Otelul Galati were the visitors to Old Trafford for the return of the group C Champions League fixture from a fortnight ago. Having dispatched the Romanian champions in rather unconvincing fashion in Bucharest, United were looking for a more emphatic result, on the back of some below par performances. With the group still largely in the balance, Fergie again opted for a strong line up, with the main talking point the selection of Wayne Rooney in the centre of midfield along side Anderson. Rio Ferdinand returned due to the suspension of Nemanja Vidic, keen to banish the demons of his previous outing for United.
United got off to a fast start, pinning back the visitors who were keen, but unable to impress on a once in a lifetime trip to Old Trafford. A superb piece of link up play between Berbatov and Rooney freed up Phil Jones down the right, whose cross evaded Michael Owen, but not Antonio Valencia who tapped home at the far post to give United the perfect start. However, despite what seemed like the perfect platform for a convincing win, United failed to capitalise on the momentum as Galati successfully stifled Rooney and co. The reds appeared surprised by the Romanian side’s willingness to press high up the pitch and prevent Ferdinand and Evans from bringing the ball out of defence comfortably to initiate attacks. 1-0 was a fair reflection on the game at half time, with United having had 63% of the ball, but ultimately Galati keeper Grahovac had been relatively untroubled.
An expected revival in the second half never really game to fruition for United, as once again Galati proved a tough nut to crack. A rare moment of quality between Berbatov and Anderson saw the latter’s effort well cleared off the line by a despairing Galati defender, however opportunities were few and far between for the reds. Anderson in particular was having an evening to forget, completely abandoning his early season form for a careless and lazy performance, constantly failing to provide telling quality. Although United were never really tested defensively, a night which should have been comfortably became tense in the latter stages of the game, as the Romanian side began to sniff an opportunity of a famous result. Any hope however was dispelled with stoppage time looming, as Rooney, the only real positive from a poor United performance, had his shot cruelly deflected past the despairing Grahovac to seal an important, if not forgettable 3 points. With Benfica and Basel drawing, United go to the top of the table for the first time in the competition, and hope to stay there with the possible nightmare draw when finishing second a must avoid.
De Gea – 6 One fantastic save. Distribution impressive.
Jones – 7 Great assist for the first goal, defended well.
Ferdinand – 6 Quiet evening.
Evans – 5 Wrecklessly booked, had little to do.
Fabio – 6 Maurauded well down the left and remained injury free!
Valencia – 6 Took his goal well but failed to get the better of Galati left back.
Rooney – 8 MOTM Very accomplished performance in midfield.
Anderson – 3 Possibly lowest point in his United career. Hauled off for Park.
Nani – 4 Frustrating and careless.
Owen – Injured after 10 minutes.
Berbatov – 5 Failed to kick on from good performance last week.
Park – 6 Immediately brought improvement.
Hernandez – 5 Struggled to make an impact.
Fryers – Brief cameo.