PORTO - Cristiano Ronaldo's brilliant early goal sent holders Manchester United through to the Champions League semi-finals with a disciplined 1-0 win over Porto on Wednesday. Ronaldo smashed in an unstoppable 40-yard shot after six minutes and United hung on to become the first English team to win in Porto, their 3-2 aggregate victory setting up a last-four clash with Premier League rivals Arsenal. "It was an unbelievable strike, fantastic, a magnificent hit," United manager Alex Ferguson said in a televised interview. "They did well, defended well with good concentration. That was the key to it." Porto started slowly but gradually increased the pressure and came close to equalising on 20 minutes when Bruno Alves's free kick flew inches wide of the post. The Portuguese team suffered another blow when captain Lucho Gonzalez was forced off with a knee injury and had to be replaced by Mariano. Alves posed danger again in the 40th minute, heading just wide after an excellent Raul Meireles free kick. Porto continued to create chances but United, with England's Rio Ferdinand back in the side after missing the 2-2 first-leg draw through injury, defended resolutely. Striker Lisandro Lopez headed wide from a corner and substitute Ernesto Farias almost made an instant impact with a bicycle kick which flew over the United bar. United's first clean sheet in six games kept them on course to win five trophies this season. The Gunners' passage into the last four was a far simpler one. An early goal from Theo Walcott was added to in the second half by strikes from Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie from the penalty spot to complete a 3-0 win against Villarreal, 4-1 on aggregate. England will have three sides in the last four for the third successive season. Chelsea withstood a spirited Liverpool comeback on Tuesday, drawing 4-4 with their Premier League rivals at Stamford Bridge to progress 7-5 over the two legs. Chelsea will play Barcelona next, the Spanish side easing through 5-1 on aggregate against Bayern Munich after a 1-1 draw in Germany. A Premier League side is guaranteed to compete in the Champions League final for a fifth consecutive season. UNITED FANS! Check FourFourTwo.com’s ever-expanding interviews archive for more stuff to read: Web Exclusives Wayne Rooney, Peter Schmeichel, Carlos Tevez Q&A Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruud Van Nistlerooy One on One David Beckham, George Best Ask A Silly Question Bryan Robson Boy's A Bit Special Danny Simpson Perfect XI Garth Crooks, Bryan Robson, Sir Bobby Charlton, Eric Cantona What Happened Next? David May, Norman Whiteside Sing When You’re Winning Dominic Monaghan, Ian Brown And Another Thing Being a Big Four fan Plus! Rate United players (and others) on Talentspotter ARSENAL FANS! Check FourFourTwo.com’s ever-expanding interviews archive for more stuff to read: Web Exclusives Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas Q&A Theo Walcott, Cesc Fabregas One on One Arsene Wenger, Thierry Henry, Ian Wright Boy's A Bit Special Theo Walcott, Armand Traore Perfect XI Ian Wright What Happened Next? Gus Caesar, Peter Marinello And Another Thing Being a Big Four fan Plus! Rate Arsenal players (and others) on Talentspotter
15 April 2009
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