Manchester United FC kept up their average of scoring three goals per game this season in Tuesday night's UEFA Champions League victory over Olympiakos Piraeus FC at Old Trafford stadium. For Olympiakos, the maintenance of their less enviable record of never having scored a goal on English soil merely salted the wound of a defeat that keeps them bottom of Group G.
United are the only side to have beaten Olympiakos this season and in securing their second victory over the Greek side in a fortnight, they have kept up Sir Alex Ferguson's tremendous record of qualifying from the first group phase of this tournament on every occasion since 1995.
'Created a lot of chances'
After the match, Ferguson expressed his delight at his side's performance. "The first and most important thing is that we have qualified," he said. "We did not play particularly well in the first half, but we still created a lot of chances. By nature, we do manage to get a lot of late goals so we do not tend to get nervous. We were hoping something would happen and fortunately we got the goal, although I did not expect to get three."
Van Nistelrooij praised
When asked about his lone striker, Dutchman Ruud van Nistelrooij, the Scot replied with fulsome praise. "I think Van Nistelrooij is an old fashioned centre-forward and his body movement is a real handful for defenders," he said. "It was a fantastic second-half performance."
'Bitter to lose'
His opposite number, Takis Lemonis, was wholesome in his praise of his team: "I cannot say anything about the efforts of my players - they all worked very hard, but we are bitter to lose the game. We do have the ability to go on from here. For 70 minutes the performance was very good, but then we lost some pace and the goal gave United a lift. However, we needed to score the first goal if we wanted to win the game. We had some chances to score, but unfortunately, we did not manage to get the goal we needed."
United striker Van Nistelrooij, meanwhile, paid tribute to substitute Ole Gunnar Solskjær, who he said "was fantastic when he came on". Amazingly, it was the Norwegian's 50th appearance in Europe, of which 30 have come from the bench and in that time the striker has hit eight goals. Van Nistelrooij, who missed a second-half penalty before supplying the pass for Solskjær's opener, said of his own performance: "After missing the penalty, it took me a little bit of time to get going again, so it was nice to set Ole up for our first goal."