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Knocking down Roma in a day: Remembering Manchester United’s 7-1 victory over Roma

On the 10 April 2007, Manchester United were on their way to winning their first Premier League title in four years. But it was to be a European tie that would make sure that this day went down in history for United. The previous week Manchester United and AS Roma had been involved in a high-octane, quarter-final first leg UEFA Champions League game, it was a feisty affair both on and off the Stadio Olimpico pitch. The Romans were to prevail with a 2-1 victory, which they hoped would put them in pole position to qualify for the semi-finals of the competition.

Having attended the game, you could just sense that this had the making of being a night that all those fans attending the game would never forget. After the crowd trouble that had sadly taken place in Rome, there was a higher, more intimidating police presence at the game. This, in my view, only added to this great tension that surrounded the game. Inside the ground, both before the game and during the game, the noise that the Old Trafford crowd was generating was like nothing I’d heard before at this famous stadium. This just convinced me further that this game was not going to be any ordinary game.

On to the game and the team visibly lifted by their home crowd, started quickly and were on top of their opponents from the outset. Once the game had settled down, both sides started to show attacking intentions. However, it was United who grabbed control of the tie with three goals in eight first-half minutes. The first two of these goals coming from unlikely goalscoring sources in Michael Carrick and Alan Smith, with the latter probably having his best game since returning from a broken leg suffered at Anfield in 2006.

The third goal of this electrifying first-half spell was scored by Wayne Rooney after the Italian side had been completely torn apart by the quality of United’s play down the right-hand side. There was time to make it 4-0 before the break (5-2 on aggregate) with a superb finish from Cristiano Ronaldo, in a game and a season where the Portuguese winger was showing the potential to become the best player in the world. After a half-time break, where there was a constant buzz of noise and chatter many fans probably scarcely believing what they had just seen from the Reds.

A match in which supporters would have thought they’d be turning up to see a tight, tense, nervous affair was quite the opposite and instead, the tie was probably over after the first 45 minutes. The second half began and it’s fair to say United did not let up after the break and continued to be simply superb. Both Ronaldo and Carrick doubled their tally in the game and these two goals took United to six for the Match. Roma then scored a scant consolation with 20 minutes to go.

But United were to have the last say in what was and still is the best game I have ever seen at Old Trafford, Patrice Evra rounding off this fine display with a fine strike to it make 7-1 (8-3 on aggregate). This was to be the clubs biggest win in Europe since they beat Irish side Waterford on their way to winning the 1968 European Cup. Leaving the ground, fans like myself wouldn’t just have been stoked about what they had seen in this game, but about what United could have potentially achieved in Europe that season.

They were now in to the semi-finals, just three games away from being back at Europe’s top table for the first time since 1999. Unfortunately United lost to AC Milan 5-3 on aggregate in the semi-finals that season, largely due to the brilliance of the Brazilian Kaka over the two legs. However, the famous Roma game was to provide a reminder to everyone that United could once again win the Champions League under Sir Alex Ferguson. They only had to wait a further two years where they were to lift the European trophy in Moscow for the third time in their history.

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