Ronaldo's 30th completes perfect 10 for United

Other News Materials 5 March 2008 03:06 (UTC +04:00)
Ronaldo's 30th completes perfect 10 for United

( AFP ) - Cristiano Ronaldo's 30th goal in 30 matches this season sent Manchester United into the last eight of the Champions League at the expense of French champions Lyon.

The Portuguese winger's close-range strike just before half-time secured a 1-0 win that sent Sir Alex Ferguson's side through 2-1 on aggregate.

The win also represented a little bit of history with United's tenth straight Champions League victory at Old Trafford equaling the competition record for consecutive home wins set by Juventus in 1997.

It left Ferguson happy, but also a little frustrated that United hadn't given the scoreline a proper reflection of the match.

"We should have made more of our chances and possession," said the Scotsman.

"We made it difficult for ourselves," he growled.

Ferguson, who could emulate the 1999 win with a treble trophy haul as United are still in contention for the domestic double with the title and FA Cup in their sights, lauded Ronaldo for his scoring achievement.

"It is fantastic. It takes a rare player to do that and it is a great contribution.

"There was no target set for him at the beginning of the season, but that is what we look for in our young squad.

"Ten wins in 10 home matches is a marvelous achievement, and I would put that down to apart from the players that the pitch has improved.

"The squad is very strong now and you can see that in our midfield which changes all the time and will be different for the FA Cup match this weekend (against Portsmouth in the quarter-finals)."

Alain Perrin, his Lyon counterpart and a former Portsmouth manager, conceded that United had deserved to go through but insisted that despite evidence to the contrary during the whole of this season both domestically and in Europe that the side was still of the highest level.

"We began the Champions League badly but the team showed its resourcefulness and its quality and we have more than shown that we deserve to be playing at this level," said Perrin, whose side face a top two league battle with Bordeaux on Sunday.

United's first moment of menace came when Ronaldo burst into the box from the right, leaving Italy defender Fabio Grosso on his backside before being denied by Cris's block on the edge of the six-yard box.

Darren Fletcher, unexpectedly included in the starting line-up from which both Owen Hargreaves and Paul Scholes were missing, then fired wide after being teed-up on the edge of the area by Michael Carrick.

The match was being played at an impressive tempo but neither side really threatened until Lyon's Swedish midfielder Kim Kallstrom produced a venomous shot that Edwin van der Sar had to beat away just before the half-hour.

United responded with a neat passing movement that ended with Cris again frustrating Ronaldo, this time with a headed interception.

But United's talisman was not long to be denied, however. Four minutes from the break, Fletcher threaded a pass to Wayne Rooney on the edge of the area.

The England forward spread the ball wide and after Nani had helped it on to the overlapping Wes Brown, the right-back's low cross generated panic in the Lyon defence.

Anderson stabbed the loose ball goalwards, Ronaldo pounced on it, made himself half a yard of space and fired past Gregory Coupet in the Lyon goal.

Lyon were unable to create clear chances of their own and, with his side slipping out of the competition, Perrin introduced Kader Keita.

The substitute came agonisingly close to claiming an equaliser with 17 minutes left. Having played a one-two with Karim Benzema to get behind Brown, the winger beat van der Sar at his near post only to see his low drive come back off the upright.

Two minutes later, Rooney was gifted a chance to kill the contest. A careless attempted pass-back by ben Arfa left him deep inside the area with only Coupet to beat but the United forward could only muster a tame shot straight at the goalkeeper.

It was a miss that could have proved costly in the tense final minutes but United held their nerve to preserve their winning record.