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If there was something workmanlike about Manchester United FC's victory over Bursaspor, the same could not be said for their winning goal, scored after seven minutes by Nani.
The Portugal winger cut infield from the right before beating goalkeeper Dimitar Ivankov with a spectacular left-foot shot from 25 metres and, not surprisingly, he was delighted with his decisive contribution. "A beautiful goal" is how Nani described it to UEFA.com, adding: "I tried to hit the corner of the goal and the ball went in. I was so happy. The game wasn't very hard; we had a couple of opportunities to get more goals but we didn't score. But the team did well because they had no opportunities to score and we are defending well, we have more chances to win games."
Sir Alex Ferguson had asked his United players to "tighten up" after conceding nine goals in their last five Premier League games so a third clean sheet in as many Group C outings will have provided some satisfaction. Defender Chris Smalling, brought in alongside Nemanja Vidić in place of Rio Ferdinand, said: "At a club like this people don't make many mistakes and I don't think you'll see too many of those from now on."
In truth, United were rarely tested by opponents whose first shot on target arrived in the last minute, when Gustav Svensson forced a save from Tomasz Kuszczak. The only disappointment was that they failed to add a second goal, going closest through substitutes Gabriel Obertan and Javier Hernández near the end. Smalling added: "I felt when we got that first goal early on we might get another two or three. Chicharito [Hernández] had a great chance at the end but it wasn't to be. We kept probing and had a lot of possession and probably feel we should have worked their goalkeeper more but three points is crucial at this stage. The late win in Valencia [on Matchday 2] helped us and now we are looking in a really good position."
United's win left them two points clear of Rangers at the Group C summit ahead of their 2 November visit to Turkey – some good news amid the storm of Wayne Rooney's sought-after departure. Smalling insisted that the question of the absent Rooney's future had not been a distraction. "To be honest none of us have really talked about anything like that," he said. "The morale and the camaraderie have been great; everybody's been focused on tonight."
Bursaspor's defeat meant Ertuğrul Sağlam's men are stuck to the bottom of the section, still seeking their first points. Their Argentinian midfielder Federico Insúa admitted the tournament newcomers had "lacked penetration". He added: "Teams like this don't give you any breaks and if you concede a goal it makes life very difficult. We had a plan to counterattack, to try to take advantage of the moments they lost the ball but when you concede after seven minutes it is difficult. There have been three games. Unfortunately we haven't scored a goal yet or got a single point but there are still nine to play for and we're going to do the best we can."
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