the sidelines with an ankle injury, and his every touch drew huge cheers from the home fans.

The result represents a record 11th consecutive home win in the Champions League for United, for whom Barcelona await in the semi-finals.

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