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Thursday, April 5, 2007

Champions League, AS Roma 2-1 Manchester United

Roma beat ten-man United
Roma beat Manchester United 2-1 in their Champions League quarter final first leg after a goal from sub Mirko Vucinic. A deflected Rodrigo Taddei goal put the hosts in front before United - who played for 58 minutes with ten men after Paul Scholes was sent-off - equalised through Wayne Rooney.

The Giallorossi began at a frantic pace, forcing a corner within the first minute. Francesco Totti's delivery was only half cleared and the ensuing shot from Taddei almost fell for Christian Panucci. David Pizarro's suspension had elicited a midfield reshuffle, with Christian Wilhelmsson patrolling the right flank, Mancini the left and Taddei operating centrally behind Totti, as Simone Perrotta dropped deep.

The switch seemed to disturb United as Scholes conceded two free-kicks on the edge of the box early on. The first was curled fractionally over by Cristian Chivu, the second drilled low by Totti and pounced on by an alert Edwin van der Sar. United's new-look defence, which had Wes Brown and John O'Shea filling in for the injured Gary Neville and Nemanja Vidić, settled after a nervy start, but the Premiership leaders were far from their fluent best. Indeed, aside from a Ryan Giggs free-kick headed over his own bar by Perrotta, United barely threatened in the opening period. Their growing frustration was epitomised by Scholes, who picked up his second yellow card for a foul on Totti in the 34th minute.

Roma immediately looked to capitalise on their numerical advantage but Perrotta was cautioned for simulation on 42 minutes, ruling him out of the second leg. They finished the first half strongly, however, Van der Sar pushing Taddei's shot around the post only for Roma to score from a quickly-taken corner seconds later. Totti threaded a pass through for Mancini in the left channel and the Brazilian's cutback found Taddei whose strike deflected off Brown and past Van der Sar.

Giggs moved into central midfield after the break yet the Italian team were buoyant and nearly scored again on 48 minutes. Totti led a lightning counterattack, springing forward and feeding Perrotta on the right, whose cross reached Taddei but this time Van der Sar was equal to the Brazilian's low effort. Just when it looked like Roma would take charge, however, Cristiano Ronaldo fired a warning to the home side, breaking free before hitting a tame attempt at Doni. That salvo gave United hope and they levelled through Rooney on 60 minutes, the England striker controlling Ole Gunnar Solskjær's cross on his chest and taking his time before slotting home emphatically.

Roma coach Luciano Spalletti reacted by sending Vučinić on for Wilhelmsson, and the change paid instant dividends. The Montenegrin international had already seen one effort saved when he rifled a shot past Van der Sar after the Dutchman had parried Mancini's stinging drive on 66 minutes. Roma finished on top as Perrotta volleyed wide from an acute angle and Totti narrowly missed the target moments later, but United resisted to limit the damage to a 2-1 deficit.

Roma: Doni, Panucci, Mexes, Chivu, Cassetti, Wilhelmsson (Vucinic 62), Taddei (Rosi 82), De Rossi, Perrotta, Mancini, Totti.Subs Not Used: Curci, Faty, Defendi, Ferrari, Okaka Chuka.

Booked: Perrotta.

Goals: Taddei 44, Vucinic 67.

Man Utd: Van der Sar, Heinze, Ferdinand, O'Shea, Brown, Ronaldo, Giggs (Saha 77), Carrick, Scholes, Rooney, Solskjaer (Fletcher 72).Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Smith, Dong, Richardson, Eagles.

Sent Off: Scholes (34).

Booked: Scholes, Solskjaer, Heinze.

Goals: Rooney 60.

Champions league, AS Roma 2-1 Manchester united extended highlights: