Rangers FC 0-1 Manchester United FC Phil Neville's fifth-minute goal proves decisive at Ibrox.
By Alex O'Henley at Ibrox
A goal by Phil Neville gave Sir Alex Ferguson a record 50th UEFA Champions League win as Manchester United FC beat Rangers FC in Group E at Ibrox.
Ferguson was making an emotional return to the club he played for in the late 1960s, now managed by one of his former players at Aberdeen FC, Alex McLeish. It was billed as the clash of the British champions, but in the end United had to cling on to their slender lead as Rangers launched wave after wave of attacks.
United got off to a fantastic start with a goal as early as the fifth minute. Ruud van Nistelrooij picked out a run from Phil Neville midway inside the Rangers half and the midfield player evaded a couple of half-hearted tackles on the edge of the box, kept his balance and shot low past Stefan Klos in the Rangers goal.
The early strike settled the Premiership champions and silenced the 52,000-strong Ibrox crowd. Van Nistelrooij and Ryan Giggs were linking well for United up front and the Welsh international winger squandered a good opportunity in the eighth minute.
There were loud appeals for a Rangers penalty in the 14th minute when Paolo Vanoli appeared to be tripped in the United box - but the Swedish referee, Anders Frisk, waved away the claims. Peter Lovenkrands threatened again minutes later when he picked up a clever ball from Mikel Arteta - but his well-struck shot went straight into the arms of the United goalkeeper, Tim Howard.
The duo combined moments later but this time Lovenkrands wasted the opportunity by blazing his shot high over the bar. Vanoli was the next to squander a good chance for the home side in the 27th minute. United failed to clear their lines from a corner and despite having the goal at his mercy, the Italian failed to hit the target from six metres out.
With half-time approaching, Lovenkrands launched a left-foot shot from 30 metres and Howard had to be alert to tip it over the bar. From the corner United broke downfield and, had Giggs been more accurate with his final pass, Van Nistelrooij would have been through on goal, but Michael Ball intercepted to clear the danger.
United should have gone further ahead right on half-time. A Giggs corner was met by Mikaël Silvestre in front of goal but Arteta cleared his header off the line.
The second half started with Rangers pushing United back without creating any clear-cut chances. United were proving dangerous on the break and Van Nistelrooij should have done better in the 52nd minute. A slide-rule pass from Paul Scholes found the Dutch international in a good position but his mis-hit shot went wide of Klos's left-hand post.
Rangers should have equalised four minutes later. A last-ditch tackle by Rio Ferdinand blocked a shot from Lovenkrands and from the resulting corner the winger headed straight at Howard.
The last 15 minutes were tense for United as they tried to protect their lead against a barrage of Rangers attacks. Lovenkrands had another good chance in the final minutes, drifting in from the left past Gary Neville - but his shot went just wide of Howard's left-hand post. It was a tale of missed chances for the home side and United will be relieved to have left Ibrox with all three points.