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Wednesday, March 17, 1999 Published at 20:44 GMT


Sport: Football

Mighty United march on

On the break: Cole races clear of Inter defender Colonnese

Inter Milan 1-1 Man Utd
Aggregate: 1-3

Manchester United moved a step closer to European glory after surviving a nerve-jangling night in Milan.


Alan Green reports for BBC Radio 5 Live
The English challengers reached the last four of the European Cup thanks to a Paul Scholes equaliser two minutes from the end of the second leg of their quarter-final clash.

A second half goal from substitute Nicola Ventola had put the Italians in front on the night and Alex Ferguson's side were under severe pressure for most of the match.

But the Italians failed to convert the chances that came their way and United's passage into the semi-finals was ultimately secured by their terrific 2-0 victory in the first leg at Old Trafford.

United produced an impressive defensive display, inspired by the excellent Henning Berg, and Inter's multi-million pound strikeforce was unable to come up with the three goals the home side needed.


[ image: Ronaldo only lasted an hour on his return to the side]
Ronaldo only lasted an hour on his return to the side
Manager Alex Ferguson admitted his side had ridden their luck in the first half, as they were saved by the woodwork and the referee - but he was delighted with their display.

"They were fantastic," Ferguson said. "In general play I thought we were excellent - composure, the possession on the ball. I'm very, very proud of them.

"They were all outstanding. They've deserved the result. There have been times in the past when we haven't got the luck."

Ronaldo returns

Inter were given the perfect boost before the kick-off when Brazilian superstar Ronaldo was included in the starting line-up.

But the two-time World Player of the Year, who has been dogged by a knee problem in recent weeks and missed the first leg, looked well short of match fitness and struggled throughout.

Ferguson's controversial comments before the game about the ability of Italian players to deceive referees were given an extra edge after just 16 minutes.

Ivan Zamorano raced clear into the United box and appeared to be brought down by Peter Schmeichel's clumsy challenge, but the French referee waved away Inter's vocal claims for a penalty.

Berg does it again

The home side shrugged off their disappointment and continued to bombard the United box.


[ image: Berg slides in to tackle the livewire Zamorano]
Berg slides in to tackle the livewire Zamorano
Schmeichel saved from Zamorano, then Berg, who cleared the ball off the line in the last minute at Old Trafford, then produced another last-gasp clearance, hooking away Javier Zanetti's cross to prevent Zamorano scoring a certain goal.

United had a slice of luck when the impressive Zanetti beat Schmeichel with an angled drive from the edge of the area, only to see the ball thud against the far post.

Berg, who was fast emerging as United's defensive hero, denied Ronaldo with a desperate lunge just as the Brazilian pulled the trigger.

United had few chances in the first half, but Dwight Yorke nearly converted Ryan Giggs' cross at the far post and Andy Cole sent the ball over the bar after good work from Ronny Johnsen.

Schmeichel stands tall

Schmeichel, whose saves did so much to give United victory a fortnight ago managed another stunning stop at the start of the second half, keeping out Ronaldo's point-blank drive after the ailing striker forced his way into the area.


[ image: Argentine midfielder Diego Simeone was forced off injured early on]
Argentine midfielder Diego Simeone was forced off injured early on
The referee then proved he was in no mood to be swayed by the partisan crowd, as he dismissed two dubious Inter penalty claims when Ronaldo and Ze Elias crumpled in the box.

Ronaldo at last was withdrawn after 59 minutes, Nicola Ventola replacing him, much to the delight of the relief of the frustrated home fans.

And it took just four minutes for the substitute to make his mark.

Roy Keane, who has been so influential for United this season, was at fault as Inter forced their way back into the game at 2-1. The Irishman slipped in the box as he tried to clear a routine through-ball and Ventola was able to send a side-footed shot past Schmeichel.

Scholes to the rescue

Cole could have put the tie out of sight for United on 76 minutes but he scuffed his shot after roasting the Inter defence.

But still the pressure on United was unrelenting.

Zanetti and Moriero both came close, but the best chance to equalise fell to Ze Elias eight minutes from time, when he dragged a left-foot shot wide with the goal at his mercy.

United were able to breathe a sigh of relief in the 88th minute, Scholes keeping his cool to beat Gianluca Pagliuca after Cole's header found him unmarked six yards out.

Teams:

Inter Milan: Pagliuca, Colonnese, Silvestre, Bergomi, West, Zanetti, Simeone, Cauet, Baggio, Zamorano, Ronaldo. Subs: Frey, Galante, Djorkaeff, Winter, Ventola, Ze Elias, Moriero.

Man Utd: Schmeichel, G. Neville, Irwin, Stam, Berg, Keane, Johnsen, Giggs, Beckham, Cole, Yorke. Subs: Van Der Gouw, Sheringham, P. Neville, Blomqvist, Scholes, Brown, Solskjaer.

Referee: Gilles Veissiere (France)



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