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Vicente Guaita is unlikely to forget his first UEFA Champions League start. Although Valencia CF ultimately failed to prise top spot in Group C from Manchester United FC, the 1-1 draw they earned was down in no small part to the efforts of the visitors' third-choice goalkeeper who belied his inexperience with a display described as "marvellous" by home manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Guaita – deputising for the injured César Sánchez and Miguel Ángel Moyà – made a series of important stops, first when denying Dimitar Berbatov in an early one-on-one, then stopping Park Ji-Sung's spectacular volley moments before Pablo Hernández's 32nd-minute opener for Valencia. That his attempted parry from a later Park strike led to Anderson's 62nd-minute equaliser did not diminish the plaudits heading the way of the 23-year-old, whose only previous outing in the competition had come when replacing the injured Moyà during the Matchday 5 win against Bursaspor.
Valencia coach Unai Emery said: "
We had to take a gamble on Vicente Guaita but he confirmed just how far he has developed in his position." Guaita himself was modest about his contribution, telling UEFA.com: "My job is to make the saves and for the other players, or at least the forwards and midfielders, it is to score. The whole team did well to come away from here with a point and, although that leaves us second in the group, at least we're through."
Valencia's showing at a freezing Old Trafford should boost the Spanish side's confidence ahead of the round of 16, added Guaita, whose own assurance is on the rise. "I've had a few games now and am feeling more confident so there weren't any nerves," said the keeper, who until November had made just one career Liga appearance. "It was a great experience at a stadium where everyone wants to play. It's been a good day, we got the draw – it's a shame given we had the lead, but we got a point and worked hard to earn it."
Nani, one of United's brighter performers, saluted Valencia for their neat possession football after the away team, who started with leading scorer Roberto Soldado on the bench, became the first to find the net against the Premier League side in the group stage – Hernández beating United's own young custodian Ben Amos. Defender Nemanja Vidić preferred to focus on the significance of claiming first place. "
We wanted to keep the clean sheet to break the record, but the important thing is we finished where we wanted: first in the group. Hopefully now we will avoid some big teams, which helps."
The only downside for Vidić was United's profligacy. They had hit seven goals in their previous home outing against Blackburn Rovers FC but managed only one from 18 goal attempts, eight of them on target. If their defensive strength bodes well, they will want to be more clinical in the knockout stage after a nervy finale here. "We have to be pleased with how many chances we made but on the other hand we didn't take them," the centre-back said. "In the end it was a bit nervous because after so many chances we had and didn't score, we had to make sure we didn't concede in the last ten minutes."
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