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UEFA Champions League

Estadio Jose Alvalade (ATT 39,514) 19th September 2007 - Kick off 19:45 Ref: H Fandel

Sporting Sporting Lisbon vs Manchester United Man Utd

Sporting 0


Ronaldo header sinks Sporting

Portuguese winger gives United the points

By James Pearson.   Last Updated: 19/09/07 10:50pm

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Ronaldo: Match-winning goal

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.

Great save

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 LisbonTeam StatisticsManchester United 
01st Half Goals0 
8Shots on Target4 
7Shots off Target7 
1Blocked Shots1 
1Yellow Cards2 
0Red Cards0 
76.3Passing Success79.9 
62.5Tackles Success80 
49.7Territorial Advantage50.3 

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1 Atletico Madrid 6 13
2 Juventus 6 10
3 Olympiakos FC 6 9
4 Malmo FF 6 3

UEFA Champions League Group B

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1 Real Madrid 6 18
2 Basel 6 7
3 Liverpool 6 5
4 Ludogorets 6 4

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2 Bayer Leverkusen 6 10
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2 Arsenal 6 13
3 Anderlecht 6 6
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UEFA Champions League Group E

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2 Manchester City 6 8
3 Roma 6 5
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3 Ajax 6 5
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