All four of England’s teams in the European Champions League advanced to the quarterfinals for the second straight year, led by defending champion Manchester United.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first European goal since last season’s victorious final, helping Manchester United to a 2-0 victory over Inter Milan in a matchup of English and Italian leaders on Wednesday night.
“When we scored at 2-0, it killed the game,” Ronaldo said. “Then our defense did a fantastic job, and at end of day we deserved to win.”
Nemanja Vidic scored the opening goal for United, which won the home-and-home, total-goals series 2-0.
“That was one of these long European nights—you don’t know if you are watching a game of football or a game of suicide,” United manager Alex Ferguson said. “After we scored the first goal, I thought we could kill them, but we were lucky to be in front at half time.”
Arsenal defeated AS Roma 7-6 on penalty kicks following a 1-0 loss in Rome that left their home-and-home series 1-1 on aggregate. A day earlier, Liverpool and Chelsea also moved on to the final eight of European club soccer’s top competition.
“I think we can be very proud that we have four teams for the second year now,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “I was very worried tonight that if we were the only team to go out, it would have been detrimental.”
They’ll be joined by Barcelona and Porto, which advanced Wednesday, a day after Bayern Munich and Spain’s Villarreal. The draw for the quarterfinals and semifinals is March 20.
“It’s obvious that the Premier League teams have got the upper hand at the moment in the Champions League,” Ferguson said.
Vidic put Manchester ahead when he headed Ryan Giggs’ corner kick past goalkeeper Julio Cesar in the fourth minute. Vidic spun around Patrick Vieira and found space behind Ivan Cordoba.
Ronaldo scored on a header four minutes into the second half, after Wayne Rooney took a pass from Giggs and chipped between Esteban Cambiasso and Walter Samuel. It was the first Champions League goal for Ronaldo since last year’s final against Chelsea.
Inter’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic hit the crossbar and Adriano struck a post as Jose Mourinho lost for just the second time in 14 matches against Ferguson.
“My players did absolutely everything they possibly could do,” Mourinho said. “They should not be criticized or questioned. We played a very good game, we really played to our full potential. You can’t just turn up and expect to win the Champions League just like that. One way is to putting together a team with a huge amount of money that is not around any longer and buy superstars. The second way is to build a team that matures over the course of time.”
Seeking five titles this season, United already has won the Club World Cup and England’s League Cup. It leads the Premier League and is in the English, FA Cup semifinals.
In other second-round matches, Barcelona beat visiting Lyon 5-2 to win the home-and-home series 6-3, and Porto played a 0-0 tie against visiting Athletic Madrid, leaving aggregate tied 2-2 and advancing the Portuguese club on away goals.
At Rome, Juan scored in the ninth minute but there were no other goals through 120 minutes. Doni saved the opening penalty kick, by Arsenal’s Eduardo da Silva, but Robert Van Persie, Theo Walcott, Samir Nasri, Denilson, Kolo Toure, Bacary Sagna and Abou Diaby all converted for the Gunners.
David Pizarro made the opening kick for the hosts, but Mirko Vucinic sent Roma’s second penalty at goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, who parried it with his legs. Julio Baptista, Vincenzo Montella, Franceco Totti, Alberto Aquilani and John Arne Riise then converted before Max Tonetto put Roma’s eighth kick over the crossbar.
At Barcelona, Thierry Henry scored in the 25th and 27th minutes for the hosts, who also got goals from Lionel Messi (40th), Samuel Eto’o (43rd) and Seydou Keita (second-half injury time). Lyon’s goals were scored by Jean Il Makoum (44th) and Juninho (48th).