Dimitar Berbatov struck two second-half goals as Manchester United FC moved to the Group E summit with a convincing 3-0 victory away to Aalborg BK.
If United stuttered in their UEFA Champions League opener against Villarreal CF two weeks ago they never deviated as they strolled to victory on a chilly evening in Denmark. AaB stuck by coach Bruce Rioch's promise to attack in their first-ever meeting with United but were given little opportunity as the visitors dominated. Wayne Rooney's low strike set them on their way midway through the first half before Berbatov took centre stage, scoring his first goal for the club ten minutes after the restart and securing the points eleven minutes from time.
Berbatov was one of six changes to the United side that drew with Villarreal and the Bulgarian striker could have scored within six minutes. A clearance by AaB goalkeeper Karim Zaza spun off the heel of Cristiano Ronaldo and fell invitingly into the path of the Berbatov, yet from less than eight metres out, he fired wide. That chance did not spook the hosts, who could have scored themselves four minutes later when Jeppe Curth slid on to a Thomas Enevoldsen cross and hit a low shot which cannoned off Patrice Evra for a corner. There were further concerns for United moments later when Paul Scholes was taken off on a stretcher after coming off worse in a tackle with Thomas Augustinussen. On came Ryan Giggs, bringing much-needed composure to the visitors, and it was his through-ball to Rooney on 22 minutes that brought the breakthrough, the 22-year-old driving a shot low past Zaza for his 12th goal in this competition.
The hosts suffered another setback on 35 minutes when Michael Beauchamp injured himself clearing a low Ronaldo cross. The Australian was forced off, with captain Augustinussen dropping back into central defence – not his natural habitat. Ten minutes after half-time that was plain to see as he failed to deal with a simple pass and Berbatov made no mistake, ramming a half-volley past Zaza from the edge of the box to open his account for United.
Rooney limped off on 59 minutes, and his replacement Carlos Tévez thought he had made it 3-0 soon after only for his effort to be chalked out for pushing. United did get a third 20 minutes later, though, as Berbatov acrobatically lashed in Ronaldo's cross on the half-volley. The AaB supporters had been vociferous throughout and continued even after the result was beyond doubt, something which appeared about to get worse on 85 minutes when Ronaldo burst through only to hit his resulting shot wide of the near post.