Rooney the star of the show as United brush Milan aside
Wayne Rooney will be the name spread across the back pages of the nation’s newspapers today after Manchester United brushed aside a poor AC Milan to progress to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
The United forward bagged two of Sir Alex Ferguson’s side’s four against the Italian giants, with both Darren Fletcher and Ji-Sung Park also finding themselves on the scoresheet in what was a convincing win in front of a capacity crowd at Old Trafford.
Prior to the game all eyes were on former United star David Beckham, who started on the bench for Milan. It marked the 34-year-old’s first return to Old Trafford in a club fixture since he left the Red Devils for Real Madrid in 2003.
United outplayed Milan all over the pitch, but particularly in the final third, where mistakes by the Serie A side were punished by an ever-alert Rooney, with the striker pouncing on every slip-up made by the makeshift Milan back four.
Particular praise has to be given to Korean midfielder Park who kept Andrea Pirlo at bay throughout the match and managed to get into a good position to grab his second goal of the season and his first in the Champions League.
Scottish international Darren Fletcher’s display in the middle of the park was the epitome of relentlessness, pushing forward and making decisive tackles in crucial areas. The 26-year-old got his just reward by scoring the home side’s fourth and final goal of the game.
Milan failed to trouble the current champions of England, with Klass-Jan Huntelaar looking particularly ineffective going forward, missing a great chance early on which, if converted, could have lead to a completely different game.
Despite having a resurgence of late, former world player of the year Ronaldinho was quiet throughout. It was a performance which summed up that of the whole Milan side who were a shadow of the team that faced Liverpool in the 2005 and 2007 finals.
As the final whistle blew, Old Trafford was a sea of green and gold, with ‘Love United – Hate Glazer’ adorning the famous Stretford End - further evidence that despite success on the pitch, United fans will not give up in their quest to rid the club of its current owners.
With Spanish giants Real Madrid knocked out by Lyon 2-1 on aggregate, Manchester United, along with Arsenal, have one less experienced European club to worry about in the quarter finals.
All eyes will be on Chelsea next week to see if all three English representatives can progress from the first knockout round when they take on Inter Milan at Stamford Bridge.