Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United

Manchester United crush Arsenal, reach Champions League final in Rome

Manchester United swept back into the Champions League final as the holders produced a stunning 3-1 win over Arsenal in their semi-final second leg.

Alex Ferguson's side arrived at the Emirates Stadium holding only a slender 1-0 lead from last week's first leg, but United scored twice in the first 11 minutes to set up a 4-1 aggregate triumph that booked their place in the final against Chelsea or Barcelona, who meet in their decider Wednesday.

For once the normally subdued Emirates crowd were at fever pitch, but Ferguson had talked up United's intention to press for a crucial away goal and they were true to his word.

Goal Highlights

In the eighth minute, Anderson slipped a pass to Ronaldo down the left and the Portugal winger proved he had
adapted to his new role as a lone forward by finding space in the penalty area to whip in a low cross.

Even then Arsenal should have cleared the danger but Gibbs, a teenage midfielder pressed into service at left-back in the absence of Gael Clichy, slipped over and could only watch from a prone position as Park took a touch before guiding his shot past Almunia.

As Ferguson and his staff danced a jubilant jig you could feel the momentum draining from Arsenal. There was worse to come three minutes later.

When van Persie fouled Ronaldo way out on the right flank, there appeared little danger.

But Almunia had reckoned without Ronaldo's flair for the unexpected. Ronaldo had scored from 40 yards to beat Porto in the last round and, from a similar distance, he took aim and launched a thunderous strike towards Almunia, who appeared to lose sight of the ball as it flashed past him at the near post.

Wenger sat ashen-faced on the bench as Arsenal's proud record of 27 home European matches without defeat fell apart, and the match had barely begun.

United were rampant and it took a superb finger-tip save from Almunia to stop Wayne Rooney curling in a third goal.

The visitors continued to counter-attack imperiously after half-time and in the 61st minute Ronaldo capped a sublime break in clinical style.

He started the move with a backheel to Park, who cleverly spread play wide to Rooney on the left. Rooney's cross was perfectly weighted for Ronaldo to drive past Almunia.

Game over, and Ferguson could even afford the luxury of substituting Rooney and Patrice Evra to ensure the duo didn't earn a booking which would have ruled them out of the final - Fletcher was not to be so lucky.


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