They Came. They Saw. WE Conquered.
– Budhaditya Banerjee in his Oscar Wilde incarnation
This is not merely a ground… It’s an institution. And it takes more than a horde of Romans to beat us there.
Let me savor this. A deficit to be overturned. We’re playing an Italian team that features Totti and masked maniacs. Manchester United’s last five first-leg backlogs in Europe had never been overturned.
I could describe the game in vivid detail…
Let Fudda do it.
12: Ronaldo makes a run on the right. Performs a bit of his usual trickery and then passes it to Carrick, who notices that Doni’s not on his line and fish’n’chips it into the far right. GOAAAALLL!!!! Aggregate 2-2
17: Heinze gives to Ryan Giggs, who puts it in the danger area, only for Chivu to knee it straight to Alan Smith. Smith coolly waits and lifts the ball over Doni for a second time into the same far corner as Carrick. 2-0. Game set and match surely. The celebrations say it all. Spaletti slumps down on the famous red Audi sponsored seats.
19: Roma, trying to find their feet, make the common and fatal flaw of committing too many men forward. Fletcher steps across to break the attack and releases Giggs who charges down the right. Roma’s astonishment at the speed of the counter could clessrly be seen from the fact that by the time they’ed rearranged themselves,Giggs had already picked out Rooney who calmly steered it into the far left without even bothering to look. Doni rooted to the spot for the third consecutive time. 3-0.
44: Roma must be hoping that the ref blows his whistle soon. The players would be anywhere but here. However, Ronaldo has other plans. A usual surge down the right sees Roma back off. Big BIG mistake. He doesn’t require an invitation to shoot. Doni has to pick the ball out of his lower left for the third time. 4-0. Old T in seventh heaven. Roma clearly wishing they’d stayed at home.
United are known to ease off the pedal when they’re comfortable. 4-0 at home to an Italian side in Europe is more than comfortable. However as Arsene Wenger and others have found out, the scotsman has a remarkably long memory. And he does not forgive easily. United came out from the touchline with clear intent on their faces and even an United supporter would have sympathised with Roma. It was not their day. It was going to get worse.
48: United corner swung in by Giggs. Roma clear their lines with unusual nervousness for an Italian defence. Rooney pounces and feeds Giggs back who uses all his experience to unleash a wicked outswinging grounder that clears doni’s outstretched desperate arms to scream across the goal line begging to be put in. Ronaldo does. With a slide. 5-0. Only Spaletti’s eyes are visible above the wall. Fergie yet to crack a smile.
60: An hour gone and United in their best European form for a long long time. Another United attack sees Carrick dance down the left before cutting in. The crowd yells,”SHOOT!!!”. Carrick does just that. Far top right. 6-0. Finally a smile on The Scotsman’s face. United on course to make history.
69: Totti still trying to prove a point jogs down ther right before crossing. De Rossi gets ahead of Rio and side foots coolly from the top of the penalty area into Van der Saar’s bottom left. 6-1. A consolation but it leaves the United fans quiet for a minute.
81: Evra deciding to join the party exchanges passes with Ronaldo before unleashing a low drive to what had now become a mandatory bulls eye. Doni’s left. 7-1. Surely it couldnt get worse. Roma were glad it didnt.
AS Roma 1 – 7 Manchester United
A satisfactory ending; eh, what?