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Ferguson hails Rooney goal

Sir Alex Ferguson is hoping Wayne Rooney's Champions League winner against Roma will open the floodgates for the England forward.
AFP | By Angus MacKinnon, Manchester
UPDATED ON OCT 03, 2007 08:54 PM IST

Sir Alex Ferguson is hoping Wayne Rooney's Champions League winner against Roma will open the floodgates for the England forward and a Manchester United squad that has found goals painfully hard to come by this season.

Rooney's superbly-taken 70th-minute strike, his first of the season, was enough to give United a somewhat fortunate 1-0 win over a side they had beaten 7-1 on their last encounter at Old Trafford, only six months ago.

Six of the Premier League champions' seven wins this season have come by the same margin and Ferguson admitted he was bemused by the trend.

"It is a disease," the Scot observed with half a smile. "We're trying to get a vaccine for it.

"Sometimes you go through these spells. But it won't last forever. Some day we're going to hit a few goals and hopefully it will start soon.

The evening would have had a different outcome if Roma had been able to take any of the numerous chances they generated in a game they dominated for long periods.

Ferguson acknowledged United had ridden their luck, but insisted the quality of the goal from Rooney was worthy of winning any match.

The England forward had endured a frustrating evening operating behind an out-of-sorts Louis Saha, who was making his first start since February. But his luck turned when he was pushed to the head of the forward line following the introduction of Carlos Tevez.

A superb little ball from the outstanding Nani gave him a yard of space in the inside right channel and Rooney finished with a first-time shot that found the net off the bottom of the far post.

"It was a fabulous goal - great moving and great passing," Ferguson purred. "The penetration we were looking for in the second half created the opening for us.

Rooney is only four matches into his comeback from a broken metatarsal bone and Ferguson admitted: "He is still trying to get his rhythm and real match fitness. But this will do him good. Goals always do players good, especially when they are expected of them."

Ferguson revealed that Cristiano Ronaldo had needed four stitches in his eyebrow after the match. "I didn't see it but he himself has said it was an elbow," the Scot said. "It is unfortunate because the match was played in a good spirit."

He added: "Roma had some really good chances at the end but that's football, it can be unfair. I think we probably deserved a bit of luck because we played the game with good control and good tactical awareness.

"The position in the group now is straightforward. Ten points will get us through, we have got six and winning our first two matches gives us confidence and a controlling position.

"Now we have back-to-back matches against Dynamo Kiev and hopefully we can add to those results. We don't want to be going to Rome for the last game in the group looking for points."

Roma coach Luciano Spalletti bemoaned his side's bad luck - although in reality it was dreadful finishing that cost them, Simone Perrotta and Mauro Esposito in particular missing absolute sitters in the closing stages.

"When a team puts on that kind of display, really at the end of the match they should not be on the beaten side, even against opponents of the stature of Manchester United," Spalletti complained.

"If anyone deserved to score more goals today it was us rather than Manchester."

Roma's line-up featured five survivors from their last, dispiriting visit to Old Trafford but there was no sign of psychological scarring from that painful night as they dominated for over an hour.

Their talismanic captain Francesco Totti had troubled United throughout the opening period and came close to giving his side the lead minutes after the interval, when Ludovic Giuly found him on the edge of the six-yard box with only Tomasz Kuszczak to beat.

The number ten opted to attempt a chipped finish, clearing both the sprawling goalkeeper and the bar in the process.

Even after Rooney had given them the lead, United continued to live dangerously and it took a combination of some superb blocks from Nemanja Vidic and misses from ten yards Perrotta and substitute Esposito to preserve their advantage in the final stages.

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