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United 2 Otelul Galati 0: No Romanian Horror At Old Trafford

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Manchester United moved to the top of Group C with two games left to play after overcoming a determined effort by Otelul Galati at Old Trafford. It was by no means a perfect performance but was one good enough to do the job and keep a clean sheet to boot.

Sir Alex Ferguson sprung one surprise before kick-off opting to play Wayne Rooney in a central midfield position alongside Anderson. It was a selection that some United fans had been hoping for and United’s no. 10 did not disappoint showing exactly why he’s more than just a natural finisher up top, as he put in the kind of display that will do the team no harm.

Rooney had a helping hand in United’s opener, which came after only eight minutes. A great through ball found Dimitar Berbatov on the right wing. The silky Bulgarian played the ball off to Phil Jones rampaging forward who took the ball away from one defender before whipping the ball into the area. A smart run by Michael Owen took the attention of three Galati players leaving time and space for Antonio Valencia to tap home his second goal of the season.

Sadly for Owen it was to prove to be his last contribution of the night as in stretching for Jones’ cross he appeared to have injured himself and went off three minutes after United’s opener being replaced by Javier Hernandez. It was a cruel blow for the former-England forward who as Sir Alex has been saying countless of times this season has been looking to prove himself to go off injured so soon into a game. But that’s football for you sadly, it’s not always nice.

Fabio was looking in fine form and a long run by the Brazilian almost presented United with a second but after beating several Galati defenders, the full-back’s cut back to Berbatov was just out of the Bulgarian’s reach and was hacked away to safety. Galati after conceding as expected tried to make life difficult and it was working as United only had one other opportunity of note in the first half when Jones saw a goal-bound effort blocked by Galati’s Sergiu Costin.

Galati though almost surprised everyone including their own fans moments before half-time when David De Gea was forced into keeping out Ionut Neagu’s strike which took a tricky deflection of Rio Ferdinand who was skippering United on the night. It was a fairly easy save for the Spaniard who looked far from happy with Anderson whose misplaced pass had allowed the Galati midfielder the chance to have a crack on goal.

After the restart a bright move involving Jones, Berbatov and Hernandez looked to have opened Galati up but Costin got back to thwart United and the chance was gone. Galati much to the joy of their manager Dorinel Munteanu were now looking more of a threat going forward and their midfield and frontline were seeing more of the ball. De Gea and his defence though were doing just about enough to break down the Romanian side’s attack which at best looked predictable.

Down the other end Costin was in the thick of the action again doing well to clear an Anderson shot off the line. Berbatov then narrowly poked a shot wide after intercepting a loose throw-in by Cornel Rapa. United were not to be denied a second and three minutes from time it arrived. Good play by Nani allowed substitute Park Ji-Sung time and space to find Rooney 25 yards from goal and his drive deflected in off Cristian Sarghi giving poor Branko Grahovac no chance.

With the game wrapped up Ezekiel Fryers came on for his European debut in the closing stages. It had by no means been a classic performance but with Benfica drawing at home to Basel, it sets the group up nicely for United who now know that a win over the Portuguese side at Old Trafford in a fortnight will see them through to the Last 16 where of course the competitions really kicks into gear.

United: De Gea, Fabio, Evans (Fryers), Ferdinand, Jones, Valencia, Rooney, Anderson (Park), Nani, Berbatov, Owen (Hernandez)

Star Man

On a night where United due to scoring early, never really got out of second gear, one man in particular held his hand up firmly as the team’s best player on the night. The performance of Wayne Rooney in central midfield was an added bonus. He was everywhere and aside from setting up attacks, worked hard to win the ball back making sure Galati could only dream of picking up a point.

By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87