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Sunday, March 11, 2007

FA Cup, Middlesbrough 2-2 Manchester United

Ronaldo keeps United's FA Cup treble dreams alive
Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty earned Manchester United a replay after Middlesbrough threatened a shock in the FA Cup quarter-final at the Riverside.

Wayne Rooney gave United the lead, drilling low past Mark Schwarzer. Boro equalised when Lee Cattermole fired in just before half-time. Terrible defending from United saw George Boateng head Boro in front after the break. However, a handball by the Dutchman in the penalty area led to Cristiano Ronaldo's equaliser from the spot.

Manchester United suffered a blow before the kick-off when goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar sustained a calf injury and had to be replaced by Tomasz Kuszczak.

The youngster was soon in action as he saved a Stewart Downing effort after the England winger had been put through by an intelligent pass from Julio Arca.

But Manchester United took the lead on 23 minutes when Rooney shot low past Schwarzer after collecting a pass from Ryan Giggs. It was a deserved advantage for United who had looked the more threatening. Rooney had already fired just wide after some superb build-up play involving Gabriel Heinze and Henrik Larsson, playing his last game for the club before returning to Sweden.

Ryan Giggs almost doubled the lead as he shot left-footed against the far post following a Gary Neville cross. So close for United.

Boro made it 1-1 just before the break. Kuszczak couldn’t properly clear the ball, Arca headed it back into the danger zone and Cattermole controlled and volleyed expertly into the net.

Things got worse for Sir Alex Ferguson’s team just the other side of half-time when Boateng rose completely unmarked to head Downing’s corner past Kuszczak. Dreadful defending from United who left the Dutchman all alone.

Manchester United were refused a penalty when Rooney went down under a challenge from Stuart Parnaby. Manchester United levelled on 66 minutes when the ball struck Boateng’s raised arm in the area. Ronaldo drilled the resulting penalty low past Schwarzer.

Jonathan Woodgate did well to block from Giggs at the death and the tie will now go to a replay on March 19.

Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Parnaby, Woodgate, Pogatetz, Taylor, Cattermole (Morrison 80), Boateng (Euell 89), Arca, Downing, Yakubu, Viduka (Lee 89).
Subs Not Used: Jones, Xavier.

Goals: Cattermole 45, Boateng 47.

Man Utd: Kuszczak, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Heinze, Ronaldo, O'Shea, Carrick, Giggs, Rooney, Larsson.
Subs Not Used: Brown, Park, Smith, Richardson, Eagles.

Booked: Larsson.

Goals: Rooney 23, Ronaldo 68 pen.

FA Cup, Middlesbrough 2-2 Manchester United highlights & goals: