Rooney trumps Kaka to give United edge

Manchester, England (ANTARA News) – Wayne Rooney brilliantly trumped AC Milan`s Brazilian star Kaka to fire Manchester United to an exhilarating 3-2 victory in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final here on Tuesday.

Just as it seemed that Kaka`s first-half double would be enough to earn Milan a draw that would have left them as favourites to advance to their third final in five years, Rooney raced on to a through ball from Ryan Giggs and hammered a low drive into the net for his own second of a memorable evening.


Manchester, England (ANTARA News) – Wayne Rooney brilliantly trumped AC Milan`s Brazilian star Kaka to fire Manchester United to an exhilarating 3-2 victory in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final here on Tuesday.

Just as it seemed that Kaka`s first-half double would be enough to earn Milan a draw that would have left them as favourites to advance to their third final in five years, Rooney raced on to a through ball from Ryan Giggs and hammered a low drive into the net for his own second of a memorable evening.

Having claimed an early lead through Cristiano Ronaldo, United`s depleted defensive resources were exposed by Kaka`s opportunistic brilliance, who twice capitalised on poor marking to claim 22nd and 37th minute goals for the visitors.

But Rooney levelled with half an hour to play and United`s pressure was finally rewarded in the first minute of added-on time, AFP reported.

The result left United manager Sir Alex Ferguson understandably delighted.

“We persevered and kept playing football, some of it was fantastic and we dominated the second-half.”

“The equaliser gave us an incentive to go on and win it.

“The result has give us a magnificent chance now of progressing.

“With our chse of the title this is the biggest boost we could have got.”

AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani praised Kaka for giving the team that extra bit of individual brilliance.

“All great teams have one or two players that make the difference and Kaka does it for us,” said Galliani.

However he admitted that the injuries to veteran defender Paolo Maldini and hardman midfielder Gennaro Gattuso which saw them both go off had hit them hard.

“The injuries to Gattuso and Maldini hurt us. They are two extraordinary players. Gattuso was superb in the first half, and we suffered a lot when he went off,” he said.

Given Milan`s record at closing out tight ties in front of their own supporters, Carlo Ancelotti`s side will remain confident of turning things around. But on this evidence it will be a close-run – and entertaining – affair in the San Siro next Wednesday.

United opened the scoring as Ryan Giggs`s inswinging delivery was met by Ronaldo with a header that cannoned into Dida`s chest before spinning towards the top corner of the net.

The goalkeeper might still have been able to clear the danger but in his haste to claw the ball away succeeded only in deflecting it into his own net.

The Brazilian made partial amends in the 14th minute, diving to his left to keep out a Michael Carrick volley from a Giggs cutback.

The growing confidence of the home side at that stage had been reflected in Darren Fletcher`s outside-of-the-boot pass that had started that move.

But the optimistic mood of the Old Trafford crowd was soon to be punctured by the two sublime touches from the feet of Kaka which delivered Milan`s equaliser.

The first allowed him to gather Clarence Seedorf`s diagonal pass into the box as well as carrying him past the three United defenders surrounding him to the corner of the six-yard box. The second swept the ball beyond Edwin van der Sar`s left hand and into the far corner of the net.

Nobody on the United side could rival the scalpel-sharp cutting edge of Kaka. Eight minutes from half-time, the Brazilian muscled Fletcher off the ball on the left of the box and turned inside, generating a panic in United`s makeshift defence which resulted in Gabriel Heinze and Patrice Evra running into each other, leaving Kaka with the simple task of side-footing the ball past van der Sar.

Milan`s playmaker might have completed a first-half hat-trick a minute later with a long-range effort that was bound for the bottom corner before van der Sar`s left glove intervened.

Milan`s prospects of holding on to their lead were not helped when their captain Maldini failed to reappear for the second half, nor by the sight of Gattuso limping off ten minutes after the restart.

United should have been level by that stage, Carrick inexplicably failing to hit the target after another Giggs corner found him unmarked beyond the back post.

An equaliser did finally materialise just before the hour mark, Fletcher and Carrick combining on the edge of the box to tee-up Scholes, who might have shot but instead flipped the ball onto the chest of Rooney, who pulled it down and tucked the ball past Dida on the six-yard line.

Four minutes later, the Brazilian threw himself to his right to deny Fletcher. Another stop from Fletcher and a fingertips effort to deny Ronaldo were to follow before Rooney finally found a way past the giant Brazilian.

“It`s a great feeling,” admitted Rooney.

“We kept going to the end and we realised if we could get a victory it would make it a bit easier next week.

“We knew it was going to be difficult to get the win but the manager told us at half-time to keep going.

“As for Scholes`s pass for my first, well he is a joy to play with, he is a genius.

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