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Roma and United share the spoils

Published: Thursday 13 December 2007, 0.25CET
AS Roma 1-1 Manchester United FC Mancini cancelled out Gerard Piqué's opener as it finished all-square between the top two sides in Group F.
by Richard Aikman
from Stadio Olimpico
Roma and United share the spoils
Gerard Piqué is congratulated by his team-mates ©Getty Images
Published: Thursday 13 December 2007, 0.25CET

Roma and United share the spoils

AS Roma 1-1 Manchester United FC Mancini cancelled out Gerard Piqué's opener as it finished all-square between the top two sides in Group F.

Manchester United FC and AS Roma ended the UEFA Champions League group stage with an honourable draw as Mancini struck on 71 minutes to cancel out Gerard Piqué's first-half header.

Parity reigns
It was Piqué's second goal in as many games in Europe's élite club competition and he was hoping it would help his team to their sixth consecutive Group F success. However, Mancini's strike was true and a fair reflection of an entertaining, open match.

United changes
With the top two places in the section already secured by these two clubs on Matchday 5, Sir Alex Ferguson made nine changes to the side that defeated Derby County FC on Saturday and his fledglings made a promising start. Their first shot on goal came within 60 seconds albeit from a United 'veteran' – the 22-year-old Wayne Rooney firing over from the left edge of the penalty area after Taddei had conceded possession in midfield.

Impressive start
The visitors began well. Piqué looked particularly assured at the back for the group winners, making a timely intervention to dispossess Francesco Totti as the hosts threatened a first attack, and denying Taddei in Roma's subsequent foray forward. At the other end, Rooney again tried to mark his first professional game as captain with a goal, his 18th-minute effort soaring over the crossbar. Roma settled, though, David Pizzarro testing Tomasz Kuszczak from distance and Antunes forcing the United goalkeeper to turn his left-wing cross over the bar.

Piqué goal
Cicinho then found Mauro Esposito with a curling centre from the opposite flank, which the striker glanced wide of the far post from no more than six metres out. United had provided aerial menace moments earlier when John O'Shea called Doni into action from Rooney's lofted delivery, and it was a header that broke the deadlock soon afterwards, Piqué nodding in Nani's corner from the left.

Narrow escape
The Serie A high-fliers, quite literally piqued, sought to rally and on 38 minutes almost drew level when Mancini hit the woodwork. Cicinho had found Totti in the box and the Giallorossi captain feigned to shoot before teeing up his team-mate. Mancini lifted the ball over Kuszczak only for it to rebound off the post and fall to Esposito, who headed over under pressure from O'Shea.

Dangerous game
Mancini again came close shortly before the break, meeting Antunes's cross only to be thwarted by Kuszczak's full-stretch save, while on the hour, Ahmed Apimah Barusso rifled narrowly wide from distance as the group runners-up pressed forward. Roma's approach left them exposed on the counterattack, however, and Chris Eagles almost made them pay when Nani raced clear only to send his centre a shade too far for the midfielder to direct at goal.

Vučinić impact
Doni kept his team in the match when he blocked Louis Saha's attempt, yet as the contest became stretched so Roma equalised. Substitute Mirko Vučinić played in Mancini who cut inside before curling a shot past Kuszczak. Vučinić had made an immediate impact and he almost made it 2-1 a minute later, blasting against the far post with Kuszczak again beaten. Then Luciano Spalletti's men almost stole the three points at the death, Ludovic Giuly driving wide and Antunes testing Kuszczak, but that would have been more than they merited.

Last updated: 13/12/07 1.15CET

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http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2008/matches/round=15105/match=301241/postmatch/report/index.html#roma+united+share+spoils

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