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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 26, 2008

Rooney: Ron can handle rough stuff

Wayne Rooney believes Cristiano Ronaldo is "big enough'' to rise above tough challenges and the baiting of rival supporters.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson complained after the 0-0 draw against Villarreal in the Champions League that Ronaldo was a victim of systematic fouling in Europe and England.

Joan Capdevila was sent off seven minutes from time last night for a high challenge which left stud marks above the Portugal winger's knee.

Ronaldo had been doubtful for the match after suffering cuts to his ankle in the draw against Aston Villa at the weekend.

He nursed his bruises over the weekend and then made a surprise return to training where he pleaded with Ferguson that he should play.

Ronaldo, who has been courted by Real Madrid, then had to endure a constant barrage of taunts from the crowd at El Madrigal.

But Rooney insists his team-mate will carry on playing his normal game.

"He is a high-profile player and wherever he goes he is always going to get this kind of treatment,'' said the England striker. "He is big enough to deal with it.''

United have qualified for the knockout stages with one match to spare and will finish top of Group E if they beat Aalborg in their final match.

While Rooney is pleased they have confirmed their place in the last 16, he admitted the match against Villarreal was not one for the purists.

For the fourth successive match the two sides played out a goalless draw, with United extending their unbeaten run in Europe to 18 matches.

Rooney added: "The main thing is we are through to the knockout round. This result could be good for us in the end.

"I'm not quite sure it was one for the spectators, but we've come here and we were probably the better team. We created lots of chances but we just couldn't take them.

"It was not an easy game to win or to score in but we are still pleased because we are through.''

United were solid at the back and defender Jonny Evans is keen to give the manager a headache when it comes to selecting the team.

Evans was composed alongside Rio Ferdinand after replacing Nemanja Vidic in Spain but is keen to keep raising the bar.

"There is always room for improvement,'' said the Northern Ireland international. "I'm learning from the defenders here.

"Hopefully I'll get a few more games and learn a bit more. I want to give the manager a headache and a problem.''

Evans was pleased United kept a clean sheet and added: "As a defender that is something you always want.

"They set their stall out against us by defending and playing one up front, and it's always hard to break them down, especially on a tight pitch like that.

"Our main aim was get through but it would be a nice bonus to finish top of the group.''

Evans enjoyed getting the better of his tussle with former United team-mate Giuseppe Rossi and added: "He's done me a few times in training so it's nice to face him in a competitive match.

"Everyone knows what a quality player he is and everyone was surprised to see him leave us at the time.''

Next up for United is the derby against Manchester City at Eastlands on Sunday and Rooney is aiming to rediscover his scoring touch.

"I hope so,'' he added. "The derby is a big game for us and we are all looking forward to it.''

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