United sail past Roma to Champions League semi-finals

April 10th, 2008 - 12:26 pm ICT by admin  

Manchester, April 10 (DPA) Manchester United secured a place in the Champions League semi-finals as a Carlos Tevez goal gave them a 3-0 aggregate win over visiting Roma. United appeared set for a defensive game Wednesday when they started off without their top scorers Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, who then came on in the second half.

But Alex Ferguson’s side still displayed an impressive and well organised game that showed unexpected flaws in Roma’s defence.

The Rome side again lamented the absence of captain Francesco Totti and hardly looked like a team in desperate need to reverse a two-goal deficit from the first leg, particularly when Daniele De Rossi on 30 minutes fired a penalty high above the bar.

Chances had been fairly even until that point, with United’s Owen Hargreaves, Ryan Giggs and Anderson having their efforts blocked by an in-form Alexander Doni.

Mirko Vucinic and Brazilian Mancini were the first to threaten for Roma, but found Edwin van der Sar ready to parry their shots.

Roma had a chance to begin a comeback when Wes Brown floored Mancini as the Brazilian spurted on the left flank, but De Rossi could only pull his jersey to his face to hide the disappointment of squandering the spot kick.

Van der Sar opened the second half saving a long-range drive from Vucinic as Roma stepped up their pressure and found help from defender Mikael Silvestre who blocked a sure-fire shot from Rodrigo Taddei.

The Dutch goalkeeper denied Brazilian defender Juan when he tried a header that turned out to be Roma’s last telling effort before the hosts’ goal.

Tevez fought hard to hold on to the ball in midfield and sent away Hargreaves on the right flank to receive his cross and stun Doni with a diving header aimed at the goal’s far corner.

The 70th-minute blow crushed Roma’s hopes to progress past the tournament’s stage where United stopped them last year with a far harsher 7-1 drubbing.

The guests’ reaction lacked grit and United came close again when a late effort from Park was saved by the onrushing Doni.

“The game had to be like this, but we should have played better and taken advantage of what we created. I expected to do less as regards the game, instead we had good chances, although not in the beginning when Doni was very clever,” Roma coach Luciano Spalletti said.

“After the start we improved our game and, beside the spot kick, we played good football.

“The game would have been different if we had scored the spot kick, both as regards my team and for Manchester.”

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said that he was pleased to have seen his side go through to the next round. “We had the opening spell and then they missed the penalty kick. I think that would have made a big difference if they had scored.”

He criticized the awarding of the penalty though. “It was a bad decision.”

United established a new record with their 11th victory in a row, prompting Ferguson to say that they were very proud. “I think we have a very special team and we will go to Barcelona looking for a result. We can’t go there and be negative.”

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