Friday, 5 November 2010
United 3 Bursaspor 0 - United in cruise control
Manchester United all but assured qualification to the knockout stages of this seasons Champions league with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Turkish Champions Bursaspor on Tuesday night.
United went into the game having beaten the Turkish side by a decisive Nani strike at Old Trafford a fortnight before. United's hosts had proved a tough test in Manchester and much of the same was expected in front of a hostile crowd in Turkey.
Tuesdays visit to the Ataturk stadium gave Sir Alex Ferguson a rare chance to test the depth of his squad. The most notable inclusion in United's starting XI was gifted Frenchman Gabriel Obertan, who started in an advanced role behind Dimitar Berbatov in a new look United attack.
Ferguson's starting XI mixed youth with experience. Chris Smalling lined up alongside Nemanja Vidic instead of Rio Ferdinand, with Brazilian youngster Rafael slotting in at right back and Patrice Evra operated typically on the left side of a four man defence.
In midfield, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes and Darren Fletcher made up a trio in the centre with Obertan on the left and Nani out wide on the right, looking to add to his winner two weeks before. Edwin Van Der Sar was the preferred choice in the United goal and Dimitar Berbatov looked to reclaim his early season goal scoring, playing the lone striker role in United's attack.
Portuguese winger Nani limped off around the twenty-five minute mark with a suspected groin injury and Park Ji Sung came on to replace him shortly after. United fans will be hoping that the in-form star's spell on the sidelines it to be brief.
United tested Bursaspor on several occasions throughout the first half and Paul Scholes had a goal ruled out as he was found to handle the ball before bustling the ball past the host's keeper.
As the whistle blew for half time the game remained level at 0-0. United probed, but Bursaspor had proved resilient in their defensive duties - for 45 minutes, anyway.
Just after the break Darren Fletcher powered home a low shot across the Bursaspor to give United a deserved lead. From the right hand side of the area Fletcher received a cushioned pass from Carrick and struck low and true into the far bottom corner across the helpless keeper. 1-0
From just outside the area, Gabriel Obertan lashed a powerful strike past the keeper and into the roof of the net. 2-0
Scorer of United's first goal, Darren Fletcher exited the game with twenty minutes remaining and on came a raw talent, in the seemingly untested Bebe.
It didn't take the United number thirty-three long to make an impression. In the 78th minute, Bebe latched on to sublime reverse pass from Paul Scholes just inside the box and the Portuguese flyer jabbed the ball past the on-rushing keeper with his right foot. 3-0
United closed out the game with consummate ease and found themselves picking up a fairly straight forward three points, which has just about assured their progress to the last sixteen.
Anyone connected with United will be happy with the victory and will take great interest in the performances of youngsters Bebe, Obertan and Chris Smalling as well as the return to form of Michael Carrick and the continuing efforts of the long serving Park Ji Sung.
In the absence of Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Antonio Valencia and other big name absentees United continue to look a force to be reckoned with. Unbeaten so far this season, United are making their intentions this season clear.
How the players fared -
Van Der Sar - Rarely tested. A deserved clean sheet. 6
Rafael - Looked back to his best, assured on the ball and tough in the tackle. 7
Smalling - another impressive display from the young defender. Dominated at the back and distributed the ball well out of defence. Starting to look the real deal. 7
Vidic - immense at the back as always. Looked untroubled for long periods. 7
Evra - surged forward frequently but rarely picked out a decisive ball into the box. 6
Obertan - responded positively to Fergie's call and used his pace and trickery at every turn. Finished with an explosive strike and looked dangerous all game. 8
Scholes - vintage Scholes display. Distribution was excellent, especially when releasing Bebe for United's third. 7
Carrick - the England star is starting to find his form of old. Used the ball well in midfield and crafted Fletcher's crucial opener.
Fletcher - lashed home United's first and supplied the wings all night. Limped off late on. 7
Nani - Starting positively and looked to terrorise once more, but the in-form star limped off less than half an hour into the game with a groin injury. 6
Berbatov - Looked a shadow of the player that started the season so brightly as the Bulgarian grew frustrated with himself and the players around him. Doesn't always suit the lone striker role and was found isolated and univolved for long periods. 5
Park (Nani) - Came on for Nani less than half an hour into the game and continued to show why Ferguson repays so much faith in the Korean. An energetic and efficient Park display as standard and an assist (Obertan) to his name . 7
Bebe (Fletcher) - adjusted to the tempo of the game quickly and poked home his first United goal soon after coming on. The young Portuguese winger is starting to look like a worthwhile gamble. 7
Fabio (Evra) - Didn't get much of a run out by worked the left hand side well as United closed out he game. 6