Ronaldo heads Man Utd to 1-0 win at Sporting

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LISBON, Sep 20 (Reuters) Cristiano Ronaldo headed Manchester United to a 1-0 win against his former club Sporting Lisbon in their opening Champions League Group F match.

Closely marked in the first half, the Portuguese international winger shook off his former team mates in the 62nd minute yesterday to score with a diving header off a Wes Brown cross from the right.

Ronaldo gestured to Sporting fans in a sign of forgiveness after his first goal in Alvalade stadium since he signed for United in 2003.

Sporting had two big chances to score but United goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar made two spectacular saves for the English champions that prevented the Lisbon side from equalising.

''I think that both of Van der Sar's saves reflect Sporting's good offensive game, especially in the first half ... but we finally managed to loosen our game and became dominant,'' said Fergurson's assistant Carlos Queiroz, a former Sporting coach.

The home side narrowly missed an equaliser in the final minutes when defender Tonel headed wide after Miguel Veloso's shot from outside the area was parried by Van der Sar.

''I think we delivered a good game against a great team,'' said Sporting coach Paulo Bento.

''But in the second half we didn't play as well as in the first half. We gave Ronaldo some space which we should have avoided.'' Ronaldo was applauded by about 40,000 fans when he left the field three minutes before the final whistle. He was replaced by Carlos Tevez.

Reuters BJR DB1004

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