Louis Saha was quick to deflect the praise on to his Manchester United FC colleagues after ensuring that Ruud van Nistelrooij was not missed with a two-goal salvo in the 3-2 victory over Celtic FC last night.
Man of the match
The France forward had not scored in six previous UEFA Champions League outings for United but found the net twice in an exciting first half at Old Trafford, which ended with the sides tied at 2-2. Substitute Ole Gunnar Solskjær struck the winner shortly after the break - latching on to the rebound after a Saha shot was saved - but it was Saha who earned the man of the match award, although speaking to uefa.com afterwards he highlighted the team effort that had yielded this opening Group F success.
No extra motivation
"It was a very good three points and we needed that because in Europe you have to win at home. They made a good start and we had to work to get back into the game. It was a good performance as a team. Celtic have very good players and it was a difficult first home game but we reacted well after we conceded [an opener to Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink]." Denying that Van Nistelrooij's summer departure had increased the responsibility on his shoulders, Saha added: "My motivation is always the same and nothing has changed for me - I just try to work hard all the time. I am happy because we are playing well. Anyone can score goals in this team so I wouldn't say I am the main man."
Van Nistelrooij may have left for Real Madrid CF with the record of United's top scorer in Europe, but Saha - now installed as Sir Alex Ferguson's first-choice striker - showed his class with his two goals, the first a 30th-minute penalty and the second a low finish ten minutes later after Paul Scholes had put him through. Saha was a constant threat to the Celtic defence and could easily have got four or five. "It's good, especially when I see how many chances I had today," added the 28-year-old. "I have to thank Wayne [Rooney], he let me take the penalty."
'He was fantastic'
An €18.5m signing from Fulham FC in January 2004, Saha struggled for a long time with injuries but since returning to the United side last November he has recorded an impressive 19 goals in 35 appearances. "He could have beaten the goalscoring record in Europe," said his manager Sir Alex Ferguson after last night's game. "He was fantastic. The key thing is he stays fit, he's had a terrible time with injuries."
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