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Van Persie digs United out of a hole at CFR

Published: Tuesday 2 October 2012, 23.16CET
CFR 1907 Cluj 1-2 Manchester United FC
Robin van Persie scored his first European goals for Manchester United as the visitors came from behind to take pole position in Group H.
by Paul-Daniel Zaharia
from Stadionul Dr. Constantin Rădulescu

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Published: Tuesday 2 October 2012, 23.16CET

Van Persie digs United out of a hole at CFR

CFR 1907 Cluj 1-2 Manchester United FC
Robin van Persie scored his first European goals for Manchester United as the visitors came from behind to take pole position in Group H.

Behind to CFR 1907 Cluj inside 15 minutes, Manchester United FC bounced back to record their 100th UEFA Champions League victory thanks to two typically deadly finishes from Robin van Persie.

Both sides had begun Group H with wins and the hosts took an early step in the right direction against United with a Pantelis Kapetanos goal on 14 minutes. Wayne Rooney set up Van Persie to level close to the half-hour mark, however, and the same combination provided what proved the decisive goal four minutes into the second period to leave the Romanian team wondering what might have been.

United had triumphed in all four previous meetings with Romanian clubs, scoring nine goals and conceding only one, yet CFR were to offer a stern examination, particularly in the initial exchanges. Ioan Andone's men looked to threaten on the counterattack, and the tactic – allied to some fine defending – quickly paid dividends.

Rafael Bastos had been CFR's match winner at SC Braga and, despite the close attentions of Darren Fletcher, again showed his quality by launching the move from which the Cluj-Napoca outfit took the lead. The Brazilian's perfect long pass picked out Modou Sougou on the right and his low cross was touched in by Kapetanos.

As befits a side of United's European experience, however, the visitors refused to panic. Rooney's shot brought a decent stop from Mário Felgueiras five minutes later, before Van Persie shot narrowly wide.

United duly drew level moments later, Van Persie – who could return to Bucharest in a fortnight for the Netherlands' FIFA World Cup qualifier – meeting Rooney's free-kick with a mix of head and shoulder. The Dutchman was then denied by Felgueiras as United pressed for another before the break, yet they had little time to wait once the second half kicked off.

Within four minutes, another Rooney centre found Van Persie with the time and space in the penalty area to beat Felgueiras. That meant CFR were forced to commit to attack and the more adventurous approach almost paid immediate dividends, David de Gea making a remarkable stop to keep out Cadú's header.

Despite an injury to Sougou, CFR continued to press yet the pairing of Rooney and Van Persie ensured United were a constant threat on the counterattack. There would be one last chance for the home side, Rafael rising to connect with a cross in added time, but De Gea make sure United would depart with the points – leaving CFR with only pride to show for their considerable efforts.

Last updated: 25/09/14 4.31CET

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