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Old Trafford (ATT 75,162) 27th November 2007 - Kick off 19:45 Ref: C Bo Larsen

Man Utd Manchester United vs Sporting Lisbon Sporting


Sporting 1

United clinch top spot

Ronaldo special wins it for United

By James Pearson.   Last Updated: 27/11/07 10:28pm

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Ronaldo: Game-winning goal

Ronaldo: Game-winning goal

Manchester United clinched top spot in Group F after coming from behind to claim a 2-1 success over Sporting.

Things were not going to script for Sir Alex Ferguson's side when Fernando Abel's audacious 22nd minute strike gave the visitors a half-time lead.

However, Ferguson made a double switch at the break with Carlos Tevez and Ryan Giggs coming on and it paid dividends.

The home side levelled matters on the hour mark when Cristiano Ronaldo's tame shot struck Marian Had and rolled into his own net, although Tevez may claim the last touch.

Just when it looked like the points would be shared Ronaldo lashed home a stunning injury-time free-kick against his former club to secure top spot.

There was little goal-mouth action prior to the visitors taking the lead at Old Trafford.


Abel deserves plenty of credit for the way he spotted the opening, then curled a superb shot in at the near post with the outside of his left foot from the right touchline.

However, Kuszczak could not escape blame, for it was his blatant anticipation of a cross which provided Abel with the space to finish.

Abel's effort should have freshened United up, instead they just shrank into their shell and were fortunate Sporting did not double their advantage as

Liedson was probably just onside when he was flagged off after turning home Anderson Polga's through ball.

Even Ronaldo became becalmed against his old club after previously appearing to be on a one-man scoring mission, darting through the visitors' defence on three occasions, without finding the finish.

Neither could Louis Saha get a decent connection on his shot when Ronaldo set him up with an impudent back-heeled through ball.

Just as at Bolton on Saturday, too many red shirts operated way below optimum levels and Ferguson must be concerned at the stuttering manner in which side have returned from their international break.

The United boss made his feelings on the first half debacle clear by introducing Giggs, who celebrates his 34th birthday on Thursday, and Tevez at the interval.


Tevez had the major impact, although United had to wait for their equaliser. Saha, who had an evening to forget, spurned a glorious chance when he delayed far too long after being set up by Ronaldo, while Nemanja Vidic nodded Giggs' corner wide.

The breakthrough eventually came thanks to Patrice Evra's scampering left-wing burst. Tevez knew little about it as Ronaldo's mis-hit shot from Saha's lay-off arrived at his feet but a deflection off the South American and Had was enough to see United level.

Miguel Veloso, apparently a Red Devils transfer target, would have impressed most observers with an effective midfield display.

The Portugal international might even have capped his night with a goal too, only for his 20-yard strike to whistle just over.

The unedifying sight of Evra being booked for a blatant dive was not one which would appeal to Ferguson's sporting instincts but in the end Ronaldo gave the home fans something more palatable to remember.

Manchester UnitedTeam StatisticsSporting Lisbon
01st Half Goals1
6Shots on Target2
9Shots off Target3
5Blocked Shots4
2Yellow Cards2
0Red Cards0
78.1Passing Success75.6
73.9Tackles Success77.8
57.3Territorial Advantage42.7

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