Scholes silences Besiktas
Manchester United started their quest to regain the Champions League with a battling 1-0 win over Besiktas.
Last Updated: 15/09/09 10:02pm
Manchester United started their quest to regain the UEFA Champions League with a battling 1-0 win over Besiktas in a noisy Inonu Stadium in Istanbul.
Paul Scholes, who was sent off in Saturday's 3-1 win at Tottenham Hotspur, atoned for that blot on his copybook by heading home the only goal of the game 13 minutes from time.
Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic had half chances during the opening 45 minutes, while United keeper Ben Foster had a nervous moment when Serdar Ozkan's deflected shot dipped over the crossbar.
Michael Carrick was unable to take advantage of hesitancy in the Besiktas defence in the opening minute of the second half as United struggled to make the breakthrough.
Foster saved comfortably from Rodrigo Tabata, and Antonio Valencia flashed a low drive across the face of goal, before the 2008 winners broke the deadlock on 77 minutes.
Nani's fierce shot was beaten away by Besiktas keeper Hakan Arikan only as far as Scholes, who kept his cool to guide his header inside the post and ensure a winning start to United's Group B campaign.
It was just the right way to start atoning for that dismal performance against Barcelona in Rome last May, and it might have been even more only for substitute Michael Owen to toe-poke a close-range chance just wide.
Not that United had it all their own way. Foster is proving to be a reliable performer as Edwin van der Sar's deputy, although he did have to survive one major scare.
Foster set himself to save Ozkan's shot, only for the ball to flick off Jonny Evans and cannon skywards. The United keeper could only turn and hope, knowing he was powerless to do anything about it.
Thankfully, the ball dropped just the wrong side of the crossbar for Besiktas' fans, who cranked up the volume to maximum just before kick-off and kept it there until half-time.
Not that United were affected. Indeed, they coped in fine style, content to knock the ball around and wait for openings to come.
The problem was, they did not. Adopting an attitude of which Vidic would have approved, the Turks buffeted their opponents when they had to - as Rooney and Nani would testify - and always remained solid.
On his Champions League debut Valencia got past Ibrahim Uzulmez on a couple of occasions, without being able to deliver a decent cross, while a neat back-heel from Nani released Patrice Evra inside the penalty area.
He skipped onto Nani's well-executed pass with relish and drove a low cross to the near post, but Carrick was not in the greatest of positions and turned it meekly wide.
At the start of the second half, a brilliant cross from Nani caused havoc in the Besiktas area and when Matteo Ferrari failed to clear, Carrick only needed a good bounce to threaten.
Unfortunately for the England man, he didn't get it and instead could only knee the ball goalwards, where it was scooped up by Arikan.
As the home side, Besiktas had an obvious incentive to keep pressing forward and if Scholes had not stepped in to make one of his well-timed tackles, Ozkan might have been presented with a clear sight of goal.
Instead, it was Rodrigo Tabata who let fly, although Foster, producing another solid display, made a comfortable save.
The introduction of Dimitar Berbatov and Owen, who was making his first Champions League appearance for four-and-a-half years, meant the departures of Carrick and Rooney, who did not look impressed as he walked off.
Yet, disappointed as he was, Rooney is too much of a team man not to celebrate when United score.
Nani deserved all the credit for a blistering shot that Arikan saved but could not hold.
Not for the first time in his long career, Scholes was on hand to finish off the rebound.
|Besiktas||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|1||Shots on Target||5|
|5||Shots off Target||10|