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Rediff.com  » Sports » CL images: Rooney lights up the starry sky

CL images: Rooney lights up the starry sky

Last updated on: March 11, 2010 10:18 IST

'It was a fantastic night for us'

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Alex Ferguson paid his expected tribute to two-goal Wayne Rooney after Manchester United's 4-0 thrashing of AC Milan on Wednesday but also had special praise for tireless midfielder Park Ji-sung.

Rooney, who scored twice in the 3-2 San Siro victory that put United in such a commanding position, weighed in with two more at Old Trafford as United swept into the Champions League quarter-finals to stay on course for a third successive final.

Park, who will line up for South Korea at the World Cup starting in June, scored the third with a rare goal after an hour -- having briefly taken a break from his completely effective man-marking job on Andrea Pirlo -- and Darren Fletcher put the icing on the cake with a late header.

"It was a fantastic night for us," Ferguson told reporters.

"Wayne Rooney's performance was just a continuation of his performances for the last two or three months, just sensational, unbelievable," he added.


Image: Wayne Rooney scores past AC Milan's Christian Abbiati
Photographs: Reuters
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Ferguson hails super Rooney and Park

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"The key tonight was Park and Rooney. Park played a game of sacrifice with discipline and intelligence that won us the game," Ferguson said.

Rooney opened the scoring with another powerful header after 13 minutes to swing the tie heavily United's way and Ferguson said his practice at that discipline had paid off.

"His movement in the box has improved this season, he's practiced a lot more, he does heading sessions after training and I think you get your rewards," he said.

The striker, upon whom England's World Cup hopes rest, then showed lung-bursting ambition to be first to Nani's cross a minute into the second, bringing lavish praise from Milan coach Leonardo.

"I think that Rooney is still young but he is a very complete player, he's fast, strong and scores a lot of goals," said the Brazilian.

"He's fast over short and long distances, he's a very, very good player and is playing in a system that for him is perfect. On the counter-attack, he's incredible," he added.


Image: Park Ji-sung scores the third goal of the match

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Damage was done in first leg itself

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Leonardo said the damage in the tie had been done in the first leg and with his team suffering more injuries ahead of Wednesday's game they faced a virtually impossible task.

"It was always going to be hard after losing the first leg and conceding a goal so early made our comeback even more difficult," he said.

"But one thing we can't deny is the powerful and strong performance United put in.

"We met a team who are in extremely good form," he added.


Image: AC Milan coach Leonardo

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Big night for Lyon

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Real Madrid failed to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals for the sixth straight season when Olympique Lyon dumped the Spaniards out 2-1 on aggregate on Wednesday.

Real's dream of winning a 10th European title at their Bernabeu stadium in May was shattered by Miralem Pjanic's 75th-minute strike, which secured a 1-1 draw for visiting Lyon in the last 16 second leg after Cristiano Ronaldo's goal in the sixth minute.

"You can say it's a great achievement. We escaped the worst possible scenario in first half. Hats off to the players who gave all they had tonight. We played a superb second half and I think we deserved it," Lyon coach Claude Puel told TFI channel.


Image: Lyon players celebrates after beating Real Madrid

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Real looked rusty

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Real president Florentino Perez spent close to a quarter of a billion euros ($340 million) in the summer in a bid to end the club's Champions League drought and their latest failure raises fresh questions about the future of coach Manuel Pellegrini.

Real midfielder and captain Guti said the club's exit from the competition was even more painful this year given that the final was in their own stadium and criticised some of his team-mates for selfish play.

"We have to be more of a team and not play so much as individuals," he told Spanish television.

"We didn't come out and perform as we should have done. It's a shame and now we have to think about the league which is all we have left. All these years have been painful and this one too, much more," he added.


Image: Iker Casillas reacts after conceding a goal

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Real started with a bang

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A fired-up Real started the match strongly, winning the ball immediately from the Lyon kickoff, and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has to sprint off his line to deny Kaka.

The rampant home side were ahead soon after.

Guti lofted the ball to Ronaldo, set to lead Portugal's attack at this summer's World Cup, and the competition's top scorer this season took his tally to seven with a low finish that flew between Lloris's legs.

Gonzalo Higuain came desperately close to a second in the 26th when he rounded Lloris and had the empty goal in his sights but his angled shot bounced away off the inside of the post.


Image: Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring

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Pjanic scores the winner for Lyon

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Real were far less dominant after the break and Lyon began to create chances of their own.

Substitute Maxime Gonalons headed narrowly over, Sidney Govou miscued an effort into the crowd from a good position and striker Lisandro Lopez stung the hands of goalkeeper Iker Casillas from distance.

Pjanic stunned the home fans when he picked up a loose ball in the Real area with 15 minutes left and hammered in a volley.

As Real poured forward and gaps opened up in their defence, Lopez and Cesar Delgado were both clean through on goal but failed to finish.

Tempers frayed at the end, substitute Raul and Lyon captain Cris clashing, and the final whistle was greeted with a mixture of stunned silence and subdued whistling from the Real fans and wild euphoria from the Lyon faithful high up in the stands.


Image: Miralem Pjanic celebrates after scoring

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