Man Utd left it until the second half to start scoring in last night’s UEFA Champions League Group C away match at Bursaspor of Turkey but, when they did score, they grabbed three goals to wrap up a 3-0 away win.
The result means United are all but certain of a place in the last 16, while Bursaspor, without a point – or even a goal – in any of their four Champions League matches thus far are sure of their fate: they cannot now qualify for the latter stages.
But it was not to be plain sailing for the World’s biggest club, as their hosts held them to a 0-0 half time scoreline, in the process troubling United’s Dutch goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar with a solid effort coming from Turgay Bahadir with just over 20 minutes on the clock.
Man Utd had started with a 4-5-1 formation headed by out-of-sorts Dimitar Berbatov, who has not scored in ten games, so it was perhaps unsurprising that a lot of possession failed to penetrate in the opening 45. Berbatov did have a couple of reasonable chances in the first half hour or so, but failed to convert them.
On the half hour mark, United fans would have been concerned to see the impressive Nani leave the field with a groin injury to be replaced by Park.
In the second half, Darren Fletcher grabbed an early nerve-settling goal for the visitors with a well taken drive following good interplay between Obertan and Carrick. The goal marked Fletcher’s 50th Champions League game for the club.
The goal, instead of opening the floodgates immediately, seemed to inspire the Turkish side to press for an equaliser. Bursaspor produced two good chances: the first fell to Ivan Ergic, who shot from inside the box; while the second to Federico Insua, who was set free inside the United box. Van der Sar, however, was able to make solid, if not incredible, saves from both efforts.
Obertan was rewarded for more fine play soon after when he grabbed the killer second goal on 73 minutes after a good ball from Park Ji Sung. Obertan smashed his shot home from just outside the box to finish Bursaspor’s hopes of getting something from the match.
Soon after, on 77 minutes, any faint flicker was truly extinguished when Tiago Bebe – only just on for Darren Fletcher – grabbed himself a goal following an excellent ball from Paul Scholes, who played in his Portuguese teammate perfectly. There was a hint fortune in the deflected finish, but Tiago Bebe looks like another good backup for Sir Alex Ferguson.
3-0 was how this match would finish, as the Turkish side had no fight left for United following the quick-fire second and third goals.
Speaking after the match, Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports:
“They’re young players and getting the experience of tonight is as important as anything, but they did perform well too,”
“They did really well, we’re very pleased with them.”
“Gabriel’s [Obertan] had a couple of injuries, but he’s only 20 and he’s developing very well. He’s much stronger now and he is a real good talent. His goal tonight showed that.”
“It’s not a bad sign (that the goals are being shared). When you think about our midfield players over the years – Scholes, Keane, Nicky Butt, Beckham, Giggs – and it’s good to get a healthy return like that from everyone.”
“Darren has got the energy and the engine to get up and down the pitch and get in positions like he did today. He usually gives a reasonable return, usually around four or five goals a season. If he can increase that, maybe double it, that’d be fantastic.”
Man Utd look set to qualify from Group C, and will for certain if they get a point or better from their next match with Rangers, who lost 3-0 to Valencia last night.
- Darren Fletcher, Manchester United (48)
- Gabriel Obertan, Manchester United (73)
- Tiago Bebe, Manchester United (78)
Bursaspor Starting Lineup
07 Insua (Nunez 75)
10 Sen (Odabasi 81)
09 Yildirim (Ipek 75)
Man Utd Starting Lineup
01 Van der Sar
03 Evra (Fabio Da Silva 80)
21 Rafael Da Silva
17 Nani (Park Ji-Sung 29)
24 Fletcher (Tiago Bebe 62)
Man Utd Substitutes
20 Fabio Da Silva
13 Park Ji-Sung
33 Tiago Bebe