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Man Utd 4 AC 0 (agg 7-2): Wayne's nod to greatness as Italians are crushed

12 Mar 2010 01:24:40

Man Utd 4 AC 0 (agg 7-2): Wayne's nod to greatness as Italians are crushed

There were protests and there were prizes. A gold star for Wayne Rooney; a green and gold scarf for David Beckham. And there was yet another appearance in the Champions League quarter-finals to celebrate for supporters who began this enchanted Old Trafford evening applauding their remarkable young striker and ended it by turning, once again, on their club's American owners. For the aforementioned Manchester United old boy, it amounted to quite a night. Far more enjoyable, it has to be said, than it would have been for the other old boys of AC Milan. This was as depressing an evening as this once great side have had in Europe for many a year. Further evidence that they have become sporting geriatrics. Not that their suffering was of any concern to Rooney and United. Inspired, once again, by their brilliant England forward, United were sensational in the way they secured their club's first victory against the San Siro giants. Head start: Wayne Rooney nods Manchester United ahead Two more goals for Rooney. One each for the excellent Ji-Sung Parkand the irrepressible Darren Fletcher. It was a battering almost asimpressive as the one dished out by Arsenal the previous night. Rooney, presumably, is now off the naughty step and back in his manager's good books. Sir Alex Ferguson appeared to be furious with him last week for battling on against Egypt when it seemed he had aggravated a knee injury. ByFriday he was spitting mad, not least because it meant he would missthe Premier League trip to Wolves the following day and possibly eventhis European game. But Rooney returned to action here at Old Trafford and returned towhat has now become a familiar routine. Another goal with his head. Asecond that enabled him to further demonstrate his ability as a finisher. He was terrific, from thepower and accuracy of the header to the burst of acceleration heproduced to get to Nani's ball and guide his finish beyond the reach of Christian Abbiati before taking evasive action. Double act: Rooney fires his second just after half-time MOST EUROPEAN GOALSBY ENGLISH PLAYERS...33... Gerrard (Liverpool) 30... Shearer (B'burn - 2, Newc - 28) 27... Owen (Liv - 22, Real - 1, Man U - 4) 26... Scholes (Manchester Utd) 23... Andy Cole (Newc - 4, Man Utd - 19) 22... Charlton (Man Utd) 22... Chivers (Tottenham) 22... Lampard (West Ham - 1, Chel - 21) 20... Kennedy (Ars - 8, Liv - 12) 20...Rooney (Man Utd) That goal, scored shortly after the interval, took him to 30 thisseason and now even Ferguson will have to admit there is a good chancehe will sail past Cristiano Ronaldo's 2007-08 mark of 42 before the campaign is over. United have waited a long time to beat Milan but they did so withease in this last-16 tie, building on the 3-2 victory at the San Sirowith a win that was surprisingly comfortable so easy that Ferguson took off Rooney after 66 minutes and still found himself celebrating an extension to his team's lead. It was over a good deal before that. After 13 minutes, to be precise,because that was how long it took for Rooney to score the first goaland leave Milan needing three to progress beyond this round. United performed much like Arsenal had done against Porto. With great urgency and desire, a real senseof purpose. Rooney was first to threaten and then Gary Neville, yesGary Neville, followed that up with a left-foot effort that flew onlyjust over the bar. Game over: Park Ji-sung fires United into a preponderant 3-0 lead Milan did respond, threatening with a header from Ronaldinho. Butwhen Neville sent in a cross Beckham would have been proud to deliver,Rooney took advantage of truly awful defending. In doing so, heextended a remarkable run to seven successive goals with his head. Andnine headers in 11. Milan were nothing like as energetic as they had been in the first half at the San Siro. There wereflashes of skill, most notably from Andrea Pirlo and Ronaldinho. And apowerfully struck shot from Pirlo tested Edwin van der Sar. But in the absence of the injured Pato, their brilliant young Brazilian striker, they lacked spark. Leonardo should have sent on Beckham long before he did, because when he came on the midfielder was probably Milan's best player. Sitting targets: Manchester United owners Avi and Joel Glazer in the directors' box Leonardo made a different change at the break, replacing the haplessDaniele Bonera with Clarence Seedorf. But to no avail. No sooner hadthe contest resumed than Nani was sending Rooney into the box with asuper ball from the left. And when Park then sprinted on to a delightful pass from PaulScholes and beat Abbiati with an excellent right-foot shot shortlybefore the hour, it was simply left to Beckham to lap up the applauseand say the final farewell that was denied him when he joined RealMadrid in the summer of 2003. Rapturous return: David Beckham received a warm reception Old Trafford MATCH FACTSManchester United (4-3-2-1): Van der Sar 7; Neville 7 (Rafael 66min, 6), Ferdinand 7, Vidic 7, Evra 7; Fletcher 7, Scholes 7 (Gibson 73, 6), Park 8; Valencia 7, Nani 7; Rooney 9 (Berbatov 66, 6). Booked: Scholes. AC MILAN (4-3-3): Abbiati 5; Abate 5 (Beckham 64, 6), Bonera 4 (Seedorf 46, 6), Thiago Silva 5, Jankulovski 6; Flamini 6, Pirlo 6, Ambrosini 6; Huntelaar 5, Borriello 5 (Inzaghi 68, 6), Ronaldinho 5. Booked: Ronaldinho, Flamini. Man of the match: Wayne Rooney. Referee: Massimo Busacca (Switzerland). Beckham received the biggest cheer of the night, and went close toscoring when he unleashed a super volley that forced Van der Sar intoan excellent save. But the goals were only going to come from United, their fourthmaterialising in the form of a cross from Rafael da Silva and a neatlyexecuted header from Fletcher two minutes before the end. By then, the fans had turned their attention to the Glazers, whichmust have made it particularly unpleasant for Avi and Joel, seated herelast night among the directors. The darling of those same disgruntled fans, Beckham only added to the Glazers' pain by picking up a greenand golf scarf that had been thrown in his direction and wrapping it around his neck. Is he one of these Red Knight characters? Probably not, but the recruitment drive starts here.  Martin Samuel: How Cristiano Ronaldo's exit turned Wayne Rooney into the real deal at Manchester UnitedWhatever happened to the artist formerly known as Ronaldinho? AC Milan forward has Old Trafford stinker From Sol Campbell's Judas chants to Luis Figo's severed pig's head - Sportsmail remembers the returning starsLook who's Beck in town: One last hurrah for the maestro of Old TraffordManchester United 4 AC Milan 0: As it happenedMANCHESTER UNITED FC


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