Rooney leads United past Milan

Rooney leads United past Milan

Published Feb. 16, 2010 9:57 p.m. ET

Wayne Rooney scored twice in the second half as Manchester United came back from a goal down to beat AC Milan 3-2 in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

Ronaldinho gave Milan an early lead when he volleyed in David Beckham's freekick, but Paul Scholes brought United level before halftime in the first leg match of the competition's last 16.

After the break Rooney twice found space in the area to head past Milan goalkeeper Dida. Late on though Ronaldinho set up Clarence Seedorf to score Milan's second.

"Wayne Rooney carried on the form he showed from before," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "He's in absolutely devastating form and they couldn't handle him in the second half. I thought he was marvelous tonight."

Earlier, United was saved on a number of occasions by goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar before United's attack found its rhythm.

"I think we could have lost a few goals tonight," Ferguson said. "The first 20 minutes was a bad period for us. It was a very unlucky goal for us to give away and we lost our composure. It took us a long time to get going and when we did get going I think we played well.

"I think that the bad start to the game gave encouragement to Milan and the fans were in great voice after that," he said. "It was a bad period for us and we could have been three down."

Milan took the lead in the third minute after Beckham whipped over a freekick and Ronaldinho's first-time volley deflected off Carrick and past Van der Sar.

Four minutes later the Brazilian went close again after linking up with Alexandre Pato and Klaas Jan Huntelaar, but the United keeper was equal to the shot.

United's defense and midfield was having trouble retaining possession and in the 34th Massimo Ambrosini latched onto a loose pass and slipped the ball into Huntelaar, but the Dutchman shot wide.

Two minutes later Scholes equalized with a miskick from Darren Fletcher's cross. The midfielder missed the ball with his right foot but it struck his left leg and the ricochet took it past surprised goalkeeper Dida.

"In the first half we played a perfect game and didn't get what we deserved," Milan coach Leonardo lamented. "The only time they could attack and look like scoring was the 15 minutes when they scored two goals. But we were able to come back at the end and that is why I think we have a chance and I don't think that 2-0 at Old Trafford is an impossible score for us."

Milan rallied before halftime and Ronaldinho again worked Van der Sar.

"We played really well in the first half, going a goal up, and we had three really good chances," Beckham said. "If we had put them away, obviously it would have been a different game. But you have to put those chances away especially against a team like Manchester United and a player like Wazza (Rooney)."

Pato went close early in the second half, but could only head Ronaldinho's cross over the bar.

Antonio Valencia came on for Nani midway through the second half and made an immediate impact. The Ecuadorean winger beat his man for pace and then crossed to the far post where Rooney sent a looping header over Dida and inside the far post.

Rooney grabbed his second goal of the night with another header, drifting in behind the Milan defense to nod Fletcher's cross past a static Dida.

Five minutes from time Ronaldinho picked out Seedorf close in and the Dutchman backheeled the ball past his compatriot in the United goal.

Milan continued to press for the equalizer, but the closest it came was when defender Thiago Silva header Pirlo's corner wide.

In injury time United were reduced to 10 men when Michael Carrick was sent off for a second yellow card for time-wasting.

"Michael was sent off for apparently kicking the ball away," Ferguson said. "I thought it was unfortunate. It was a soft sending off and he gave the referee no option."