Manchester United FC scraped a 2-1 victory over Juventus FC in their UEFA Champions League Group D encounter at Old Trafford. Goals from Wes Brown and Ruud van Nistelrooij secured victory for the hosts, although Pavel Nedved's injury-time strike gave Sir Alex Ferguson's side a late scare.
The build-up to the game had been dominated by the travails of Juventus coach Marcello Lippi, whose squad was depleted by a 'flu virus. With star player Alessandro Del Piero out with a thigh injury, the loss of seven players to 'flu caused Juventus to appeal for a postponement, which was turned down.
Bad to worse
Things went from bad to worse for Juventus when Antonio Conte was injured in the pre-match warm-up. His place was taken by Uruguayan striker Marcelo Zalayeta, leaving Lippi with only five substitutes to choose from.
The Juventus coach must have feared the worst when United scored after only four minutes. Looking sharp from kick-off, the hosts won an early corner. Beckham took it quickly, launching the ball to the far post, and there Wes Brown met the ball with a firm downward header to score his first goal for the club.
However, the tide soon began to turn, as United became sloppy in their passing and allowed the visitors to dominate possession. Roy Keane, in particular, was conspicuous by his absence from the heart of things.
Zalayeta was making the most of his surprise start, causing Gary Neville real trouble on the United right. However, it was the lively Pavel Nedved who went closest to scoring, striking the outside of the post on 21 minutes.
Five minutes later, Zalayeta latched on to a chipped pass by Mauro Camoranesi, only to head straight at Fabien Barthez. Yet it was his strike partner David Trezeguet who spurned the better chance, shooting too early after latching on to Nicky Butt's slack pass.
Alessio Tacchinardi was booked for dissent before half-time - ruling him out for the return fixture next Tuesday - as Juventus frantically appealed for a handball in the area by Mikaël Silvestre. After the break, Juventus continued to threaten an equaliser, with Mauro Camoranesi and Nedved causing continuous problems down the flanks.
Yet it was United who went closest to scoring, when Van Nistelrooij went down after going clean through against the goalkeeper. The ball broke to Paul Scholes, who smashed the ball against a post.
The game looked over on 85 minutes, when Beckham broke forward before floating an excellent pass through to Van Nistelrooij. The Dutch international striker looped the ball over Antonio Chimenti and in.
Nedved then caused a final flurry by cutting in from the left wing to shoot low into the bottom corner. Juventus bustled forward but their poor away record continued and they now have only one win on their travels in 21 games.