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Ronaldo through but Messi is the outstanding player PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 May 2008

REUTERS, MANCHESTER- According to his peers in England, Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo remains the Premier League's outstanding player but when it comes to the world stage he may still have to bow to Lionel Messi.

It is Ronaldo not Messi who will grace the final of the Champions League after the Portugal international, voted the Player of the Year by his fellow players for the second year running, helped United to overcome Barcelona in their semi-final.

No-one, though, could have done more than Messi to try to influence the second leg at Old Trafford on Tuesday—apart from Paul Scholes who scored the only goal of United's 1-0 victory.

The 20-year-old Messi, three years Ronaldo's junior, was the outstanding attacking player on show and almost single-handedly led Barcelona's attempt to claw back Scholes's early goal and take the 2006 winners through to Moscow with an away goal.

Though United defended well, they could hardly lay a finger on the bewitching winger who rode tackle after tackle to try to create the decisive opening.

One typically elusive run and shot in the first half had Edwin van der Sar at full stretch to save. Thereafter, the Argentina international picked and probed at the United back line to create openings for team mates which they were unable to take.

Ronaldo's tally of 38 goals this season, including seven in the Champions League, represents an outstanding return and at times he has proved almost untouchable.

The effort of leading United's pursuit of a domestic and European double appears to be taking its toll, however, and while there was no questioning his commitment to the cause in close to 180 minutes since missing an early penalty in the Nou Camp last week he failed to hurt Barcelona. What he does have, though, is another chance to state his case in Moscow on May 21, while Messi can only watch and wonder.

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