During Sir Alex Ferguson's years as manager of Manchester United the club were mainstays in the latter stages of the Champions League, even winning it twice - in 1999 and 2008. The club's supporters have followed them through many European cities, but on this day in 2004 they had one of their toughest trips of all - to Rome to take on Roma in the first leg of the quarter-finals.
On the pitch it was not a great deal better for United. The Red Devils were not expected to be troubled too much by the side from the Italian capital, but they found things a lot tougher than they would have hoped. It was a strong United lineup that included Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs, but the home threat was clear: Daniele De Rossi and Francesco Totti.
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The atmosphere was heated and this made its way on to the pitch in what was a feisty game of football. The Italian side, second in their league, wanted to prove that Serie A was not a dwindling European force and they stopped United playing their pacey wing game from the start. Paul Scholes in particular was looking frustrated and his early booking meant that he had to tread thin ice for the rest of the game.
Scholes's career was an illustrious one, marred only by his tendency to mistime tackles. His booking for a lunge on Christian Wilhelmsson was his third late tackle of the night and just eight minutes later the referee Herbert Fandel dismissed the Englishman for what was only minimal contact on Totti. However, Scholes had set the precedent earlier with his poor tackling, so it was no real surprise. He had let the 77,000-strong den at the Stadio Olimpico get to him, which made his side's chances that much harder.
Another 10 minutes passed and just as United were looking to be able to regroup at the break still level, Roma took the lead. The Italians won the ball in midfield and broke through Mancini down the right. His cross was a good one and Rodrigo Taddei opened the scoring via a deflection off Wes Brown. United were rattled from Scholes's sending-off and were now behind, but in the crowd worse was to happen.
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During the half-time break, footage was seen in the away section of the United fans retaliating to home supporters who had thrown themselves into the segregation wall. They perhaps should not have responded, but what followed was several away supporters being beaten by the Roman police, who piled down after the United fans had taken offence to their treatment. Several were even hit after falling over trying to retreat.
Back on the pitch and Roma started the second half as they finished the first. Taddei forced Edwin van der Sar into a good stop as he tried to make it two on the night for him, while Totti shot just over from the edge of the box. Amazingly, however, despite being second-best for most of the game, United equalised on the hour with a vital away goal. Ronaldo drove down the flank before finding the restored Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He crossed for Rooney, who controlled it on his chest before lashing a high finish into the roof of the net. The game was on.
Ronaldo then tested Doni a few minutes later as suddenly the home goalkeeper was the busier of the two. Roma then went back ahead on 66 minutes, with Van der Sar not at his most convincing. Mancini's shot was parried out and back into danger by the Dutch goalkeeper and substitute Mirko Vucinic slid in the rebound for the lead again. Totti might have made it more convincing, but he flashed a shot wide as Roma edged out United.
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Losing 2-1 with an away goal scored was far from the worst possible result on the night, and in fact United had got away with it somewhat having played much of the game with 10 men. In the return leg they more than got their revenge, of course, with a thumping 7-1 win at Old Trafford. It is just a shame that the thrilling football played over two legs was marred by the violence in the stands of Stadio Olimpico on this day.