Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rooney's Late Winner Gives United The Edge

UEFA Champions League
Semi Finals 1st Leg

Man Utd 3 - 2 AC Milan

MU - Ronaldo (5min), Rooney (59min, 90min);
AC - Kaka (22min, 37min);

Match Highlights:

With the newspapers and the press hyping up the 'battle of the wonderkids' prior to the game, who are supposedly Ronaldo of ManYoo and Kaka of AC Milan, the 'forgotten' wonderkid of England, Wayne Rooney, scored a late winner like a warning to the rest to not forget about him and his exceptional talents.

For too long, he failed to perform at the highest level in club football, which is the Champions League and before United faced Roma previously in the quarter finals, Rooney failed to score in the competition for 3 whole years.

But with the confidence and belief flooding back in Rooney, he has now scored 5 goals in his last 3 appearances in the Champions League and how important were they? The away goal in Roma gave United the saving grace and they managed to built on that away goal with a 7-1 thumping.

And last night, Rooney might have scored the goal that become the decider of the tie or in someway, giving ManYoo the slight advantage going into the second leg in San Siro.

With ManYoo losing a hell lot of key players such as Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville, they had to make do with a makeshift defensive unit consisting of Brown and Heinze, who didn't have the experience working with each other until last night. O'Shea was on the right while Evra recovered in time to make it into the squad.

With a defence like this, many neutrals are favouring the Italians as they believe that their attack will tear ManYoo apart while they experience will take them to where Roma can't. They're half right there, because there defence still couldn't cope with ManYoo's attack.

In a somewhat surprising manner, ManYoo took the lead in as early as the sixth minute. Dida, once again exposing his own flaws, came out of his line for Giggs' corner and was caught totally in no man's land. Ronaldo's free header hit his shoulder instead and the hapless Brazilian could only see the ball sailing into the net.

It was a poor start for Milan as they lost concentration far too early in the game but Kaka turned on style to turn the tide against United with an twinkle of an eye. One would wonder how would Milan do without Kaka as the playmaker plays an extremely influential role in the team.

Experienced Dutch midfielder, Clarence Seedorf, sends a inch perfect pass into the path of Kaka, who outpaced Brown and Heinze before firing it past a stranded van der Sar. It caught the ManYoo defence asleep but can't really fault the defenders as Kaka was virtually unstoppable in this instance.

But the next time round, Heinze and Evra will have to shoulder the majority of the blame as their comical defending allowed Kaka to score his second of the game and marked a major dent in United's chance of going into the finals.

As Kaka appeared down the right, he flicked the ball over the on rushing Heinze, who had a torrid time dealing with the Brazilian and his effort was stopped in it's track by his own player. Evra made a mistake that baffles everyone after he jumped and got in the way of Heinze while Kaka waved past the duo before slotting the ball past van der Sar in the calmest of fashion.

Man Utd continued to lose ground while Ronaldo wasn't at his influential best. Scholes was annonymous while the rest were pretty much kept quiet under the old guards of Maldini and Nesta.

Turning point of the game came and it was the injury of Italian midfield destroyer, Gennaro Gattuso, who was stretched off. After he was taken off, Milan lost their shape totally and it highlighted the importance of Gattuso within the team.

Without him, Pirlo was horribly exposed and then, United took the initiative and ran rings round their midfield. Scholes began to appear in the limelight while Ronaldo and Giggs looked more involved.

While Milan were still threatening down the other end of the pitch with counter attacks, United carried out one of the sneak attacks themselves and Rooney was at the end of the move with a composed finish. With the Milan box filled up with defenders, Scholes took a deft touch and lifted the ball into Rooney's path. It was a simple yet clinical move that puts United back in the driving seat.

But the biggest surprise came when Rooney fired home the winner in the last minute of the game. It was yet another brilliant finish from the English striker as Dida left his near post uncovered. Giggs' lay off found Rooney and the striker didn't even take a glance at the goal before firing it.

That goal could very well be the decider of the tie although it's still too early to conclude. But it was a goal of great importance as now, they'll believe that they can do the job at the San Siro with at least a goal cushion.


gunther said...

I do agree. Gattuso going out was very important to Milan.Till he left,United couldn't run their usual game. I feel he should return in time in Milan, should have the edge. Then again, United might be in full force in terms of defence. No onereally know but brilliant game nevertheless


Yes, if he comes back in time for the return leg, it'll be a huge boost to Milan.

United will be without Evra so they still might be a little stretched at the back though.

psychohare said...

Kaka has proven that he can shine at the highest level. Has Ronaldo done it yet? not yet imo... Pele was spot on when he commented that Ronaldo's too young.
Serie A is just not as well publicized as EPL, which is why Kaka is often overlooked.
im definitely rooting for Milan to win the 2nd leg, i wanna see a repeat of 2005's final, and like Gerrard said, this time we're gonna prove that we didnt win coz of a fluke...