Romanian relief for United
Wayne Rooney converted a pair of second-half penalties and Nemanja Vidic was sent off as Manchester United beat Otelul Galati 2-0.
Last Updated: 18/10/11 10:59pm
Wayne Rooney converted a pair of second-half penalties to secure Manchester United a first UEFA Champions League group win which was soured by Nemanja Vidic's sending off in the 2-0 success over Otelul Galati.
United struggled to impose themselves in Bucharest and were indebted to Rooney's composure from the spot either side of Vidic's red card for a needless tackle on Gabriel Giurgiu as the forward became the leading English scorer in the Champions League.
The first half was distinctly lacking in tempo and clear-cut chances, although Michael Carrick should have done much better just before half-time when blazing Nani's cut-back over the bar.
Galati appeared to adopt a more physical approach after half-time and United were continuing to struggle to create openings until being gifted a penalty on 64 minutes.
Rooney broke free down the left and, when his cross was blatantly cut out by the hand of Galati captain Sergiu Costin, the United striker sent keeper Branko Grahovac the wrong way from the penalty spot.
But just three minutes later last season's beaten finalists created problems for themselves when skipper Vidic was shown a straight red card for a mid-air challenge on Giurgiu.
Substitute Marius Pena and Bratislav Punosevac were both narrowly off target as Galati tried to up the pressure, but their hopes were extinguished when Milan Perendija was sent off for a second bookable offence after pulling back Javier Hernandez.
Nani then hit the post with a long-range effort before Rooney earned, and scored, a second penalty for United after being tripped by Liviu Antal.
The result now puts the Red Devils in a strong position to qualify for the last 16 ahead of the return meeting with Galati at Old Trafford in a fortnight's time.
After tossing away a two-goal lead against Basel at Old Trafford three weeks ago, United could not afford to take this game lightly as Sir Alex Ferguson might have expected when the draw was made.
It was not a surprise that Ferguson made nine changes from the team that drew at Liverpool on Saturday. But if anything, this one was stronger, with Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Vidic amongst those returning.
However, if the Red Devils chief had expected the wasteful ways to be eradicated, he was sadly wrong.
Time and again United squandered possession under little pressure.
At one stage, the normally dependable Vidic was guilty of simply passing the ball to a member of the opposition side close to his own area.
Punosevac immediately drilled an effort towards goal which Anders Lindegaard gathered and the United keeper was culpable minutes later when he smacked a clearance straight into Vidic.
The Dane was fortunate Punosevac was moving in the opposite direction to the one the ball rebounded into, otherwise the Galati striker would have tapped into an empty net.
Without a point so far and their own president suggesting avoiding embarrassment was their only target, Otelul visibly grew in confidence and Antal came closest to breaking the deadlock a minute before the break when he guided a close range header over.
It all must have come as a massive disappointment for Ferguson. Clearly the technically superior team and enjoying an overwhelming advantage in possession, United did little with it.
Rooney did not get into the contest for half an hour, by which time Patrice Evra had embarked on a forceful burst to draw a decent save out of Grahovac.
Like their hosts, United's clearest opening in the opening period came in its death throes as Nani rolled a pass into Carrick's path. It was an inviting opportunity that the midfielder wasted by blazing over, typifying much of his side's overall sloppiness.
For the first 15 minutes of the second half it would not be unfair to say nothing happened, except for a string of yellow cards, two for fouls on Nani.
It all livened up on the hour though, starting with a low Nani cross to Rooney, whose shot on the turn bounced narrowly wide.
The pair combined on United's next attack too, this time to provide Rooney with space from which to pick out Hernandez. Costin instinctively stuck out an arm to prevent the cross reaching the Mexican.
Costin was fortunate not to be sent off. Instead, the spot-kick proved to be United's only reward as Rooney sent Grahavac the wrong way.
Once in front, it was hard to see how the visitors could not win.
Within minutes Otelul were back in it though after German referee Felix Brych decided there was an element of danger about Vidic's challenge on Giurgiu and promptly sent the Serbian off.
Vidic was stunned and Ferguson reacted by introducing Jonny Evans and Phil Jones to repel a growing wave of home attacks.
Pena headed over, then Punosevac's shot on the turn almost crept in.Their hopes were ended by the dismissal of Perendija for a second bookable offence two minutes from time, after which Rooney struck again finding the same corner as previously after he had been tripped by Antal.
|Otelul Galati||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||6|
|6||Shots off Target||4|