Champions League: Roma beat ManU 2-1

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> AS Roma beat Manchester United 2-1 in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals in its biggest European match in 23 years.

Updated: April 06, 2007 16:23 IST
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AS Roma beat Manchester United 2-1 in its biggest European match in 23 years. After playing for nearly an hour with a man advantage, though, the Italian club wasn't celebrating.

The victory in Wednesday's first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals leaves Roma with a slim margin for the second game in Manchester next weekend.

"When it's 11 against 10 you look for the knockout," defender Christian Panucci said. "But beating Manchester is still an accomplishment."

Montenegro forward Mirko Vucinic scored the winner in the 66th minute off a rebound, notching his first goal in European play four minutes after entering.

Crucial lead

Brazilian midfielder Rodrigo Taddei gave Roma the lead in the 44th minute, 10 minutes after Paul Scholes was sent off for his second yellow card. Wayne Rooney equalized for United in the 60th.

"We were facing a great club, one that's used to playing these competitions. The team reacted well, especially after they equalized," Roma coach Luciano Spalletti said. "It was a big test for us."

Roma is trying to reach the semifinals for the first time since 1984, when it went on to lose the European Cup final to Liverpool on penalties. The loss was United's ninth in 12 matches in Italy.

United manager Alex Ferguson issued his team an ultimatum before the game to score at least one goal.

"It was important to score a goal, and we did," Ferguson said. "We knew it was going to be tough and it was tough."

Taddei's goal came off a cross from Mancini and caught United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar going the wrong way. His shot from outside the goal box deflected slightly off United defender Wes Brown.

Rooney impresses

Rooney's goal in the 60th came with a perfect chest control and shot from the center of the area. It was the England forward's first Champions League goal since completing a hat trick in his United debut in 2004.

Rooney "showed fantastic composure in front of the goal," Ferguson said. "It will help him, of course, but it will help us more."

German referee Herbert Fandel issued cards to Scholes for fouls on Christian Wilhelmsson and Roma captain Francesco Totti, both near the midfield line.

Ferguson complained that Christian Chivu attempted to get Scholes sent off for the tackle on Totti.

"Chivu got him sent off," Ferguson said. "I have no complaint about the first booking but I don't think the referee would have sent him off if Chivu had not gone up to him and waved a card in his face.

"The referee told us this morning that anyone attempting to have a player booked would immediately be dismissed. It appears that is not the case."

While the game was shaped by Scholes' ejection, Roma controlled the start.

Taddei had a chance in the opening minute, shooting wide, and Christian Chivu's free kick four minutes later wasn't far off the mark.

Missed opportunity

United had its first opportunity in the 12th off a cross from Cristiano Ronaldo, but Rooney couldn't get the ball past Roma's Brazilian goalkeeper Alexander Doni.

Totti banged a free kick through United's wall in the 14th but Van der Sar was waiting.

Rooney had another chance in the 21st and Doni came out of his goal to swipe the ball away before the England forward could get to it.

Roma midfielder Simone Perrotta received a yellow card for diving in the 42nd and will miss the return leg due to accumulated cards.

Van der Sar stretched out to tip a shot by Taddei wide in the 43rd and the Brazilian scored a minute later.

Ronaldo had his best chance of the game in the 49th when he found himself all alone in front of the goal, but Doni stopped the Portugal winger's shot from 13 meters (yards).

"We controlled him fairly well besides that counterattack," said Panucci, who marked Ronaldo for most of the match.

"If he starts off with the ball at his feet you can't catch him. It seems like he's (motorcyclist) Valentino Rossi. If you give me a motor like his, maybe I could stay with him."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer received a yellow card for a foul on Mancini in the 70th and United defender Gabriel Heinze was cautioned in the 87th.

Roma pressed for a third goal and another long-distance attempt by Totti went wide in the 83rd.

"We tried to score from the edge of the area several times and we were unlucky," Spalletti said. "We weren't very lucky and they did well to convert that one occasion. A small advantage means nothing. It's still 50-50."

The match was marred by violence both before and during the game. Several United supporters were injured in clashes outside the stadium before kickoff and police battled with the English team's supporters during the match.

The return leg is scheduled for next week in Manchester.

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