Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was full of praise for two-goal hero Wayne Rooney after the striker pushed Manchester United to a 2-1 home win over Portsmouth in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday.
Substitute Rooney, who came on with half an hour to go, tapped in the opening goal after 77 minutes before adding the second with a sublime chip over ’keeper David James — which was reminiscent of Eric Cantona’s similiar chip against Sheffield United in 1995 — six minutes later.
“It was the vision to do it, and the audacity,” Ferguson said about United’s second goal. “The boy’s got the kind of courage to do that.”
“It was a fantastic goal and I remember Eric doing that in the FA Cup against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in 1995,” he added.
But he was less complimentary about the failure of the match officials to notice that Serbian defender Nemanja Vidic’s 12th-minute header had crossed the line before being hooked clear by Pompey’s midfielder Pedro Mendes.
“It’s a corner kick and the linesman is in the right position, he’s on the goalline and he can’t see it. It’s amazing,” said Ferguson. “I’ve watched it...it’s not just inches over, it’s a foot over.”
Fortunes were reversed at Old Trafford in January 2005 when a disallowed goal from Mendes, then with Tottenham Hotspur, triggered a lengthy debate after a 0-0 draw in the Premier League.
A long-range lob from Mendes was spilled by Roy Carroll and went well over the goalline before the ball was scooped back by the United keeper. Mendes was on the scoresheet for Portsmouth on Saturday with an 87th-minute effort, which went in off teammate Nwankwo Kanu.
“Unfortunately we got a deflected goal against us which made it all a bit exciting towards the end but I thought we were in control,” added Ferguson. Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp said: “I’m a big fan of Rooney, he’s a fantastic talent. “We were always in the game...and overall I was pleased with the way the lads played.”
Madrid fall in Villarreal
Madrid: Real Madrid failed to claim first place in the Spanish league after teenager Marcos Garcia scored to give host Villarreal a 1-0 victory over the powerhouse Saturday. Left winger Villarreal’s victory, its first over its rival in 17 games, left Madrid in third place, a point behind leader FC Barcelona, which hosts Celta Vigo on Sunday. In Saturday’s other match, Pablo Ibanez’s 76th-minute equalizer brought fifth-place Atletico Madrid a 1-1 draw with Racing Santander.
In addition to Ronaldo and Beckham, Madrid were without injured captain Raul Gonzalez, and four more Brazilians - left-backs Roberto Carlos and Marcelo, right-back Cicinho, and midfielder Emerson.
Villarreal dominated the first half and almost scored in the 30th minute when Fernandez fired high and wide after Madrid goalkeeper Casillas had made successive saves from Diego Forlan and Ruben Gracia.
Villarreal’s new Danish signing, striker Jon Dahl Tomasson, made his debut in the 85th minute but Argentine playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme was again left out and watched from the stands. Riquelme hasn’t played this year amid reported differences with Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini.
Lazio lasso Palermo
Milan: Tomasso Rocchi scored twice on Saturday as Lazio beat Palermo 3-0 to move into fourth place in the Serie A. Rocchi scored first in the 45th minute by following up a save from Palermo goalkeeper Alberto Fontana and added his second in the 77th .