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By Football Talk.

AC Milan 2 – 3 Manchester United

Manchester United came from a goal down to score three priceless away goals in a thrilling first leg at the San Siro. Wayne Rooney was once again the hero and Sir Alex Ferguson praised the England forwards contribution.

Match Report

Much of the pre-match focus was centred on David Beckham playing against Manchester United for the first time since his departure in 2003 and the midfielder was involved in the opening goal. His early free-kick was only half cleared to Ronaldinho on the edge of the area. The Brazilians volley deflected past Van Der Sar to give AC Milan an early lead.

1-0 Ronaldinho (3)

AC Milan were playing some great stuff and United simply hadn’t turned up yet. The Italians should have twice extended their lead with Hunterlaar firing wide from the edge of the box and Ronaldinho failing to capitalise on a Milan break-away. But perhaps the best chance fell to left back Luca Antonini who turned onto his weaker foot before firing wide from 6 yards.

They were soon to rue those missed opportunities as Man Utd equalised in fortuitous fashion. Darren Fletcher’s cut back was met by Scholes who miss-timed his shot with the ball rebounding off his standing leg and nestling in the bottom corner. A lucky goal but a priceless one for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men.

1-1  Scholes (36)

Milan were not deflated by the set-back and Van Der Sar was called into action again, tipping over a 35-yard Pirlo free-kick and producing a fine save from a Ronaldinho effort.

But once again United would make the Italian outfit pay for their failure to score, when substitute Valencia hung a cross for Rooney to head home  and give United the lead for the first time in the tie.

1-2 Rooney (66)

Manchester United were now on top and the AC Milan players were starting to show their age. Rooney was running them ragged and it wasn’t long before he scored his second and United’s third. Fletcher this time sent in a lovely cross for Rooney to head past Dida from 6 yards.

1-3 Rooney (74)

The game and possibly the tie seemed over with the vital three away goals, but AC ensured a tense finish after Seedorf flicked home Ronaldinho’s cross with five minuted remaining.

2-3 Seedorf (85)

Inzaghi and Ambrosini both had half-chances to force the equalizer but Manchester United held firm to secure the victory that now puts them firmly in the driving seat to progress to the Quarter finals. Although they will have to make do without Michael Carrick for the second leg at Old Trafford in two weeks time after the midfielder was sent off after collecting a second booking for kicking the ball away in injury time.

Ferguson praise for Rooney

Following his two goal match-winning performance, Sir Alex Ferguson took time to heap praise on the England striker and backing him to reach the 30-goal mark this year.

He could break 30,” said Ferguson.

“This season in particular, over the last two months, there has been a marked improvement in his game.

“Confidence has a lot to do with it of course.

“I just felt he had to improve his goalscoring, which is what he is doing now.

“His overall performance was absolutely devastating. Milan couldn’t handle him. They just couldn’t handle him.

“He has to be regarded at the highest level, along with all the other players we know about”

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