PORTO, April 16 – Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson hailed Ronaldo after his wonder goal gave the three-time winners victory over Porto in Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final.
The World Player of the Year’s sixth-minute thunderbolt gave United a 1-0 win at the Dragao Stadium, where no English team has won before, and a 3-2 aggregate win which sees them meet fellow English team Arsenal in the semi-finals.
"It was sensational, a great, great strike," Ferguson purred. "I would need to go in the memory bank to think of a better goal than that.
"It gave us a real platform. We wanted to start quickly but no-one could have expected that type of goal."
The relieved boss explained that he deployed Ronaldo, returning to his homeland, in a more central role than usual with United desperate to breach the hosts’ defence.
"He’s the quickest player we have and we thought in this role he could stretch the back four. He’s played better, but he’s always a threat," he added.
United’s main worry in recent weeks has been their defence, and few people gave them a chance of shutting out a Porto team who had carved them open at Old Trafford just a week ago.
The Scot attributed his team’s new steeliness to returning centre-back, Rio Ferdinand.
"The main difference from last week was Ferdinand’s return, it gave us the defensive foundation which has been a major part of our success in the past and they never really looked like scoring."
Despite their poor first leg performance, Ferguson believed that the best team had prevailed overall.
"It’s a fair result, we had to come here and win, there was no other way. There wasn’t a lot in it but I think we produced the better football tonight and for the second-half at Old Trafford," he said.
This was not a view shared by the Porto camp.
"It wasn’t a very just result today or overall," Porto assistant manager Jose Gomes said. "We are all suffering, the whole squad and supporters."
The assistant urged his players to build on the experience after pushing the English giants all the way.
"We wanted more but our opponents were Manchester United and they are the best team in the world. The goal was scored by Ronaldo and he is the best player in the world," he said.
"We should remember it is very rare to see any team play at Old Trafford the way did last week and also the second-half today, we should all be proud," he added.