It is next stop the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for Manchester United FC after Cristiano Ronaldo's 41st-minute goal secured a 1-0 victory against Olympique Lyonnais and a 2-1 aggregate triumph. Ronaldo's 30th strike of the season proved enough for Sir Alex Ferguson's team but it was not all plain sailing against a Lyon side who ensured some nervy moments in the second half, notably when substitute Kader Keita struck a post.
A scoreless draw would have been sufficient for United yet the English champions know only one way to play and soon had Lyon on the back foot. The lively Anderson, given licence to roam ahead of Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher in midfield, released Ronaldo down the right with a superb early crossfield ball and very nearly got on the end of the return pass. Lyon goalkeeper Grégory Coupet had told United's Patrice Evra that the French title-holders were only too conscious of the fate AS Roma suffered here when trying to play United at their own game last term; hence Alain Perrin's men were happy to sit back and bide their time.
Lyon under pressure
They lived dangerously when Ronaldo nearly connected with Nani's corner, then it took a fine tackle from Jérémy Toulalan to halt Anderon's surge into the box. At the other end Benzema found the space to drive over from 20 metres, but it was not until the half-hour that Lyon's attackers advanced in numbers. Benzema instigated the move by holding the ball up, despite the attention of three United defenders, allowing black shirts to stream forward. Although Juninho Pernambucano's ball into the area was cleared, Lyon came again and Kim Källstrom tested Edwin van der Sar from outside the box.
However, it was Ronaldo who made the breakthrough four minutes from half-time when Nani and Wes Brown combined down the right and the latter's cross was deflected by Fabio Grosso to Anderson. The Brazilian's low shot fell conveniently at the feet of Ronaldo in front of goal and, although François Clerc tried to clear, Ronaldo's reactions were quicker as he turned the ball inside Coupet's near post for his sixth goal in this season's competition.
Lyon had no option but to attack in the second period and some sloppy play by United afforded Hatem Ben Arfa – who later fooled Fletcher with a delightful dragback – an early sight of goal but he shot over. While committing more men forward, they struggled to pick holes in the home defence, however. Källstrom sent a speculative effort wide and Clerc and Benzema failed to contrive an opportunity after a dangerous-looking foray down the right. Eventually a chance did come, Keita collecting the ball from the increasingly dangerous Benzema and driving it low past Van der Sar, only to see it rebound off the near post.
With space opening up at the other end, Lyon were susceptible to counterattacks and United missed chances to kill the visitors off. Coupet did well to foil Rooney after the striker had latched on to a misplaced pass; Rooney then stabbed wide after combining with substitute Carlos Tévez. As it was, one goal was enough to ensure United progressed into the draw on 14 March and, in the process, equalled Juventus's record of ten successive home wins in the UEFA Champions League.