Football: Manchester United defeat AC Milan in Champions League

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A stoppage time goal by Wayne Rooney lifted Manchester United to a 3-2 win over AC Milan at Old Trafford in Manchester. United have never defeated Milan over two legs, having lost twice to them in semi-finals, and once in the round of sixteen previously. With injuries mounting for United, they were forced to play an extremely altered back line, with John O'Shea and Gabriel Heinze in the centre of defense. Milan had a boost before the match as keeper Nelson Dida proved fit enough to play. United opted for only one striker in Wayne Rooney, while Milan did the same fielding Alberto Gilardino. The game also featured two of the best young midfielders in the world currently, with Cristiano Ronaldo for United and Kaka for AC Milan.

Manchester had a dream start to the match when Ronaldo opened the scoring after only five minutes. Dida was caught out of net as Ronaldo headed towards goal, and after slapping twice at the ball, it eventually found its way into the net. United, and Ronaldo in particular, continued to threaten the Milan goal, but the next chance fell to Michael Carrick whos stinging shot was saved well by Dida. Milan then equalized through a high qualty goal from Kaka. Kaka as he received a through ball from Seedorf, and the Brazilian sprinted past the defense and slid the ball past Van Der Sar. United continued to threaten, but nothing came of chances for both Giggs and Rooney. A curling shot by Ronaldo almost fooled Dida, but he managed to palm it away. Kaka then had a solo effort to lift Milan into the lead, as he managed to beat out three defenders, two of which collided with each other, and curl the ball past Van Der Sar. Milan continued to pressure and Kaka nearly had a hat-trick off a 30-yard drive, but Van Der Sar saved well.

United started brightly in the second half, clearly not wanting a home loss in the Champions League, and Carrick should have done better as he volleyed wide off a corner from Giggs. Kaka continued to threaten for Milan, but could not get his attempts on target. Paul Scholes then played a cheeky scooped ball into Rooney within the box, and after controlling it on his chest, the Englishman slid the ball under Dida to tie the match. United pushed for the winning goal, and they eventually earned it in stoppage time as a through ball by Giggs found Rooney, and his first time strike flew past an out of position Dida to earn Rooney the brace, and give United the advantage for the second leg.

Milans next match comes this Saturday against Torino in the Seria A as they try to clinch a Champions League berth for next season, while United take on Everton at Goodison Park, as they are in a tight race with Chelsea for the Premier League title. The second leg between the two will take place on May 2 at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan.