Football: Overseas round-up - Ronaldo raring to go against United

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RONALDO YESTERDAY warned Manchester United that he is ready and waiting to face them in their European Cup quarter-final second leg on Wednesday.

The twice World Player of the Year has been troubled by tendinitis problems all season but made his first start for Internazionale in two months in the 2-2 draw with city rivals Milan on Saturday night.

"I may not have the match rhythm back yet, but I'm ready to give everything to beat Manchester," said the Brazilian yesterday, who played just the first half of the derby. "Last night's game wasn't a test. It was a real match. It was difficult but I did my duty. I'm pleased with my performance, I'm gradually getting better and I don't feel any pain any more.

"The team are playing well at the moment and we're creating a lot of chances. We're also preparing very carefully for the match against Manchester, who are a great side, and are very quick on the break.

"I'm hoping to play for the whole match. It will be difficult to do so, but I'm not ruling it out. I'm certain I can go out there and do my job well. I'm convinced that the rest of the team are going to do the same. They are very, very motivated.

"This is going to be the most important match of our season. Our pride is at stake and we must show that we are up to the mark. I'm sure both sides will have chances to score, and also that it will be a great game - possibly with a lot of goals. We have to accept they might score - we've conceded goals in all of our recent games.

"My presence alone won't be enough - we all have to do better because they won't be frightened, not of me, or of any other player."

Yesterday Serie A leaders Lazio blew the chance to open a commanding lead when they were held to a goalless draw by bottom club Empoli. But the Rome club still stretched their lead to five points over Milan, Parma and Fiorentina.

Fiorentina wasted their chance to cut Lazio's lead by crashing 4-1 at Venezia, Uruguayan Alvaro Recoba hitting his first hat-trick for the club. Parma beat Bari 2-1 while Juventus, a further seven points adrift in fifth place, beat Udinese 2-1.

Piacenza, Vicenza and Salernitana kept alive their hopes of staying in the top flight with victories over Cagliari (1-0), Perugia (3-0) and Sampdoria (2-0).

Nantes moved nearer to winning the French Cup for the first time in 20 years with a 3-1 victory at Metz to reach the quarter-finals. They are the only first division team left in the competition. In the league, Monaco, chasing a place in next year's Champions' League, were held 1-1 at lowly Sochaux.