|1||Van der Sar|
It was oh-so-easy for United on Wednesday as goals on either side of the break from Wayne Rooney and second-half strikes from Ji-sung Park and Darren Fletcher helped the Reds cruise into the Champions League quarter-finals.
AC Milan, so often United’s bogey team in Europe, rarely tested Sir Alex Ferguson’s men, despite coming to Old Trafford intent on scoring goals. Instead, it was Wayne Rooney who found the net twice to put the tie beyond Milan’s reach and spoil David Beckham’s homecoming. Park and Fletcher merely iced the cake.
Few could had predicted how easy it proved to dump the Italian giants out of Europe’s premier club competition. The Rossoneri arrived in Manchester determined to overturn a 3-2 first-leg deficit and employed an attacking 4-3-3 formation, with Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Marco Borriello and Ronaldinho up top.
But United, buoyed by a vocal home support, flew out of the traps. Within the first 10 minutes Rooney let fly twice from distance (once narrowly missing the left-hand post), Gary Neville fired a left-footed long-ranger over the bar and Nani forced goalkeeper Christian Abbiati into a smart save down by his near post.
There were scares for the Reds early on, too: Ronaldinho headed inches wide after Andrea Pirlo’s free-kick was flicked on by Nani, while Huntelaar’s control let him down badly when he drifted beyond Patrice Evra to latch onto a long ball from Thiago Silva.
After such a lively opening it was hardly surprising to see the ball in the back of the net on 13 minutes. Even less of a surprise was that the game’s opening goal arrived courtesy of Wayne Rooney’s head. The Reds striker (Milan’s chief tormentor in the first leg, remember) netted