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Monday, Dec. 22, 2008

CLUB WORLD CUP

Rooney lifts United to first CWC title


Staff writer

YOKOHAMA — Manchester United overcame a second-half red card for Nemanja Vidic to win the Club World Cup with a 1-0 victory over LDU Quito on Sunday.

News photo
Clutch performer: Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (10), who was named the Club World Cup's top player, finishes with the match-winning goal in the 1-0 tournament final on Sunday at International Yokohama Stadium. KYODO PHOTOS

Inspired goalkeeping from Jose Cevallos kept the Ecuadoreans in the game as United took the first-half attacking initiative, but Vidic's 49th-minute dismissal for an elbow on Claudio Bieler changed the complexion of the game.

LDU looked to be gaining the upper hand in front of 68,682 fans at International Stadium Yokohama, but player of the tournament Wayne Rooney rifled home a pass from Cristiano Ronaldo in the 73rd minute to give the European champion a lead it did not relinquish.

The win earned United its second world title, and Rooney was happy to play his part in making history.

"It is something we have worked very hard for, and we are delighted to be world champions," he said.

"It really took an effort tonight, especially going down to 10 men, and we had to defend as a team. We have been amazed by the amount of fans who have traveled here to see us. We are the best team in the world, and they are the best fans in the world."

Manager Alex Ferguson praised his players for their performance after Vidic's departure.

"It affected us in terms of the penetration we showed in the first half," he said. "After that we had to have more discipline, and I certainly thought we were heading for extra time.

"But in fairness I think we still played with great expression and we still tried to win the game. That is the measure of the ambition our players have."

LDU manager Edgardo Bauza was disappointed in defeat, but happy with what his players achieved after becoming the first Ecuadorean winner of the Copa Libertadores earlier this year.

"I'm very proud of my players," he said. "We were defeated and it is sad, but we knew we were the underdogs. We are very happy to have come this far.

"It took us about 20 minutes to get used to Manchester and the atmosphere. They went a man down, but we weren't able to take advantage."

LDU carved out the first chance when an early free kick found its way through to Jairo Campos in the box, but the defender could not direct the ball on target as United escaped a nightmare start.

News photo
Manchester United players celebrate the team's 1-0 victory in the Club World Cup final against LDU Quito of Ecuador at International Stadium Yokohama on Sunday.

Rooney forced a good save from Cevallos in the 10th minute, and the 'keeper again felt the England striker's sting when he diverted a drive past the post with his shoulder minutes later.

Ronaldo was also enjoying plenty of possession, and the European player of the year created the chance of the first half when he slipped past his man to deliver a cross for Carlos Tevez waiting in the box. The Argentine stooped low to meet the ball, but again Cevallos was on hand to shut the door with an excellent diving save.

The 'keeper's heroics allowed LDU to go into the break with a clean sheet, and things would get better for the Ecuadorean side when Vidic saw red after the break.

Alejandro Manso went close as he drew a diving save from Edwin van der Sar, and if United needed a further reminder of LDU's lurking menace, William Araujo provided it with a fierce shot on goal soon after.

But just when it looked like LDU might make its numerical advantage count, Rooney put United in front.

Michael Carrick found Ronaldo with a slide-rule pass into the box, and the Portuguese laid the ball off for Rooney to fire into the corner of the net.

The goal jolted LDU into a desperate surge forward, but van der Sar tipped a Manso shot over the bar in the dying minutes, and United kept its cool to claim the prize it came for.



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