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By ESPN Staff
Apr 1, 2008

Ferguson hails 'marvellous' United performance

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson saluted his side as they took a giant step tonight towards a place in the Champions League semi-finals.

Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo - his 36th of the season - and Wayne Rooney put United in the driving seat with a 2-0 win over Roma to take into the second leg at Old Trafford next week.

Ronaldo made the breakthrough in the 33rd minute, and Rooney added a second in the 67th minute to leave Roma dispirited.

Ronaldo made the breakthrough with a brave header, and Rooney's was a simple tap-in after Ji-Sung Park had headed the ball into the area from the back post.

Ferguson said: 'It was a marvellous result for us. We showed discipline and composure on the ball.

'Ronaldo's goal changed the game for us. It was a fantastic header.

'His spring and courage to go in front of the defender surprised the Roma player.

'It was a centre forward's header - it reminded me of myself.'

On Park's contribution to the second goal, Ferguson said: 'I'm not sure how he managed to get the ball back into the area. It did not seem possible.

'But Wayne appeared to unsettle the goalkeeper and managed to touch it in.'

Roma made a decent fist of it in the second half but found goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar unbeatable.

The Dutch goalkeeper's fitness had been a concern, because he has been troubled with a groin problem.

Ferguson said: 'He's had one or two injuries - which have given us a bit of concern - but he came through the game well tonight.

'Edwin showed why he has 120 caps. His experience is vital.

'He made one incredible save in the second half and is a great goalkeeper.

'We rode our luck in the first 15 minutes of the second half. You get those breaks sometimes - and we did today.'

United's celebrations were tempered as defender Nemanja Vidic was forced to come off with a knee injury in the 33rd minute.

He will have a scan tomorrow, and Ferguson said: 'I pray it is not serious, because he is such an integral part of our team.

'We think it might just be a nerve injury but we can't be sure at this moment.'

There was no repeat of the violent scenes that have marred clashes between the clubs in recent games, and Ferguson said: 'That is a bonus and what we wanted to happen tonight.

'Roma and ourselves have worked hard to make sure there would be no incidents.'

Rooney is hoping United have completed the most difficult part of their mission.

'It was a very good game for us - we played really well,' he said.

'It's a very good result - but in the Champions League you never know. We defended well as a team, and I think if we play like we did tonight in the second leg we will go through.

'It was important that we kept a clean sheet.'

On the second goal, he added: 'I don't remember much about it; I just turned, and the ball was on my foot.'

Roma goalkeeper Alexander Doni said: 'Ronaldo's goal was fantastic - there was very little I could do.

As for Rooney's strike, he added: 'It was just a misunderstanding and it's a pity - because it happened when we were playing at our best.

'Manchester United are a great side and they proved it once again - but we have to believe it is still possible.'