Beckham won't give up on last eight

Beckham won't give up on last eight

Published Feb. 17, 2010 10:02 a.m. ET

David Beckham still believes AC Milan can make the last eight of the Champions League despite their 3-2 first-leg defeat to Manchester United.

Beckham, playing against his former club for the first time since leaving them seven years ago, set up Ronaldinho for the opening goal in the third minute but the Rossoneri were unable to build on their lead in a first half they dominated.

A fortunate goal from Paul Scholes brought United level before the interval, though, and a brace from Wayne Rooney in the second half put the Red Devils in command of the tie until Clarence Seedorf struck late on to leave Milan still in with a chance, according to Beckham.

"Clarence's second goal has made it possible," he said. "It's not easy to go to Old Trafford but we have made it a bit better for ourselves.

"If we had come off the field having lost 3-1, then we would have been more disappointed."

Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato were both guilty of missing chances in the first 45 minutes as United were forced onto the back foot, defending en masse to halt a buoyant and hungry Rossoneri.

Rooney cut a very lonely figure in the United attack, often being the only Red Devil in the opposition half as Milan laid siege to Edwin van der Sar's goal.

"If in the first half we had scored the goals when we had the chances, then it would have been a different game," said Beckham.

"But we didn't and Manchester United are a very good team and Wayne Rooney is a very good player."

Indeed, it was Rooney who emerged from the fringes of the game to put United on course for a place in the quarter-finals with two headed goals.

"I know better than anybody that, if you give United a chance, especially Wayne Rooney, then they will punish you," added Beckham.

"Rooney is obviously on fire again.

"He's been on fire for a few weeks now and I've always said he's one of the best goalscorers in the world."

The Milan defence fell asleep as Rooney netted twice, first sending a looping header over Milan goalkeeper Dida into the back of the net to give United a 66th-minute lead.

Questions could be asked about Dida's positioning and whether he could have done anything to deny the England striker, but Beckham leapt to his team-mate's defence.

"He is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. We don't blame anybody," he said.

"It's about the whole team - we win together and we lose together."

Seedorf, whose 85th-minute goal leaves the tie still finely poised, now expects the game to be equally open and exciting at Old Trafford in the second leg, and he certainly does not expect United to sit back and defend their lead.

"These are two teams who want to win and try to win," he said.

"They are always great games and there can never be any talk of catenaccio because that's just not in either team's repertoire.

"What happened? We were just up against a team called Manchester United and they know how to play football."