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Man United, Arsenal advance to semifinals

MANCHESTER United and Arsenal made it three English teams in the semifinals of the Champions League, both winning yesterday to join Chelsea and Barcelona in the next round.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored with a great shot from 40 meters (yards) in the sixth minute to give United a 1-0 win at FC Porto in the second leg of the quarterfinals and a 3-2 aggregate victory, while Arsenal defeated Villarreal 3-0 at Emirates Stadium to advance 4-1.

In the semifinals, United will play Arsenal at Old Trafford on April 29, and then travel to London for the second leg on May 5.

On Tuesday, both Chelsea and Barcelona advanced with draws and will play each other in the other semifinal. Chelsea held on to oust Liverpool 7-5 on aggregate after a 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge, and two-time champion Barcelona advanced past Bayern Munich 5-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw in Germany.

United coach Alex Ferguson, who was marking his 150th Champions League match in charge of the club, had said earlier this week that he expected more from Ronaldo. The Portugal forward, who was jeered by the local fans with every touch, replied with an impressive individual effort for his second goal of the competition.

Ronaldo began his run from just inside the Porto half in the sixth minute and sent a rising shot past goalkeeper Helton and into the top corner.

"Unbelievable. A magnificent hit. Absolutely unbelievable," Ferguson said. "The goalkeeper's got no chance."

Defending champion United stretched its unbeaten run in the Champions League to 23 games by becoming the first English team to win at Porto in 12 matches. The English team won a second leg away from home for the first time since 1999, when it went on to win the continent's top club competition.

"We feel that wasn't a very just result today," Jose Gomes, who replaced suspended coach Jesualdo Ferreira, said through a translator. "They scored one goal today and it was scored by the best player in the world."

Theo Walcott, Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie scored the goals for Arsenal, which lost to Barcelona in the 2006 final.

"It will be a big challenge (to face Manchester United in the semifinals) but we will fancy that," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "We are excited and will give everything to win. I believe that both teams, Man United and Arsenal, make very exciting games. Both teams like to go forward. We will be up for the challenge and it will be very interesting."

Walcott chipped the ball over goalkeeper Diego Lopez and inside the far post in the 10th minute to give Arsenal the lead, and Adebayor scored his ninth goal in his last nine Champions League games in the 60th after a pass from Van Persie.

In the 69th, Diego Godin upended Walcott just inside the area on the right and Van Persie converted from the penalty spot.

Villarreal, which was without captain Marcos Senna, played the last 20 minutes with 10 men because Sebastian Eguren was sent off by German referee Wolfgang Stark for arguing over the penalty decision that led to Van Persie's goal.

"They were better than us," Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini said. "At 2-0 we still had a chance but it was very difficult to come back."


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