Real Madrid beat Manchester United 3-1

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Raul Gonzalez scored two goals to help Real Madrid beat Manchester United 3-1 in the first leg of the Champions Cup quarterfinals while AC Milan held Ajax to a

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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Raul Gonzalez scored two goals Tuesday as nine-time champion Real Madrid beat Manchester United 3-1 in the first leg of the Champions Cup quarterfinals while AC Milan held host Ajax to a 0-0 draw. In Madrid, Spain, Raul, the all-time leading scorer in the Champions League, netted his 42nd and 43rd goals. Luis Figo scored the first for Madrid. United, which was repeatedly exposed by Madrid's flair in the first half, got a crucial away goal from Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy in the 52nd minute. Defending champion Madrid was pushed back at first, with midfielder Paul Scholes and Van Nistelrooy both coming close. But Madrid took the lead in the 12th minute when Figo curled the ball toward goal with what looked like an innocuous cross. Manchester United goalkeeper Fabian Barthez was well off his line, however, and the ball sailed over the Frenchman's head and into the net. "They mesmerized us with their passing and they've got some terrific players," Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson said. "We had a few chances ourselves and should have done better." Madrid doubled its lead in the 28th minute as French star Zinedine Zidane moved the ball to Raul, who beat Barthez at his near post. In a frantic 32nd minute, Barthez redeemed himself by tipping away a piledriver by Brazilian international Roberto Carlos and Van Nistelrooy hit the side-netting after Ryan Giggs mounted a swift counterattack. "We had a marvelous first half, but Manchester fought back after halftime and created chances, too. In the end, we weren't able to finish our opponent off," Madrid coach Vicente del Bosque said. "The quarterfinal is still wide open," he said. Four minutes into the second half, United fell three goals behind when Figo laid the ball back to an unmarked Raul at the edge of the area. The star striker sent a low shot into the net. "The goals were bad goals. If we score at home at Old Trafford the place will come alight," Ferguson said. Three minutes later, United scored the away goal when Van Nistelrooy headed home after goalkeeper Iker Casillas had parried Giggs' shot. The Dutch striker is the leading scorer in this season's Champions League with 11 goals in eight matches and United's all-time scorer in the competition with 23 goals. Manchester United had several chances to get another goal - which would give them a precious second away goal in the two-leg series - but couldn't find the net. "I think it's a fair result. We had our moments and I thought some of our attacking play was good in the second half," Ferguson said. "We got that vital away goal and that may be the best thing that came out for us tonight." The two teams have been paired three times in the Champions Cup, with the victorious team going on to win the competition each time. Manchester United has won Europe's most important club trophy twice. The winner will play either Juventus or FC Barcelona. Ajax, AC Milan play goalless draw In Amsterdam, Netherlands, Ajax had the better of a combative 0-0 draw with AC Milan. Milan started strong as striker Andriy Shevchenko thumped a close-range drive straight at Ajax goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont in the fifth minute, but Ajax looked increasingly confident as the half wore on. Ajax's Zlatan Ibrahimovic fired a cannon from just outside the penalty box in the 23rd minute but Milan 'keeper Dida was well placed to save. The Dutch champion's better passing secured a territorial advantage but few open chances. "We created too little but apart from that we played well," Ajax coach Ronald Koeman said. "We're certainly not without chances in the second leg with 0-0 as a starting position." Milan midfielder Massimo Ambrosini was fortunate to see his glancing header go past his own post and Rafael van der Vaart rose impressively between two Italian defenders but failed to get enough power on his header to trouble Dida. When ex-Ajax star Clarence Seedorf left the field injured in the 27th minute to howls of derision from the home fans, it left Van der Vaart temporarily the only Dutchman on the pitch. Seedorf played for Ajax in the 1995 Champions League final win over Milan. "He has a problem with his right knee but we won't know how bad it is until tomorrow," Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said. Ajax is 3-1 against Milan in the Champions League, including winning the 1995 title. On Wednesday, Inter Milan hosts Valencia and Juventus hosts Barcelona. Manchester United will entertain Real Madrid in the return leg on April 23. Milan will host Ajax the same day. (AP)

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