Ronaldo header sinks Sporting
Portuguese winger gives United the points
By James Pearson. Last Updated: 19/09/07 10:50pm
Ronaldo: Match-winning goal
Cristiano Ronaldo scored against his former club as Manchester United opened their UEFA Champions League campaign with a 1-0 win at Sporting Lisbon.
Ronaldo nodded home Wes Brown's superb right-wing cross in the 62nd minute to give The Red Devils a priceless three points in Lisbon.
The visitors were on the back foot for much of the contest at Estadio Jose Alvalade, with Edwin van der Sar twice making superb saves to keep Sporting at bay.
United were also boosted by the return of England striker Wayne Rooney who completed 72 minutes on his comeback before being replaced by Louis Saha.
With Sir Alex Ferguson's side struggling away from home recently in European competition, the Scottish tactician will be delighted they have kicked-off their campaign on a winning note.
Away day delight
With an arduous journey to Kiev next month and an unwanted trip to Italy for the anticipated Roma rematch, this probably represented United's best chance of an away win in Group F but they failed to impose themselves as Sir Alex would have wished.
Rooney was the architect of United's one decent chance during the opening period when he found Nani with an excellent far post cross, but the Portuguese dithered and the chance was lost.
Other than that, the goalmouth action, such as it was, involved Van der Sar.
It was not as if Rio Ferdinand and the formidable Nemanja Vidic were extended to any great degree, just that Van der Sar found himself being peppered by a series of long-range shots which could easily have gone in with one unfortunate deflection.
Liedson, Marat Izmailov and Leandro Romagnoli all tried their luck at various times but thankfully Van der Sar was in the correct position on each occasion.
The one time when Van der Sar was seriously threatened came just before the half hour when Liedson's curling shot was heading for the top corner.
Even at 36 and with doubts persisting over whether the veteran Dutchman will extend his career beyond the end of the season, Van der Sar had enough spring to push Liedson's well-struck effort wide.
The value of Van der Sar's save was fully realised just past the hour when United took the lead as Ronaldo finished off the best move of the match.
Rooney started it, darting to the left wing to pick up possession.
In an instant, the ball was transferred from one side of the pitch to the other, with Ronaldo, Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes all involved.
Brown's cross fell right into the danger zone and with Sporting's defenders at full stretch for the first time in the entire game, up popped Ronaldo in acres of space to inflict maximum damage on his old club from six yards.
Van der Sar needed to produce another fine save to turn Tonel's header away before the visitors could start to breathe easily, which they eventually did, but only on the final whistle.
|Sporting Lisbon||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|8||Shots on Target||4|
|7||Shots off Target||7|
UEFA Champions League
Wed 19th Sep - Group F
Roma2 - 0Dynamo Kiev
Sporting0 - 1Man Utd
Wed 19th Sep - Group E
Barcelona3 - 0Lyon
Rangers2 - 1Stuttgart
Wed 19th Sep - Group H
Arsenal3 - 0Sevilla
Slavia Prague2 - 1S Bucuresti
Wed 19th Sep - Group G
PSV2 - 1CSKA Mosc
Fenerbahce1 - 0Inter
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|3||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||7|
UEFA Champions League Group D
UEFA Champions League Group E
UEFA Champions League Group F
|2||Paris St Germain||6||13|
UEFA Champions League Group G
UEFA Champions League Group H