Rooney takes Man U past Milan

Playing in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal against AC Milan, Man U fond the perfect solution to their injury crisis in Wayne Rooney.

updated: April 26, 2007 17:00 IST
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Playing in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal against AC Milan, Manchester United fond the perfect solution to their injury crisis in the form of Wayne Rooney.

With AC Milan closing on a draw with two crucial away goals, Rooney rescued United with an injury time goal for a 3-2 victory on Tuesday.

"It proves we've got the quality to win this tournament," manager Alex Ferguson said.

United looked doomed before the Old Trafford encounter, missing eight players - including three first-choice defenders - against the experienced Italians, who had rested players this past weekend.

"We kept going to the end. We knew if we could get a victory here, it will be easier when we go to the away leg," said Rooney.

After a European goal drought of more than two years, the England striker has erupted with four in three games.

His right-footed strike from the top of the area beat goalkeeper Dida just inside the near post and completed United's comeback from a 2-1 deficit.

"Up until then we had the game pretty much in hand - the game was over and it was a good result for us," Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "Now with that goal, it's complicated matters somewhat."

The late goal reinforced thoughts of an all-English final. Chelsea plays Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in London in the other first-leg semifinal on Wednesday.

AC Milan will host the second leg against Manchester United on May 2.

"We persevered. We kept playing our football, some of which was fantastic and we dominated the second half. We got hold of the game and the equalizer gave us the impetus to go on and win it," Ferguson said.

The Red Devils led in the fifth minute when Cristiano Ronaldo headed a corner off Dida's shoulder. The ball deflected up, and Dida scrambled back only to get a finger tip to it before it dropped into the goal.

Kaka sparked AC Milan, scoring in the 22nd and 37th minutes to put the Rossineri ahead by halftime.

The Brazilian, the competition's top scorer, ran onto a through ball from Clarence Seedorf, avoided a sliding tackle from Gabriel Heinze and struck a left-footed shot past Edwin Van der Sar.

Kaka added his ninth European goal of the season by capitalizing on a defensive mistake. He rounded Darren Fletcher, headed the ball forward and scored unmarked after Heinze collided with Patrice Evra.

Rooney equalized after Paul Scholes chipped the ball over the Milan defense, hitting a right-footed shot that Dida was only able to partially block. It was only the third away goal Milan had conceded in the competition this season.