Roma continued to pressure but against the run of play, Ronaldo popped up with a powerful header that gave United some breathing room. Rooney started the play with a sublime turn against Mexes. He then played in Paul Scholes who drifted a soft cross back across the box for Ronaldo to run onto.
I thought at half-time that Roma should sub Mancini off and bring on Guily. Mancini was more often than not wasteful in possession and while Roma enjoyed longer spells of possession around the United penalty area, they were doing little with those chances. Roma turned up the intensity to start the second half and United look to be on the ropes. Around the hour mark, Edwin Van der Sar came up with a majestic save from a Vu?ini? header to keep United in the lead.
The overall flow of the match started to change a few minutes after Owen Hargreaves with the Van der Sar save the wake-up call that United needed. With Hargreaves on the field, Carrick and Scholes were able to more fully boss the midfield area and one can only imagine how the match might have gone had Hargreaves started in place of Anderson. The young Brazilian does show flashes of excellence but looks a bit too unpolished for this level of competition at the moment. I would be surprised if he started the second leg at Old Trafford.
The game was effectively killed off when a mix-up in the Roma backline allowed Wayne Rooney to pounce and toe-poke home his 6th goal in 7 games against Italian teams. Wes Brown’s deep cross was kept alive by some good hussle from Ji Sung Park who nodded the ball back into the middle where Doni intercepted but spilled it to Rooney’s feet and he wasted no time in slotting it home. A second away goal makes Roma’s job monumental for the return leg as it is rare that a 2-0 away lead is squandered in the Champions League knockout phase.
I think had Roma taken advantage of their early dominance that this match could have been much different but United turned in a very clinical and professional performance. They got more than they could have hoped for and are setup very nicely to advance to the semis. The job is not done yet but barring a major collapse at Old Trafford, they should progress.
United’s thoughts will start turn to their probable semi-final opponents, Barcelona. 17-year-old striker Bojan Krkic struck the all-important away goal in the 12th minute to give his team a slender victory over Schalke in Gelsenkirchen.