Manchester United FC 5-2 Maccabi Haifa
Former European champions Manchester United FC survived a shock early goal by UEFA Champions League debutants Maccabi Haifa to run out 5-2 winners in their opening game in Group F at Old Trafford last night.
No real shock
The apprehension of the United supporters before kick-off seemed to spread to the team and it was no real shock to onlookers when the Israelis went ahead after just eight minutes.
Solskjær on target
Had United not equalised within two minutes their confidence might have been even more sorely tested. As it was a headed goal by Ryan Giggs from a cross by midfield player Philip Neville steadied the nerves of the English side. It was 35 minutes before United got their noses in front, but when they did they did it brilliantly, Ole Gunnar Solskjær finishing a sublime move with the aplomb with which Old Trafford audiences are so familiar.
Any hopes Maccabi might have had of springing any further surprises, however, evaporated within seconds of the restart of the second-half when Juan Sebastián Veron drove in following a cross from David Beckham.
Van Nistelrooij strikes
The much-criticised Argentinian, assuming his preferred position in centre stage of the United midfield, did his reputation no harm either when he picked out Ruud van Nistelrooij. Despite green shirts either side of him, the Dutchman spun a defender before hooking the ball into the net with his left foot.
At that stage it seemed a case of how many United would win by. With the hosts easing up, Maccabi reminded them that no team in this competition can afford to be complacent when, with five minutes remaining, substitute Rafi Cohen stole in behind a dozing defence to beat United's substitute goalkeeper Ricardo López.
Finally for Forlán
The United players had been doing their level best to get substitute Diego Forlán off the mark with his first competitive goal for the club but the Uruguayan had been unwilling to oblige, skying a shot and a header. But there was no way he could miss when David Beckham won a penalty in added-on time, nor did he.
With his duck now broken, he can look forward to scoring more, although doubtless now everyone will be wondering when he will score from open play.
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