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Cristiano Ronaldo, a man for all situations
April 2nd, 2008 6:45AM
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[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Whether he plays wide or in the middle, whether it's up front or in midfield, whether it's on the ground or in the air, there's no stopping Cristiano Ronaldo. The 23-year-old Portuguese star scored his 10th goal in his last 11 appearances in Europe and 36 goals in all competitions this season to lead Manchester United past Roma, 2-0, in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal series on Tuesday in Rome.

It's was Ronaldo's work on the ground that tormented Roma in United's memorable 7-1 rout of the Italian club a year ago in the quarterfinals. On Tuesday, it was a goal on a header -- "a center forward's header," according to his manager, Sir Alex Ferguson that put United ahead

Ferguson employed Ronaldo up front and Wayne Rooney in midfield, and they did not disappoint. Ronaldo soared inside the area to score with a firm header off a Paul Scholes cross after Rooney had beaten Roma's French defender, Philippe Mexes.

"His header was absolutely fantastic, his spring and courage to go in front of the defender," Ferguson said. "I think the defender thought he was going to get it. It was the spring [that did it]. It was a center forward's header. It reminds me of myself."

In the second half, Ferguson paired Rooney and Ronaldo up front, and Rooney put the game away with his fourth goal in five games against Roma. United pressed for a third goal, but Ronaldo was denied when he hit the post with a shot from outside the area.

"They looked far more dangerous [together]," Ferguson said. "I should have done it earlier."

April 1 in Rome

Roma 0 Man. United 2. Goals: Cristiano Ronaldo 39, Rooney 66.
Roma -- Doni, Cassetti, Mexes, Panucci, Tonetto (Cicinho 69), Taddei (Giuly 59), De Rossi, Aquilani (Esposito 76), Pizarro, Mancini, Vucinic.
Man. United -- van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic (O'Shea 33), Evra, Carrick, Scholes, Anderson (Hargreaves 56), Cristiano Ronaldo, Rooney (Tevez 84), Park Ji-Sung.
Referee: Frank De Bleeckere (Belgium)
Att.: 60,931.


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