Ronaldo and Rooney steer United to win over Roma

Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney gave Manchester United a clinical 2-0 win at AS Roma on Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal.

Portugal forward Ronaldo soared inside the area six minutes before the break to head home a Paul Scholes cross after Rooney had skipped away from Philippe Mexes.

Rooney then poked home the second goal himself in the 66th minute after a header from South Korean midfielder Ji-Sung Park sparked a goalmouth scramble.

”It’s a very good performance,” Ronaldo told ITV. ”Everyone knows it’s a tough game. Roma played very well, but we created a few chances. I think we deserved this win.”

United manager Alex Ferguson added that the victory was far from comfortable, saying: ”It’s a very good team we played against of course. We had to defend really well at times.”

Roma had nothing to show for some fluid football and have a massive task in next Wednesday’s return at Old Trafford, where they lost 7-1 at the same stage of the competition last season.

”It is clear that when we conceded the second goal I wasn’t happy but it was the only thing I wasn’t happy with,” Roma coach Luciano Spalletti told Sky Italia.

”In my opinion we have played the game we had to play. The first 20 minutes of the second half we deserved more.”

Shaky start

The English champions made a shaky start at the Stadio Olimpico and their Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was lucky to get away with a risky early clearance.

Roma defender Christian Panucci then headed just over the bar from a corner in the 12th.

United tried to fashion a response but Brazilian midfielder Anderson hoofed their first effort well off target and Ronaldo drilled a long-distance freekick wide.

The hosts continued to look dangerous and Montengro striker Mirko Vucinic hit a powerful strike over the bar but it was Ronaldo who gave United the lead to stun the home fans.

Roma tried to respond and Vucinic squandered a superb chance to equalise with only Van der Sar to beat soon after the goal.

A determined Roma, who were without injured captain Francesco Totti, made a bright start to the second half.

Fullback Max Tonetto come close with a powerful effort and almost surprised Van der Sar with a cross-come-shot, while Panucci blasted over from short range.

Van der Sar produced a superb reflex save from a Vucinic header in the 62nd and United looked to be struggling before Rooney claimed his fourth goal in five games against Roma.

Ronaldo hit the post with a shot from outside the area and midfielder Michael Carrick nearly made it 3-0 with another long-range strike.

Rooney then struck the ball wide from a good position and Ronaldo volleyed just over as the home side began to lose heart in the closing stages. – Reuters 2008

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