United clinch top spot
Ronaldo special wins it for United
By James Pearson. Last Updated: 27/11/07 10:28pm
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 United||Team Statistics||Sporting Lisbon|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|6||Shots on Target||2|
|9||Shots off Target||3|
UEFA Champions League
Tue 27th Nov - Group G
CSKA Mosc0 - 1PSV
Inter3 - 0Fenerbahce
Tue 27th Nov - Group F
Dynamo Kiev1 - 4Roma
Man Utd2 - 1Sporting
Tue 27th Nov - Group E
Stuttgart3 - 2Rangers
Lyon2 - 2Barcelona
Tue 27th Nov - Group H
S Bucuresti1 - 1Slavia Prague
Sevilla3 - 1Arsenal
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|1||Paris St Germain||6||13|
UEFA Champions League Group D
|3||FC Viktoria Plzen||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group E
|4||FC Steaua Bucuresti||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group F
UEFA Champions League Group G
|2||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||6|
UEFA Champions League Group H