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Wayne Rooney has Wembley in his sights after helping Manchester United FC take a firm grip on their semi-final contest with FC Schalke 04, though the England striker stressed the Premier League leaders could not afford to show any complacency in next week's return.
United's impressive 2-0 victory in Gelsenkirchen leaves Sir Alex Ferguson's men on the brink of a third UEFA Champions League final in four years. Such was the visitors' dominance that few would bet on Schalke, 5-2 winners at FC Internazionale Milano in the last round, repeating the feat when the teams reconvene at Old Trafford next Wednesday.
Rooney, who set up Ryan Giggs's opening goal after 67 minutes and added the second 120 seconds later, told UEFA.com: "Of course, to get the two away goals was a great result for us.
We all saw what they did to Inter Milan in the San Siro so we won't be taking them lightly but we're hoping we can go and finish the job off. It would be great if we could get to play a final at Wembley."
Despite their position at the Premier League summit United have earned mixed reviews this season and even Sir Alex Ferguson admitted on the eve of this match to some disappointment with his side's away form. Yet they had Schalke chasing shadows with their speed of passing and movement and only a superb display by home goalkeeper Manuel Neuer kept them at bay before Giggs and Rooney's second-half goals.
Rooney added: "We defended really well and in the midfield we had Giggs, [Michael] Carrick, me coming in there, and everyone's comfortable on the ball. [Antonio] Valencia's got a lot of pace, Ji-Sung Park works hard and counterattacking we looked dangerous. Their goalkeeper made some unbelievable saves and you're wondering if it's going to be one of those nights but thankfully we got the two goals."
United had 65% of possession and ended the match with ten shots on target – double the number they had managed in their two previous UEFA Champions League away matches combined. Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar added: "We saw some opportunities for us to create some chances but we didn't expect as many as we had in the first half. We played well we defended well, we attacked well with the midfielders and strikers, [there was] a lot of movement. They had some shots from distance but that was it."
Van der Sar's clean sheet means United's defence remains unbreached on their travels in this term's competition, while the 37-year-old Giggs's strike makes him the oldest scorer in the UEFA Champions League. Yet the spotlight shone brightest on Rooney who has recovered his best form at the end of a sometimes difficult season.
That he performed so well at the scene of his sending-off at the 2006 FIFA World Cup makes for great copy but the player himself claimed it was incidental. Rooney said: "I saw that on the news today and I didn't even realise it was this stadium to be honest. I am obviously delighted. The most important thing was the result and I was delighted to get the goal as well."
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