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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

AC Milan Vs. Manchester Untied Match Report

United recovered from a nightmare start to romp to an impressive - and potentially decisive - away victory against AC Milan in the Champions League second round, first leg.

Ronaldinho put the Rossoneri ahead inside three minutes and the hosts spurned several opportunities to further their advantage before Paul Scholes' fortunate leveller 10 minutes before half-time. The Reds dominated midfield after the break, however, and two headers from Wayne Rooney gave Sir Alex Ferguson's side two more priceless away goals.

Clarence Seedorf impishly back-heeled the hosts back into the tie and Michael Carrick was dismissed for a second booking as Milan finished strongly, but United's first ever victory at the San Siro gives the Reds a vital lead ahead of the second leg at Old Trafford.

Much of the pre-match fanfare centred around David Beckham's first clash with United since leaving Old Trafford in 2003. In truth, it was Ronaldinho, the man unsuccessfully earmarked to replace Beckham, who had the greater influence for Leonardo's side.

United could hardly have made a worse start. Just over two minutes had passed when Patrice Evra's attempt to clear Beckham's free-kick only went as far as Ronaldinho, and the Brazilian's right-footed volley took a telling deflection off Carrick and flew past the committed Edwin van der Sar.

The Reds were rocked, while Milan were galvanised into dominance. Ronaldinho, clearly relishing the occasion, drew a smart stop from van der Sar with another close-range effort as the hosts aimed to forge a greater advantage.

An errant long-distance shot from Scholes marked United's first attempt on goal, and heralded a belated entry to the action for the visitors.

Nani became an increasingly influential figure as the Reds warmed to the task and increasingly controlled midfield.

There was always the danger of Ronaldinho, however, who took advantage of a lax piece of play from Scholes to nab possession and race goalwards. The Brazilian's repeated stepovers took him past Rio Ferdinand, but his subsequent tumble on the edge of the area was deemed to be simulation rather than a foul by the United skipper.

That episode was symptomatic of a worrying affliction throughout United's display, as the Reds' usually assured possession play went AWOL. Milan spurned several opportunities without playing any telling role in their creation, most notably when Klaas-Jan Huntelaar drilled narrowly wide after Jonny Evans' panicked clearance.

Sir Alex Ferguson was particularly irritated by Evans' error, and made his ire known soon afterwards. Fortunately, it came as the young Northern Irishman was jogging back to his position after United had drawn level.

A wonderful passing move featuring Michael Carrick, Nani, Ji-sung Park and Scholes culminated in Darren Fletcher drilling in a superb low cross from the right wing. Scholes raced into the box and attempted to batter home the volley, but instead it struck his standing leg and spun past Dida via the inside of the post. Good fortune indeed in its execution and timing, coming after a string of missed chances for the hosts.

While Milan were stunned to be pegged back, Ronaldinho took parity as a personal affront against his own superb efforts, and he quickly drew another smart stop from van der Sar from 25 yards after brilliantly fashioning space for himself.

Deserved or not, United went into the interval level. Little over a minute after the restart, Darren Fletcher headed Nani's cross wide from a decent position and passed up the chance to give the Reds an unlikely lead. The game's open nature continued and, just two minutes later, Alexandre Pato headed wastefully over after finding space between Evans and Evra.

With Beckham, Ronaldinho and Andrea Pirlo on the field, Milan always carried menace from set-pieces. The latter forced van der Sar into a superb one-handed stop with a 35-yard piledriver which was bound for the Dutchman's top corner as Milan continued to seek an advantage.

Not that United were happy to sit on a score draw, however. Although Ronaldinho again forced a plunging save from van der Sar, Rooney had three efforts in the space of 10 minutes - twice off-target from distance, once drawing a comfortable low stop from Dida.

Antonio Valencia was introduced shortly after Rooney's third effort, and he needed just two minutes to provide United's telling goal. The Ecuadorian picked the ball up on the right flank, took a touch to go past Giuseppe Favalli and stood up a fine cross to the back post, where Rooney outjumped Daniele Bonera to send a superb header drifting into the far top corner.

The travelling support, tucked away high up in the stand behind the goal, went wild. Milan were shattered, and United dominated possession from thereon. Valencia, Park and Fletcher tormented the hosts in support of Rooney, who drilled fractionally wide from 20 yards.

He didn't have to wait long for his second, however, and it arrived with 17 minutes remaining. Fletcher picked up Rooney's knock down, some 35 yards from goal and was criminally given as much time as he liked to advance and curl in a teasing delivery behind Alessandro Nesta and in a perfect area to nod in his second.

Valencia continued to torment Favalli, drilling in one particularly dangerous cross which just evaded Rooney, while the England striker was narrowly denied a hat-trick as his free-kick curled just past Dida's post. But, just when Milan seemed buried, back they roared, with Ronaldinho again instrumental.

The Brazilian crept into the United area and, despite a cluster of defenders around him, curled in a delightful cross for substitute Seedorf to beautifully back-heel beyond van der Sar.

With an unlikely route back into the tie secured, the hosts roared back in the final few minutes. Pippo Inzaghi lashed over, Thiago Silva headed wastefully off-target and Carrick's superb evening was spoiled when he picked up a second yellow card for allegedly kicking the ball away in injury-time.

Nevertheless, United held on to register a first ever victory in the San Siro, set a new European record of 16 away games without defeat and, most crucially, establish a vital advantage ahead of the second leg at Old Trafford in three weeks' time.

AC Milan Vs. Manchester Untied Highlights Video Clips

AC Milan [2 - 3] Manchester United
3' [1 - 0] Ronaldinho
36' [1 - 1] P. Scholes
66' [1 - 2] W. Rooney
74' [1 - 3] W. Rooney
85' [2 - 3] C. Seedorf

1-0 Ronaldinho 3'

1-1 Scholes 36'

1-2 Rooney 66'

1-3 Rooney 74'

2-3 Seedorf 85'