By Paul Virgo
ROME, April 1 (Reuters) – Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney gave Manchester United a clinical 2-0 win at AS Roma on Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
Portugal forward Ronaldo soared inside the area six minutes before the break to head home a Paul Scholes cross after Rooney had skipped away from Philippe Mexes.
Rooney then poked home the second goal himself in the 66th minute after a header from South Korean midfielder Ji-Sung Park sparked a goalmouth scramble.
â€œItâ€™s a very good performance,â€ Ronaldo told ITV. â€œEveryone knows itâ€™s a tough game. Roma played very well, but we created a few chances. I think we deserved this win.â€
United manager Alex Ferguson added that the victory was far from comfortable, saying: â€œItâ€™s a very good team we played against of course. We had to defend really well at times.â€
Roma had nothing to show for some fluid football and have a massive task in next Wednesdayâ€™s return at Old Trafford, where they lost 7-1 at the same stage of the competition last season.
â€œIt is clear that when we conceded the second goal I wasnâ€™t happy but it was the only thing I wasnâ€™t happy with,â€ Roma coach Luciano Spalletti told Sky Italia.
â€œIn my opinion we have played the game we had to play. The first 20 minutes of the second half we deserved more.â€
The English champions made a shaky start at the Stadio Olimpico and their Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was lucky to get away with a risky early clearance.
Roma defender Christian Panucci then headed just over the bar from a corner in the 12th.
United tried to fashion a response but Brazilian midfielder Anderson hoofed their first effort well off target and Ronaldo drilled a long-distance freekick wide.
The hosts continued to look dangerous and Montengro striker Mirko Vucinic hit a powerful strike over the bar but it was Ronaldo who gave United the lead to stun the home fans.
Roma tried to respond and Vucinic squandered a superb chance to equalise with only Van der Sar to beat soon after the goal.
A determined Roma, who were without injured captain Francesco Totti, made a bright start to the second half.
Fullback Max Tonetto come close with a powerful effort and almost surprised Van der Sar with a cross-come-shot, while Panucci blasted over from short range.
Van der Sar produced a superb reflex save from a Vucinic header in the 62nd and United looked to be struggling before Rooney claimed his fourth goal in five games against Roma.
Ronaldo hit the post with a shot from outside the area and midfielder Michael Carrick nearly made it 3-0 with another long-range strike.
Rooney then struck the ball wide from a good position and Ronaldo volleyed just over as the home side began to lose heart in the closing stages.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)