Rooney moves to deflect blame from Ronaldo

By JOE BERNSTEIN at Old Trafford

Last updated at 10:58 13 August 2006

Wayne Rooney yesterday moved to protect his Manchester United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo from further abuse by claiming he had acted as badly as the Portugal winger during the World Cup quarter-final last month.

Match report: Man Utd v Sevilla

'I was trying to get him booked by the referee for diving in the first half but people probably haven't seen that,' said Rooney of his own role in the now infamous England-Portugal match in Gelsenkirchen on July 1. 'If you look at the game again, you will see it. 'And when I got sent off, a lot of Portugal players ran over, not just Cristiano. We are good friends and things are fine between us.

I think he is big enough to handle any booing from away fans. To be honest, he has been booed by them anyway for the past two years.'

Rooney's intervention is aimed at taking the pressure off Ronaldo in time for next Sunday's Premiership opener against Fulham, which the England striker is likely to miss because of a groin injury.

Ronaldo, barracked by Oxford fans in his first outing since the World Cup on Tuesday, received a thunderous standing ovation from United fans yesterday. He scored with a free-kick and set up another goal as United celebrated the opening of their newly extended stadium by beating Sevilla 3-0.

Ronaldo's United team-mates, who did not include the injured Rooney, mobbed him in delight as he marked his first game back at Old Trafford since the World Cup with a bang.

Any fears Ronaldo might have had that United fans blame him for getting Rooney sent off last month disappeared when his name was cheered loudly before kick-off.

And when he brilliantly set up United's first goal for Louis Saha midway through the second half, the 40,000 crowd rose to him as his team-mates rushed to the touchline to congratulate him for his assist.

He then scored a late second goal with a wickedly curling free-kick before David Jones added a third in injury time.

Assistant manager Carlos Queiroz said he hoped that all Premiership fans will end up cheering the United star this season.

'Football needs players like Cristiano who are creative and play with so much fantasy and fun,' he said.

'England has a tradition of welcoming great players from around the world and I am sure the Premiership won't regret supporting a quality player like him.'

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