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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Seventh Heaven at the Theatre of Dreams

Man Utd 7 AS Roma 1
(Man Utd won 8-3 on aggregate)
Old Trafford, Manchester, England, UK
11th April 2007
Man Utd recorded their highest European win by thrashing AS Roma 7-1 in the return leg of UEFA Champions League quarter finals. A scintillating performance by the home side torn Roma apart within the first 19 minutes of the match in which Michael Carrick opened the scoring with a delicate lob in the 11th minute; Alan Smith with his first goal in 18 months in the 17th minute and Wayne Rooney's goal in the 19th minute. Cristiano Ronaldo proved once again he's a strong candidate for the PFA Footballer of the Year Award by scoring from 20 yards with his right foot after another sublime skills and pace. Many would have expected Roma to reorganise in the second half but they still looked fragile at the back. Four minutes after the game restarted, Ryan Giggs' cross from the left and Ronaldo's tap in put the match beyond doubt. Carrick's long range effort from 24 yards out went into the back of Alexander Doni's net once more in the 60th minute. Daniele de Rossi scored a consolation 9 minutes later for the visitor but the home side seem not to be satisfied and substitute Patrice Evra put the score into the record book 9 minutes before regular time. The Eternal City giants were clearly swept away by the more hunger United team.
Post Match Response
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was clearly delighted with his players. He said the performance was fantastic and the scoreline was totally out of his expectations. He showed his praises to every player in the team in particular Smith who scored his first competitive goal since November 2005. "Smith deserved it more than anyone else," said the Scotsman. He has no preference who to play against in the next round.
Roma coach Luciano Spalletti blamed the poor performance to his team lack of experience after being one nil down too early in the match. He said the United players' enthusiasm cost his team dearly in the early stages of the match. Captain Francesco Totti said it was the saddest day in his football life. He said his team inability to handle Ronaldo and come back from 0-3 down cost them the match. But he hope to play this kind of games again in the future and to win to pay back the traveling fans.
Man Utd was simply brilliant and in their own league last night. AS Roma wasn't playing too bad but they were totally outclassed by the more determined and confident United side. The away goal by Rooney proved to be crucial and I believe it is the driving force behind United's greatest come back. United 'tinkerman' Sir Alex put a 4-2-3-1 formation clearly showed it to us that United was determined to get an early goal and the move seem to pay back. Smith was alone at the front and supported by Ronaldo, Rooney and Giggs, and Darren Fletcher and Carrick behind these four players. The attacking options up front and fast passing game clearly torn Roma apart. I do believe with Roma coach that the inexperienced of his players especially in big games was the key to their humiliation. They never seem to recover after 3-0 down in the first 20 minutes. Every United player showed alot of hunger since the first minute of the match. Ronaldo stole the limelight once more when he was declared the man of the match. But for me, Giggs was the best player in this match. His skills, touch, pace and passings are just simply unbelievable. Four of United goals were assisted by Giggs. I think he won the match for us but every team member should be given the credits. It's really good to see different players scored for United. Carrick is usually not a goal-scoring player but two brilliant long range efforts proved everyone wrong. Evra first match since he came back from injury and scored will be a huge boost to the team. Smith first goal in 18 months is hugely important for him to build up his best again since his move from Leeds United. Amazing performance by Fletcher and Gabriel Heinze shouldn't be left out.
Valencia 1 Chelsea 2
(Chelsea won 3-2 on aggregate)
Mestalla Stadium, Spain
11th April 2007
Chelsea had another great escape last night after Michael Essien's goal in the dying minutes put Jose Mourinho's multi-millions dollar team into the last four of the Champions League. Fernando Morientes put the home team ahead in the 32th minute before Andrei Shevchenko equalised in the 52th minute. The match looked certain to go into extra time but it was Essien's long range effort that beat Santiago Canizares in the last minute of regular time after the Spanish international goalie made one of the best saves ever seen in European football from Michael Ballack's header. Mourinho was full of praises for his players and said they're absolutely unbelievable. He said that every player in the team played like a beast and they deserved to win the match as they were the better team in the second half.

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