Ronaldo the hero as Manchester United set up Arsenal date

April 16th, 2009 - 12:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Arsenal Hamburg, April 16 (DPA) A Cristiano Ronaldo wonder goal from all of 40 metres helped Manchester United beat Porto 1-0 to book their place in the semi-finals of football’s Champions League.
United will now meet fellow English Premier League side Arsenal after goals from Theo Walcott, Emmanuel Adebayor and a Robin van Persie penalty ensured a 3-0 win over Spanish side Villarreal for the Gunners, who progress to the last four 4-1 on aggregate Wednesday.

With Porto holding the advantage on the away goals rule after the quarter-final first-leg at Old Trafford finished 2-2, United needed to score to have any chance of progressing and Ronaldo duly obliged with his unstoppable strike after just six minutes.

He was deployed centrally, with Wayne Rooney playing wide on the right, something Ronaldo admitted he finds tough.

“It’s not my favourite position, but maybe if I play there I’ll learn a few points,” he said.

“I’ll play right wing, left wing, centre it doesn’t matter.”

Although Porto came close themselves five minutes before the break when Bruno Alves headed narrowly wide, United dominated possession in the first period and could have gone two up on 43 minutes when John O’Shea headed a Ryan Giggs cross into the path of Nemanja Vidic but the Serbian defender sent the ball over the bar from five metres.

Porto started the second half the brighter and Mariano Gonzalez should have done better than heading tamely wide when allowed to rise unchallenged in the United area on 54 minutes.

Hulk fired a free kick straight at Edwin van der Sar four minutes later but the Dutch goalkeeper almost gifted Porto a goal when he badly misjudged a corner from the right but Rolando sent his header over from a tight angle.

Porto continued to press with time running out, with the best chance falling to Lisandro five minutes from time but his weak shot was easily saved by Van der Sar.

United hung on to become the first English side to win a competitive match at Porto and progress 3-2 on aggregate.

“They did well,” said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. “They showed good concentration at the back.

“They defended really well. If we get back to that stability at the back, we can do well.”

Next up for United are Arsenal, who had a much easier time of it against Villarreal at the Emirates.

Arsenal only needed to keep a clean sheet to be certain of qualifying but the fans’ nerves were settled after 10 minutes when Cesc Fabregas backheeled Emmanuel Eboue’s pass into the path of Walcott, who clinically dispatched the ball past goalkeeper Diego Lopez to make it 1-0.

Adebayor made it 2-0 on the hour mark and any faint hopes Villarreal had of a comeback ended nine minutes later when Arsenal were awarded a penalty when Diego Godin was adjudged to have fouled Walcott in the area.

Sebastian Eguren subsequently saw red after picking up a second yellow card for protesting before Van Persie slotted the spot kick home to make it 3-0 as Arsene Wenger’s side eliminated Villarreal for the second time in three years.

“This was a great win for us,” said Arsenal’s Brazilian substitute Denilson, who added that the crowd “really got behind us and helped us”.

Villarreal’s veteran full-back Angel, for his part, said that “it is really sad for us to again lose to Arsenal”, whilst Chilean striker Matias Fernandez claimed that “we were not up to our usual standards tonight.”

In Tuesday’s quarter-final matches, Chelsea drew 4-4 with Liverpool to progress 7-5 on aggregate while Barcelona drew 1-1 with Bayern Munich to prevail 5-1 on aggregate.

The semi-finals are scheduled for April 28 and 29 with the return legs on May 5 and 6.

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