Manchester United FC came from behind to defeat VfL Wolfsburg 2-1 in an enthralling UEFA Champions League Group B contest at Old Trafford.
Anglo-German match-ups seldom disappoint and this was no different, with tournament newcomers Wolfsburg playing with none of the fear of some first-time visitors to this stadium and taking a lead through Edin Džeko's towering 56th-minute header. As they so often do, however, United hit back, Ryan Giggs's deflected free-kick bringing them swiftly level before Michael Carrick struck a fine winner to take Sir Alex Ferguson's men top of the group.
Some teams shrink on the Old Trafford stage and visiting coach Armin Veh admitted beforehand that he did not know if his players would be "inspired or scared". Happily it turned out to be the former as they took the game to United in the opening minutes, their positive approach almost rewarded when Nemanja Vidić's weak defensive header allowed Gratife to lay the ball back to Christian Gentner but he shot straight at Tomasz Kuszczak.
United came out mirroring Wolfsburg's 4-4-2 with Michael Owen partnering Wayne Rooney in attack, the former making his first start in the competition since November 2004 and a Real Madrid CF match in Kyiv. The pairing lasted only 20 minutes, however, before Owen made way for Dimitar Berbatov having aggravated a groin strain. To that point Veh's surprise pick in the Wolfsburg defence, Ricardo Costa, had enjoyed a relatively comfortable ride on his first start of the campaign in place of Andrea Barzagli. United's sole threat had come from a Rooney free-kick but with Berbatov's introduction that changed.
The Bulgarian fashioned United's first chance of note after 25 minutes, his cute back-heel sending Luis Valencia clear on the right but the Ecuadoran winger dragged his shot wide. Berbatov then played a defence-splitting pass for Carrick but the midfielder was foiled by Wolfsburg goalkeeper Diego Benaglio. United kept probing, with Carrick's diving header testing Benaglio, though it was not just one-way traffic, Gentner sending a header wide from a corner.
Another Wolfsburg corner provided an early scare for United after the restart, Costa volleying over the crossbar. Anderson then brought a flying save from Benaglio, but the breakthrough in this intriguing encounter came at the other end as Makoto Hasebe crossed to the far post for Džeko to power a header past Kuszczak. The visitors held the lead for only three minutes before Giggs replied with a free-kick that found its way into the bottom corner via a deflection off the defensive wall. It was his 150th United goal.
The impressive Giggs soon had the ball in the net again, firing past Benaglio after the ball deflected his way off Carrick only for the effort to be ruled out for offside. United's seemingly ageless captain was undeterred, however, combining with Berbatov to tee up Carrick who curled the winner beyond Benaglio from the edge of the box. In an exciting end-to-end finish in the Mancunian rain, Josué shot narrowly wide for Wolfsburg but the points were United's. For the visitors, just an awful lot of pride.