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Ronaldo delight as United march on

Published: Thursday 7 December 2006, 16.30CET
Cristiano Ronaldo tells uefa.com Manchester United FC were deserved group winners after they secured their place in the last 16 in fine style against SL Benfica.
by Simon Hart
from Old Trafford
Published: Thursday 7 December 2006, 16.30CET

Ronaldo delight as United march on

Cristiano Ronaldo tells uefa.com Manchester United FC were deserved group winners after they secured their place in the last 16 in fine style against SL Benfica.

Cristiano Ronaldo said Manchester United FC were deserved group winners after they secured their place in the UEFA Champions League's last 16 in style against SL Benfica.

'The best team'
With Celtic FC losing at FC København, United finished three points clear at the top of Group F after coming from behind to beat Benfica 3-1 at Old Trafford. "It's very important to finish top and I think we deserve that as we were the best team in the group," Ronaldo told uefa.com. "We knew Benfica would be confident after beating Sporting [Clube de Portugal] last week but we have a strong team, we were playing at home and we created many more chances than they did. We played very well and dominated almost the whole match. We're all delighted to get through to the next round."

Great goals
It was not entirely plain sailing as United fell behind to a stunning strike from Benfica full-back Nélson after 27 minutes. After equalising in first-half stoppage time through Nemanja Vidić, however, they did not look back. Ronaldo, in inspired form against the Portuguese visitors, set up Ryan Giggs for the decisive second goal with a perfect cross on 61 minutes before Louis Saha added the third. Giggs's strike means the 33-year-old has now found the net in the UEFA Champions League for eleven seasons running. "It was a fantastic goal by Nélson but Vidić, Giggs and Saha also scored great goals and we played very well," reflected Ronaldo. "When they scored the opening goal, the situation became a bit more complicated until we scored just before half-time. Then everything was easier."

Wake-up call
Those words were echoed by his captain Gary Neville, who admitted United only woke up after falling behind to Nélson's goal. "After the first 25 minutes we were a bit slow in getting out of the blocks to say the least but then we went to a high tempo and they found it difficult to live with us for the last hour of the match," he said. "The equaliser came at a crucial time just before half-time and meant we could come out in the second half and go at them knowing they had to attack us too."

Last updated: 07/12/06 12.34CET

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