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Manchester United FC match-winner Michael Carrick said the 2-1 comeback victory over VfL Wolfsburg on Wednesday night underlined the seemingly impenetrable self-belief running through Sir Alex Ferguson's squad.
If rain is a Mancunian cliché then so too are late United goals and both were on show at Old Trafford where Carrick hit a fine 78th-minute winner after Ryan Giggs's deflected free-kick had cancelled out Edin Džeko's 56th-minute header for the German champions. Carrick's strike continued a recurring theme for United this term – coming a minute later than the Paul Scholes effort which earned a Matchday 1 win at Beşiktaş JK, it was the ninth time they have scored in the last quarter-hour of a match. Moreover, of their 23 goals in all competitions, it was their 18th in the second half.
'Belief and confidence'
So how do they keep doing it? Carrick said: "We've been scoring second-half goals of late and it is nice to finish strongly like we have been doing. Fair credit to the boys, they are showing a lot of character. It is the belief and confidence we have in each other to go and win football matches. We have been successful over the years and that gives you a lot of confidence. We just have to be patient, we have been doing that and it has been paying off." United's success carried them three points clear of Wolfsburg and PFC CSKA Moskva at the top of Group B and midfielder Carrick added: "It was important to build on what we got in Turkey and we managed to do that tonight."
Key to the comeback was captain Giggs's equaliser just three minutes after Wolfsburg had taken the lead. It was the 150th goal in United colours for the evergreen Welshman, whose free-kick took a big deviation off Christian Gentner in the defensive wall. Giggs conceded there was a "little bit of luck", but added: "I'm proud to have scored that amount of goals, but it was more important that we got back in the game so soon after they went ahead. If we hadn't got back into the game so quickly it might have been tough."
An adventurous Wolfsburg side sought to trade blows with their hosts on what was their first trip to England and they actually had slightly more possession with 51 per cent to United's 49. "We knew before the game they have very good players and the two centre-forwards are a handful and that proved so tonight," said Giggs, who played a pivotal role in ensuring United carried out their manager's half-time instruction to "improve in the final third". The English titleholders had twice as many shots on target in the second period and the 35-year-old Giggs was instrumental in their winning goal, collecting a pass from the influential Dimitar Berbatov and teeing up Carrick who placed his shot firmly past Diego Benaglio. With six points, United – who visit CSKA next – are now strongly placed to progress and Giggs added: "Hopefully we can wrap it up as quickly as possible."
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