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Man Utd draw as Rooney sees red
Simon Baskett | September 15, 2005 10:14 IST
Manchester United earned a 0-0 draw at Champions League newcomers Villarreal in their opening match in Group D on Wednesday despite having Wayne Rooney sent off 26 minutes from time.
The England striker was given his marching orders when he received two quick-fire bookings from Danish referee Kim Milton Nielsen, first for a foul on Villarreal defender Quique Alvarez and then for sarcastically applauding the decision in the official's face.
United, who have now won only one of their 16 games away to Spanish opposition, had marginally the better chances of what was a closely-contested tactical battle at the Madrigal.
United were forced to resist heavy pressure following the Rooney dismissal, but without injured playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme Villarreal were unable to prise open the visitors' defence.
Neither side took risks in the first half as they sized each other up in midfield and left little space at the back.
Villarreal, who tried to settle into their usual patient build-up play, managed to threaten with some neat combination play from former United striker Diego Forlan and midfielder Juan Pablo Sorin, but were unable to press keeper Edwin van der Sar into action.
It was United who manufactured the first scoring chance when Ronaldo sent a low glancing header towards the far post after a Paul Scholes's corner in the 18th minute but keeper Sebastian Viera made a great full-stretch save to turn the ball away for a corner.
The game developed into a tactical battle in midfield, but it briefly sparked into life seven minutes before the break when Villarreal prised open the United defence as Sorin flicked a neat backheeled pass into the path of Rodolfo Arruabarrena.
The defender's powerful shot was blocked by Van der Sar and four minutes later it was United who looked to have finally broken the deadlock.
Viera fumbled a Ronaldo free kick and Ruud van Nistelrooy appeared to have bundled the ball into the net only to see centre-back Gonzalo Rodriguez hook the ball acrobatically off the line while the Dutchman was about to celebrate the goal.
Villarreal striker Forlan almost grabbed a goal against his former side when he beat the offside trap early in the second half, but his shot faded past the far post, while opposite number van Nistelrooy had a close-range shot blocked by Viera a minute later.
The best effort came from Wayne Rooney who shaved the post with a powerful drive in the 54th minute, but the England striker blotted his copy book once more when he left his side with 10 men after he was sent off by Nielsen with nearly half an hour still to play.
Villarreal piled forward as they tried to cash in on their numerical advantage, but although midfielder Marcos Senna hit the bar with a late dipping free kick they were unable to prise open the United defence.