| 2.6°C Dublin

Beckham: Milan were San zeros in front of goal

AC Milan midfielder David Beckham was left to rue a hatful of missed chances after Manchester United triumphed 3-2 in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie at the San Siro last night.

The England international, playing against his former club for the first time since leaving them seven years ago, set up Ronaldinho for the opening goal in the third minute but the Rossoneri were unable to build on their lead in a first half they dominated.

Ronaldinho, Alexandre Pato and Klaas Jan Huntelaar were all guilty of missing chances in the first 45 minutes as United were forced on to the back foot, defending en masse to halt a buoyant and hungry Milan.

Wayne Rooney cut a lonely figure in the United attack, often being the only Red Devil in the opposition half as Milan laid siege to Edwin van der Sar's goal.

"If, in the first half, we had scored the goals when we had the chances, then it would have been a different game," said Beckham.

"But we didn't and Manchester United are a very good team and Wayne Rooney is a very good player."

A fortunate goal from Paul Scholes brought United level before the interval and a brace from Rooney in the second half put the Red Devils in command of the last-16 tie until Clarence Seedorf struck late on to leave Milan still in with a chance, according to Beckham.

"Clarence's second goal has made it possible," he said.

"It's not easy to go to Old Trafford but we have made it a bit better for ourselves. If we had come off the field having lost 3-1, then we would have been more disappointed."

Like Beckham, Milan coach Leonardo refused to throw in the towel.

"It is not over here," he said.

"We can win 2-0 in Manchester and that would be a normal result.

"Today was the demonstration that when we played football like we can we really put Manchester in a lot of difficulty. The first half could have ended 3-0 and we were very unfortunate to concede a fluke goal."

Leonardo admitted his side were unable to recover from the shock of Scholes' equaliser, both mentally and physically.

"It was inevitable that we would not be able to keep up the same rhythm in the second half," said the Brazilian.

"Unfortunately, we were unable to finish everything in the first half.

"I don't want to find any excuses for the defeat, but a team cannot impose themselves on the game for the whole 90 minutes against a physically strong team like Manchester."