Early Doors

Rooney rises above Beckham hype

Early Doors

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Early Doors was all set up to do a 'Beckham-watch' style bit this morning after watching Milan host Manchester United.

5' - Gracefully swung in another sumptuous corner which one of his lesser team-mates fails to meet with a header.

13' - Sent tumbling by that brute Patrice Evra. Perfectly symmetrical cheekbones reflect the San Siro floodlights as he heroically hauls himself back to his feet.

That sort of thing.

In the event that ED had gone through with the plan, this would have been a very short blog indeed, as Beckham's appearance was comfortably overshadowed by Wayne Rooney, whose headed brace sealed a famous 3-2 win for United, breaking their winless, goalless run of four matches at the San Siro.

The surprise and excitement was palpable when word came that Beckham was going to start the match, but that was pretty much where the story ended.

Starting the evening on the field rather than the bench ruined the mystique and interest surrounding Becks. He would have been better off sat in the dugout, wearing a Blue Steel expression and a woolly hat at a daring new angle.

Instead, he gave a reminder of what a passenger he has largely been during his second spell in Serie A.

True, the opening goal was initiated by his free-kick from deep, but hacks are always duty-bound to report Beckham's key involvement in any goal so long as he takes as much as a touch in the minute leading up to it.

Instead, the headlines and plaudits rightly go to Rooney, and his match-winning display with Beckham on the field was symbolic of his eclipsing of the former England captain as England's star player.

After failing to score on his three previous European appearances this season, that performance may settle a few fears that the Premier League has been flattering his form somewhat.

If he has a decent World Cup, and then hits a purple patch again in October, it looks as though he will be in the mix for the awards. Beckham certainly thinks so.

Still, he's only bagged half as many Champions League goals as Michael Owen this season, so perhaps he ain't so hot.

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There's nothing like a landmark result such as the United win, especially one secured by England's star player, to bring the best out of the back page subs:

San Siroo/The Wayne and Only (Daily Mirror)

Headmaster/Towering Rooney is hero of San Siro (Daily Mail)

Wayne's a San hero (Metro)

Bootiful (The Sun, in tribute to Rooney scoring twice with his head. Rescued by another San Siroo inside the paper)

Head man Roo/Wizard Wayne wrecks Becks (Daily Star. Head man Roo? Apparently the Star's headlines are written by the same people who send messages into Text Maniacs)

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Tonight it is the turn of Arsenal to get their knockout campaign underway on day two of what will eventually become an eight-matchday second round.

The Gunners travel to Porto with a heavily depleted squad, as Andrei Arshavin, Alex Song, William Gallas and Eduardo all stayed at home.

On the plus side, however, so did Manuel Almunia. There has been a spate of injuries so severe in the Arsenal camp that even Pat Rice will have to undergo a late fitness test at the Estadio do Dragao.

A patched-up Arsenal defence, which may well include Sol Campbell, will face a Porto striker in Hulk who is desperate to be let off the leash.

The Brazilian has not played since being handed a six-month domestic ban for a fracas in the tunnel against Benfica in December.

Having already scored three goals in the tournament this season, the strong physical forward could well be the man to ruin Arsenal's last shot at glory for yet another season.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The goal in the second half is a good goal. There is no doubt Ryan gets up. Look at (Kolo) Toure's reaction - his head is in his hands and he is on his knees. It is a good goal and why the referee has disallowed it I just don't know, and it is very disappointing for us." - Tony Pulis calls for referees to take players' reactions into account more before making big decisions following Ryan Shawcross's disallowed goal in Stoke's 1-1 draw with Manchester City.

FOREIGN VIEW: "Fifty per cent of the players who will be at the World Cup, I've already told them. For many this is the definitive test because there is no more time." - Diego Maradona says it's now or never for many of Argentina's fringe players as he names his squad to face Germany in a friendly next month.

COMING UP: Our second of four double doses of Champions League last 16 action this evening - follow live text commentary of Porto v Arsenal and Bayern Munich v Fiorentina at 19:45. If that's not enough glamour for you, then we'll also be following Wigan Athletic v Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League, while there is scoring of St Johnstone v Hibernan in the SPL, Rangers v St Mirren in the Scottish Cup, two Championship clashes and one from League Two.

That lot would all make for a tasty accumulator at Eurosport Bet.

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