ROONEY PUTS UNITED IN DRIVING SEAT
Wayne Rooney did his talking as he fired Manchester United to a 1-0 lead in their Champions League quarter-final first leg clash with Chelsea on Wednesday night.
Rooney scored the only goal of the tie in the 24th minute as United became 1-3 favorites to make the European Cup semi-finals on the back of their first Stamford Bridge win in nine years.
United boss Alex Ferguson praised Rooney afterwards and said: “Work-rate, desire, he was top quality. He took a great lot of abuse and late tackles on him, but he was excellent.
“He’s now been more regular with his goalscoring which, in the last part of the season, is going to be important to us. That was important for us tonight. We were pleased with that performance.”
The bookies may have United in the semi-finals already but Ferguson won’t take anything for granted ahead of Tuesday night’s return leg in Manchester.
He added: “We have to be very careful and have to give a top performance, but the atmosphere will help us.
“I hope we get through Saturday’s game against Fulham without any further injuries. Anderson will be back against Fulham. It’ll be a tight game at Old Trafford.”
Chelsea were fuming after the defeat, particularly with Spanish referee Alberto Mallenco who denied them a late penalty when Ramires appeared to be brought down by United full-back Patrice Evra.
Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti said: “It was clear. For everyone. Everyone knows it was clear.
“The problem is I know it’s sometimes not easy to give the penalty in the last minute and you need to have personality, courage and character. Not always do referees have these kind of skills.
“I’m disappointed but this is the result. Not just the referee, but the assistant was in the right position to decide that was a penalty.
“I said to the referee after the game that it was a penalty and he needed to whistle. He said nothing. No answer.
“The players are aggrieved. But we have to forget it and be focused for the next game. We have to try our best there.
“It’s not easy, but I think we have to try. Obviously we know it will be difficult to win there. We have confidence to do it. Last year it was the same - we had to win at Old Trafford and we did this.
“We didn’t deserve to lose, but it doesn’t matter. We have to change the result at Old Trafford. It’s just 90 minutes. We have another 90 minutes to play.
“If we were 1-0 up it would be a different situation at Old Trafford. Now we’re 1-0 down and we have to play attacking football to win this game.”
England’s Premier League looks set to have just one team in the semis after Spurs were thrashed 4-0 and had Peter Crouch sent-off at Real Madrid on Tuesday night.
Asked if his team can turn the tie around in London on Wednesday, manager Harry Redknapp said: “Well, it’s going to be very difficult. It certainly couldn’t be much more difficult than being 4-0 down to Real Madrid, but we’re at home, we’ll give it a go.
“It’s never over until it’s over and you never know, though obviously we’ve got a mountain to climb, there’s no doubt about that.”
Madrid coach Jose Mourinho also refused to accept the game is over. He said: “I know English football well, I know the English mentality. In another culture, yes, but with the English concept of football it’s not over.
“Although it’s a hard score to turn around they will put up a fight. We must respect this opponent. “
Barcelona have one foot in the semis after a 5-1 win at home to Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday night while holders Inter Milan were beaten 5-2 at home by Schalke in the other quarter-final first leg tie.