McLeish laments United strength

Alex McLeish said Rangers FC were "far too bold" after losing 3-0 to a "top, top side" at Old Trafford.

By Jonathan Caswell in Manchester

Manchester United FC's Matchday 2 defeat at VfB Stuttgart became a distant memory as they claimed their second consecutive victory against British rivals Rangers FC.

Comprehensive triumph
The two sides had never met competitively before this tournament, but United followed their narrow win in Glasgow with a comprehensive triumph at Old Trafford that leaves them within sight of the last 16. Rangers were always in trouble after Diego Forlán's early volleyed goal, and Ruud van Nistelrooij's two strikes either side of half-time ensured Alex McLeish's team were left five points adrift of Stuttgart and United in Group E.

'Too bold'
Rangers manager McLeish said that Forlán's opener was a severe blow: "We were far too bold and we did not keep tight. It was a magnificent strike by Forlán, it is the kind of inspiration you are looking for particularly at the start of a game and it left us a mile behind. We were well beaten by a top, top side - we failed to take our chances at Ibrox and United took theirs."

One point away
United are now unbeaten at Old Trafford in 15 Champions League matches, and need only a draw at Panathinaikos FC on Matchday 5 to reach the last 16 and move closer to an eighth consecutive quarter-final appearance on a night when Rangers must win in Stuttgart to retain any hopes of progress in this competition.

'Key players missing'
However, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was quick to console McLeish, his former charge at Aberdeen FC. "Unfortunately Rangers were missing some key players like [Ronald] De Boer and [Fernando] Ricksen and so they lacked experience," Sir Alex said. "They now need to beat Stuttgart, it is as simple as that. We need to get a point in Greece and I think we can do that. We want to win the group, Rangers do not need to worry about Manchester United's attitude, but if they do it in Stuttgart they will go through."

'Bad start'
Rangers defender Henning Berg - who won the 1998/99 Champions League with United - knows it will be tough in Germany. He told "We made a bad start and that has now made it so much harder. We beat Stuttgart at home, but it will not be easy. We did not play as we can and we are disappointed with that, we certainly expected to play better."

'Marvellous' Van Nistelrooij
Van Nistelrooij will be delighted to have recaptured his form of last season, when he scored a record 12 Champions League goals. He may have needed a rebound late in the first half to open his account, but Sir Alex said: "Strikers expect to score rebounds, there is nothing wrong with scoring a scrappy goal, I have scored a few myself. It helped his confidence and you saw a change in his game in the second half, he was marvellous."

Best to come
As for Forlán, who got United's party started, team-mate Gary Neville said: "He is playing fantastically, he will always cause defenders problems and he is so willing. The best of him has yet to be seen."