Manchester United began their Champions League campaign with a win over Turkish giants Galatasaray at Old Trafford, albeit a very unconvincing one.
Michael Carrick gave United the lead within seven minutes of the match, and Sir Alex’s men could – and probably should – have added to their lead, and found themselves relying on a couple of outstanding saves from David De Gea to preserve their one goal advantage, with Galatasaray hitting the wood-work twice.
And whilst Sir Alex was adamant pre-match that his side had the renewed focus and drive required to reach the latter stages of the competition, United’s first real scare came within the first 30 seconds, when Galatasaray had a strong penalty claim turned down by referee Wolfgang Stark.
Vidic brought down Bulut inside the box after the Turkish forward latched on to Patrice Evra’s misplaced pass, but despite a loud and arguably justified appeal from Gala, the referee waved play on.
United seemed to have no such concerns at the other end of the pitch though, with Van Persie, Kagawa and Nani all settling quickly into their strides. Muslera was called upon early on in the game to deny Nani, but the keeper was unable to stop Carrick netting the opener after seven minutes, following a neat build-up.
After exchanging swift passes with Van Persie and Kagawa, the England international showed great composure and skill to round the keeper and slot his effort home, despite being tripped by Muslera.
And whilst many expected United to capitalise on their early lead, it was the visitors who looked the more menacing side going forward. United were at fault for most of the opportunities that fell to Galatasaray, as they uncharacteristically gave the ball away numerous times and gifted the Turkish champions chance after chance.
A rare misplaced pass from Paul Scholes allowed the away side to break, and the hosts were more than relieved to see Nordin Amrabat’s curling strike cannon off the top of the bar.
Further chances came for the visitors, with Hamit Altintop clipping the outside of De Gea’s post with a rasping drive from a well-worked free-kick.
United’s best chance to secure the three points came after the break, after they were awarded a penalty when Rafael was sent tumbling inside the box. Nani stepped up, but the Portuguese winger’s penalty was unconvincing and was easily saved by Muslera.
And Galatasaray came close to an equaliser soon after with Selcuk Inan saw his looping header curl agonisingly wide, clipping the post with De Gea rooted to the spot.
The United keeper had sat out United’s last two games, but showed no sign of rustiness, when he made an outstanding double save from Burak Yimaz and Emre Colak, preserving his side’s slender one goal lead.
Sir Alex’s side did have chances to wrap the game up, but Javier Hernandez fluffed his lines late on with some uncharacteristic sloppy finishing.
Antonio Valencia also had strong claims for a penalty, but in the end Carrick’s goal proved to be just enough to give United the three points.
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