United edge friendly clash
By Alex Dunn
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Manchester United beat a European XI 4-3 in an entertaining game at Old Trafford.
Manchester United's illustrious friendly against a European XI ended in a 4-3 victory for Sir Alex Ferguson's side in a game that raised £1.25million for charity.
The game was organised to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome and Manchester United's first involvement in European competition and while tackles were few and far between, there was plenty for the near sell-out crowd to admire.
United's greater cohesion was always likely to see them in the ascendancy and so it proved as the home side quickly raced into a two goal advantage when first Wayne Rooney matched Paul Scholes' fine pass with a clever finish and then Wes Brown became the most unlikely of goalscorers, as he slid in at the far post to convert after Ryan Giggs had bamboozled Gennaro Gattuso.
With Cristiano Ronaldo beginning to demonstrate his full repertoire of tricks, United looked to run riot only for Europe, captained by Henrik Larsson on his farewell to United, to score a fine goal on the counter-attack thanks to Florent Malouda's scorching drive from distance.
It was Ronaldo, though, that scored the night's most memorable goal when he gave Valencia's Santiago Canizares not a prayer with a fine swerving free-kick that restored United's two-goal advantage.
Before David Beckham was given a rapturous reception at half time, when he came onto the field he once graced, Internazionale's' Zlatan Ibrahimovic had time to rattle United's bar from the penalty spot, while Rooney grabbed his second.
At the interval both sides made a plethora of changes, Andy Cole came on for United, and the arrival of a quartet of Liverpool players brought a crescendo of good natured booing.
Bolton's El-Hadji Diouf pulled Europe back into the contest with a header and then with the most outlandish of penalties, but it was United that held on for a win on a night enjoyed by all that attended.