An opportunist Paul Scholes header 13 minutes from time was enough to give Manchester United FC a winning start to UEFA Champions League Group B at Beşiktaş JK.
Beşiktaş beat Liverpool FC here in the 2007/08 group stage and made life tough for last season's runners-up throughout. But as time ebbed away and with the home side looking on course to earn what would have been a valuable point, Scholes pounced to head in a Nani shot that had been parried by home goalkeeper Hakan Arıkan. It kicks off a campaign United hope will end in the third consecutive final in Madrid next May.
From the off the Beşiktaş fans produced their traditional cacophony of noise and with Mert Nobre and Filip Hološko deployed up front by Mustafa Denizli, they poured forward in the first ten minutes. However United, fielding Nani and competition debutant Antonio Valencia on the flanks, soon found their feet and Michael Carrick's long-range shot was tipped over by Hakan, given his chance by Rüştü Reçber's ear problem.
In Saturday's 3-0 derby defeat at Galatasaray AŞ, Serdar Özkan had gone close three times for Beşiktaş and he did so again with a shot from 20 metres out that was just deflected off target. He tried again just before the interval from similar distance, but this time the ball flew wide without assistance.
Early in the second half Carrick so nearly took advantage of some confusion between Matteo Ferrari and Hakan, but the goalkeeper was able to stop the volley from the off-balance midfielder. The sides were rather cancelling each other out at this stage, and both teams made a change around the hour mark; first Beşiktaş withdrew the lively Serdar Özkan for the creative Yusuf Şimşek and a few minutes later Sir Alex Ferguson brought both Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov on to form a conventional front two.
Valencia was United's main threat from the right flank and twice forced Hakan into action. But with 13 minutes left Nani got around İbrahim Kaş and Hakan could only parry his shot into the path of Scholes, who gratefully headed in the loose ball for his 22nd UEFA Champions League goal in 109 appearances. Hološko came close to a reply but after he was sent clear, his shot was intercepted by Jonny Evans. That was that for Beşiktaş and they will now aim to kick-start their campaign in a fortnight when they visit PFC CSKA Moskva, themselves beaten 3-1 tonight by United's Matchday 2 visitors, VfL Wolfsburg.