CRISTIANO RONALDO claimed the wonder goal that took Manchester United into the Champions League semi-finals last night was the best of his career.
Ronaldo struck after just six minutes, drilling home an incredible effort from fully 35 yards to set up a last-four duel with old rivals Arsenal.
The Portugal superstar’s 20th goal of the season was worthy of winning any game. And Ronaldo admitted he had never scored a better one.
“It is the best I have scored,” he said. “It was a fantastic strike and I can’t wait to see it again on DVD. I am very happy with it.”
The goal put Porto on the back foot almost immediately.
And, although United were forced to survive a few scary moments, Alex Ferguson was never concerned his side would lose their precious lead.
It means, for the first time, United must face English opposition in a two-legged European tie, with old rival Arsene Wenger lying in wait for a battle to decide who’ll go to Rome.
“It would be tough no matter who we played but the fact it is another English side gives a different type of spice to it,” said Ferguson.
“We are two good footballing sides, so it should be a terrific semi-final.
“Our game earlier in the season was fantastic. It was the way football should be played and we will look forward to it. The first leg is at home, so 1-0 would be perfect for us. But it is not going to be easy.”
Ferguson added that the return of Rio Ferdinand was a key factor.
“Rio coming back was a major part of our success,” said the United boss.
“He and Nemanja Vidic have a partnership that goes back three years. They have a great understanding of the game and there is a good balance between them. Rio coming back allowed us to cement a back four to what it really is.”
The contributions of Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs were also crucial, as was the secure goalkeeping of Edwin van der Sar. But, as Ferguson acknowledged, none of it would have mattered without the contribution of Ronaldo’s 20th goal of the season – and only his second in the Champions League since last year’s final.
“I will have to trawl a long way back through my memory bank to come up with anything as good as that,” said Ferguson. “It was a sensational goal. It was a great strike and to do it so early gave us the platform to go on. It put them on the back foot and I don’t think they had a chance after that.”
Porto assistant coach Jose Gomes felt the hosts had been unlucky.
“It was not a fair result. We did really well at Old Trafford but the ball just would not go in for us this evening.”
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