Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Manchester United 2 - 1 Wolfsburg
Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick were on target as Manchester United came from behind to beat Wolfsburg 2-1 in an entertaining Champions League clash at Old Trafford.
The German champions took the lead after 56 minutes through Edin Dzeko's towering header but evergreen midfielder Giggs fired home a free-kick to pull United back on level terms just three minutes later.
Carrick curled home what proved to be the winner with 12 minutes remaining to give United two wins from two in Group B and inflict Wolfsburg's first defeat in the competition.
The Bundesliga side, making their debut in Europe's premier club competition this season, kicked off their campaign with an impressive 3-1 win over CSKA Moscow a fortnight ago, Brazilian striker Grafite completing a hat-trick with four minutes to go.
And Armin Veh's side continued where they left off in Germany, taking the game to their hosts in a rainy Manchester and making most of the early running.
Grafite and strike partner Dzeko started for the German club, with Obafemi Martins again forced to start on the bench, and early interchanges between the pair helped reinforce their reputation as a force to be reckoned with.
Certainly, United's backline appeared slightly unnerved by Wolfsburg's strong start to the game and both Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra gave the ball away cheaply within the opening 10 minutes.
Vidic's aberration, after just four minutes, allowed Zvjezdan Misimovic, Dzeko's Bosnian compatriot, the chance to shoot on goal and Tomasz Kuszczak, preferred to Ben Foster in United's goal, was forced into making his first save of the night.
As an attacking force, United struggled during the opening stages of the game, and part of the reason became clear when Dimitar Berbatov, who was overlooked in favour of Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney, started to warm up on the sidelines on the quarter-hour mark.
In front of the watching Fabio Capello, Owen had tweaked his groin and was forced off the pitch with just 20 minutes played. Enter Berbatov, and United's attacking play became noticeably sharper.
His impact was almost immediate, the Bulgarian's backheel finding Antonio Valencia, who wastefully shot wide of the mark on 25 minutes.
Wayne Rooney then found the back of the net from Berbatov's ball across the face of goal but the strike was chalked off for offside. Replays later showed Berbatov to have been onside when he received the ball.
It was not the last time United were to have a goal disallowed on the night - Giggs also had an effort ruled out for offside after the break, and again it was a contentious decision as replays showed the Welshman was played in as the ball pinged off the legs of Misimovic.
With Berbatov pulling the strings, United looked a different proposition and Carrick nearly opened the scoring after having profited from the Bulgarian's clever through pass in the 30th minute.
Berbatov himself then fired over from Giggs's back-post cross before Carrick saw a diving header saved by Benaglio.
But Wolfsburg maintained a threat of their own and Christian Gentner's header over the bar on 34 minutes served as a reminder that at 0-0 this game was still up for grabs.
But it did not stay goalless for long and as Berbatov's influence diminished Wolfsburg broke the deadlock when Dzeko leapt above Evra to direct a header past Kuszczak 11 minutes into the second half.
United hit back almost immediately, Giggs notching his 150th goal for United with a heavily deflected free-kick that wrong-footed Benaglio in the Wolfsburg goal.
The goal gave United a lift and they surged forward in search of a winner. Rooney almost found it with a sumptuous curling effort that flew inches wide of the angle of post and bar before Carrick finally did, the England midfielder sending a shot into the top corner after Berbatov and Giggs conspired to tee him up on the edge of the penalty area.
But still the visitors refused to accept defeat and when Josue lifted his head with six minutes remaining, Old Trafford hearts were firmly in mouths. But his stabbed effort bounced wide and with it went Wolfsburg's hopes of getting anything from the game.
United are now three points clear at the top of Group B with six points. Wolfsburg and CSKA Moscow have three apiece while Besiktas are bottom with none after their defeat to the Russians in the day's early game.