Arsene Wenger’s dig at Cristiano Ronaldo backfired big time when Man Utd beat Arsenal
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On this day in 2009, Manchester United put Arsenal to the sword in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final showdown. Cristiano Ronaldo was the star of the show, bagging twice at the Emirates Stadium after Ji-Sung Park had opened the scoring. And the Portugal international also made Arsene Wenger’s dig look rather foolish with his brace in north London.
Just two months before United put Arsenal to the sword, Wenger aimed a dig at Ronaldo and labelled him ‘cocky’.
“With Manchester United I’m a bit cautious because sometimes I feel they get too much protection and sometimes they don’t get enough,” he said.
“Ronaldo is a specific example of that. Sometimes his arrogance is provocative, and his class as well.”
While Wenger was appreciative of Ronaldo’s talent, it appeared he had an issue with the player’s personality.
And he was certainly left reeling when the Portugal international stepped up to end his, and his side’s hopes, of Champions League glory.
In the first leg at Old Trafford, Arsenal were just about able to subdue the forward.
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Yet they still lost 1-0, with John O’Shea scoring and Ronaldo hitting the bar with a thunderbolt shot from distance.
In the second game at the Emirates, however, Arsenal found themselves unable to live with the Portugal international.
Park put United ahead early on, silencing the support of the home crowd in the process.
And Ronaldo then scored a sublime brace – with a free-kick and a superb counter-attack – to fire his team through to the final.
It was an electric display from the forward, who revelled in all the attention in the aftermath of the game.
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And Sir Alex Ferguson was immensely proud of his No 7, saying after the game: “I thought they couldn’t handle Ronaldo. That made a big difference.
“The midfield was working its socks off, we had good shape and the defensive positions were covered but we needed someone to give them real problems and Ronaldo in that form, he’s a fantastic player,” he said.
“We weren’t overcome by Arsenal’s start to the game – they were moving and the crowd were going but we kept playing our football.
“Once we transferred the ball to Ronaldo, it was a big problem for them.
“We got a good start and that made the difference. Two quick goals like that against a young team, I don’t think, wherever you play, you can recover from that.
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“It was a mountain to climb, especially as it was 1-0 from the first game.
“The third goal was marvellous. At that point, Arsenal were throwing everything forward and we caught them really.
“The speed of the play was fantastic.”
And Wenger himself admitted he was gutted after the game.
The Frenchman said: “It’s the most disappointing defeat.
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“The fans were up for a big night and to disappoint people, it hurts really.
“The most difficult thing for me is that we have the feeling that we never played in the semi-final.
“We started quite well but the most disappointing thing was that the game was over before it started.
“That is hard to swallow. We can only look at ourselves.
“It’s very disappointing to fight such a long way and then to give the game away like we did.”
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