Ronaldo scarred but still ready for stepovers

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The metaphorical hangover belonged to Roma after Tuesday night's defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford. The Italian club was pitched into two tricky matches against Sporting Lisbon for the probable right to accompany Manchester United into the knock-out stages of the Champions League. The physical hangover belonged to Cristiano Ronaldo, courtesy of a stray elbow from Mirko Vucinic.

Four stitches were inserted above his left eyebrow but this did not prevent him sparing half-an-hour from his busy schedule to promote the first book of what will doubtless be an extensive career as a ghosted author.

To the disappointment of the television crews and photographers, Ronaldo refused to remove a baseball cap and large pair of sunglasses that masked his bruised brow and scarred flesh. He did, though, reassure those fans likely to buy his picture-orientated book "It is OK. In four or five days I will be beautiful again."

Well, that is a relief.

To the chagrin of the fourth estate, which had already been instructed not to ask Ronaldo about Jose Mourinho, his private life, or "general football questions", he then responded to the query: "Do you think the elbow was intentional?" with a curt "No", adding, "These things happen in football."

BBC Radio Five Live enquired how his relationship with Wayne Rooney had developed in the light of the 2006 World Cup when Ronaldo was blamed for Rooney's dismissal, and celebrated his departure with that notorious wink. "It is in the book – read the book" said Ronaldo. "That doesn't make great radio, can you talk about it?" pleaded Juliet Ferrington, the reporter, hiding her exasperation well.

One began to sympathise with all those full-backs who fail to pin Ronaldo down.

Eventually, the Portuguese was persuaded to open, if not a window on to his soul, at least a crack in the "read the book" carapace.

Of his future he said: "Only God knows the future but I am happy to stay here. This is a fantastic club, I leave only when the club say 'I don't want you any more'."

Of the rough treatment he has received from defenders this season he insisted: "It will never intimidate me, never stop me from displaying my skill. My boss [Sir Alex Ferguson] does a great job in trying to protect me. He says everything. I would rather not talk about it."

He was more effusive on the subject of United's potential this season. Despite stacking up the victories this has been only hinted at so far, not least on Tuesday when Roma should have taken a point.

"We have four great new players in Owen Hargreaves, Anderson, Nani and Carlos Tevez," he said. "This gives us more opportunities to win and more permutations, not just in the Champions League but also the Premier League and FA Cup. We have a good chance to win each competition.

"The Champions League is my dream this season. It was hard to lose against Milan when we were one step from the final. But from losing we learn a lot, a few important things. This season the team is more strong, more consistent and more mature. Everyone is ready."

United have certainly begun their campaign impressively in terms of results, moving three points clear in Group F. They will now look to take at least four points from back-to-back matches against Dynamo Kiev, who sit pointless at the bottom of the group. That should all but secure their progress into the group stages. They have also kept two clean sheets despite the absence in both games played of Gary Neville, Owen Hargreaves and Mikaël Silvestre, and, on Tuesday, Edwin van der Sar and Wes Brown.

Goalscoring is proving more of a problem but at least the main protagonists – Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez, Nani and Louis Saha – have all opened their accounts, easing a pressure forwards always feel.

Rooney was the last to do so. When he finally scored, on Tuesday, Ronaldo was among the first to congratulate him. As he at length told the world yesterday, "My relationship with him is great. After this [the sending-off incident] I am more mature. I learn a lot."

Moments. By Cristiano Ronaldo (Macmillan, £18.99)

Group F

Results: Roma 2 Dynamo Kiev 0; Sporting Lisbon 0 Manchester Utd 1; Dynamo Kiev 1 Sporting Lisbon 2; Manchester Utd 1 Roma 0.

Remaining fixtures: 23 Oct: Dynamo Kiev v Manchester Utd; Roma v Sporting. 7 Nov: Manchester Utd v Dynamo Kiev; Sporting v Roma. 27 Nov: Dynamo Kiev v Roma; Manchester Utd v Sporting. 12 Dec: Roma v Manchester Utd; Sporting v Dynamo Kiev.

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