Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed the 7-1 victory over Roma as the club's greatest European evening at Old Trafford. The win gave United an 8-3 aggregate win and sent them into the Champions League semi-finals.
|Ronaldo, left, and Smith played their part in an incredible display (Photo: BBC)|
And Ferguson said: "It was a fantastic performance by every one of our players. The speed of our play and our penetration was absolutely superb.
"That's absolutely the best night of European football we've had here."
United had lost 2-1 to Roma in the first leg last week then fallen to a shock defeat at Portsmouth in the Premiership on Saturday.
But they bounced back in style here as Cristiano Ronaldo and Michael Carrick both scored twice and Alan Smith, Wayne Rooney and Patrice Evra also found the net.
"We never expected to win 7-1 but the quality of our game was so high," said Ferguson.
"The fact that three English teams are in the semis probably makes our league the best in Europe.
"Six or seven years ago Spanish football was the best. But on the evidence of this season Barcelona and Real Madrid are not as near to where they were in previous years, while the competitive nature and the quality of the English game has improved over the seasons."
And Ronaldo insisted the result was no surprise, saying: "Every player is very confident, they have a lot of belief in themselves.
"Everyone still believed we would get through tonight, but it is an unbelievable result.
"To win 7-1 against Roma in a quarter-final is just great. It is amazing for the players and the club, but now we need to think about the semi-final."
"I really have no preference who we get now."
Fellow goalscorer Carrick added: "To start so well and carve up the chances and score the goals we did was a great feeling. To carry it on for the full game was the stuff of dreams."
Ferguson was delighted for Smith, who has battled to recover from a serious leg break sustained in February 2006.
Smith was starting his first European game since December 2005 and had not scored since November of the same year.
"He deserved it more than anyone," added Ferguson. "He has been patient and trained like a beast."
Roma coach Luciano Spalletti was left stunned by his side's collapse.
"It's difficult to explain what happened, especially because the team played well in the first 10 minutes," said Spalletti.
"Then the first time they attacked, they scored. We failed to respond to their enthusiasm and our inexperience cost us dearly against their counter-attacks."