Fri, Apr 06, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Roma downs 10-man Manchester Utd

AFP , ROME

AS Roma's goalkeeper Alexandre Doni of Brazil, right, catches the ball next to Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo, left, as he is pushed by Marco Cassetti, bottom, during their Champions League quarter-final, first-leg match.

PHOTO: AP

Paul Scholes was sent off in the first half as Manchester United lost 2-1 to Roma in a highly charged Champions League quarter-final, first leg here on Wednesday.

United were reduced to 10 men in the 34th minute when Scholes picked up a second yellow card, the first one having already ruled him out of the second leg at Old Trafford.

Roma exploited their numerical advantage a minute before the break when Rodrigo Taddei's deflected shot beat Edwin van der Sar.

The goal sparked ugly scenes as United fans -- reacting to spiteful provocation from the home supporters -- were baton-charged by Italian police.

United coach Alex Ferguson had said an away goal would be vital if his side were to reach the semis.

And he got his wish on the hour as Wayne Rooney netted his first Champions League goal for two-and-a-half years with a cool finish after a swift United counter-attack.

"To be fair I wasn't really thinking about it being a millstone around my neck more that it was the quarter-finals of the Champions League," said Rooney. "It was a good goal and being down to 10 men we needed one and this is not a bad result."

But Roma refused to let their heads drop and substitute Mirko Vucinic restored their lead in the 66th minute, hammering home the loose ball after van der Sar had only half cleared Mancini's venomous strike with his fists.

Ferguson seemed satisfied with the result, though, he was far from happy with the referee.

"Being against 11 possibly 12 men for at least an hour it was a good result," Ferguson said. "The referee didn't give a decision for us tonight, but I can't complain about the sending off. However the referee said before the match that he would book anyone asking for someone to be booked and yet a Roma player demanded the booking for Scholes and was not punished and that is not acceptable."

His Roma counterpart Luciano Spalletti said that he thought they could have won more convincingly.

"With more luck we could have won by more," he said. "When they were unable to score we had our hands on the scruff of the neck of the match and I thought we would make it 2-0. A draw next week will be good enough but we still can't be confident of going through."

While Rooney ended his goal drought the other player desperately waiting for a Champions League goal, Cristiano Ronaldo, drew greater praise from Roma veteran defender Christian Panucci.

"If he takes off with the ball you will never catch him," said the former Italy international. "You could compare him to motorcycling world champion Valentino Rossi. If I was given the same engine as him then perhaps I could catch him."

Roma's joy at defeating the English Premiership leaders was tempered slightly by a booking for midfielder Simone Perrotta, who like Scholes will miss next week's return match.

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