Man Utd 7 – 1 Roma
The gods weren’t just smiling on Old Trafford tonight. They were on the pitch.
An incredible first twenty minutes wrapped up the game for United, with simply superb goals from Carrick, Rooney and Smith sealing the deal early on. None were just pieces of brilliant individual flair. They were all the result of smooth, efficient and often incredible teamplay, usually finished with a sublime strike.
Carrick’s first two goals in Europe will be long remembered. With Scholes out and expecting only a few more years in the game, the £14m signing from Tottenham made his claim to be the team’s best long-range shooter. Both his shots were completely out of reach for the unfortunate Doni.
From the starting whistle, United played like they were out to win. But having done so within a quarter of an hour, they continued like they had a point to prove. Edwin van der Sar made a number of important and far from easy saves after two poor matches. His clean sheet was spoiled by Roma’s one highlight – a cheeky, quick chip that would have caught the best in the world napping.
Man United won through the sometimes controversial tinkering of Alex Ferguson. Rooney began on the left, Giggs on the right, and Alan Smith almost alone up front. But the pace on the wings and through the middle from Carrick and Darren Fletcher proved unstoppable. Giggs was beyond the control of the Roma defence, and Ronaldo was his magical best. Rooney and Sir Alex both suggested he was the best in the world this week. They were both right. And to think that a matter of months ago I was the recipient of grumbles after suggesting Ronaldo might be better than Beckham ever was.
United’s makeshift defence was tested at times, but despite the lack of Vidic and Neville, they always seemed to have control of the back third. Goals from Ronaldo (2), Evra and a second from Carrick sealed the deal. United needed a win. Instead, they gave out a good, old-fashioned thrashing to a team who were poor, unlucky, and in the wrong stadium at the wrong time.