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Anderson helps United keep Valencia at bay

Manchester United FC 1-1 Valencia CF
Anderson cancelled out Pablo Hernández's opener to ensure United finished on top of Group C ahead of their visitors to Old Trafford.

Anderson helps United keep Valencia at bay
Anderson helps United keep Valencia at bay ©UEFA.com

It was mission accomplished for Manchester United FC as Anderson's second-half strike earned them the point required to finish top of Group C.

Valencia CF, who like United, were already assured a last-16 place, overtook United for a short while at the summit after Pablo Hernández's 32nd-minute opener. However, United's deserved equaliser fulfilled Sir Alex Ferguson's pre-match wish to "avoid some of the big guns" in the draw on Friday week.

Both teams featured surprises in their lineups with Sir Alex giving a UEFA Champions League debut to goalkeeper Ben Amos while Valencia coach Unai Emery made seven changes from their last Liga outing, handing first starts in the tournament to goalkeeper Vicente Guaita and centre-back Ángel Dealbert. Despite the sub-zero temperature, there would be little risk of Guaita, in particular, getting cold.

Anderson had the first opportunity to test Guaita on the quarter-hour when an exchange of passes with Wayne Rooney sent him clear down the inside-right channel but he side-footed the ball tamely at the keeper. Anderson's next contribution was to play Dimitar Berbatov clean through but the Bulgarian, who hit five goals in United's last home game, lost the battle of wits with Guaita, who then blocked a spectacular Park Ji-Sung volley. Two minutes later, United fell behind to the first goal they have conceded in this season's competition.

The lively Alejandro Domínguez, who had already threatened with a couple of shots, was the instigator. When Michael Carrick was robbed of the ball by the Argentinian, he ran at Nemanja Vidić before slipping the ball into the path of Hernández, breaking to his right, who finished low through the legs of Amos. Rooney tried to respond but was denied by the crossbar when he curled a shot beyond Guaita, and Nani sent the rebound bobbling wide.

United laid siege to Valencia's goal after the restart. Berbatov went close with a hat-trick of headers, Rooney drove in a couple of shots and eventually, after 62 minutes, Guaita's luck ran out. Rafael broke forward and fed Park who fired in a shot that Guaita got a palm to, Anderson following up to score his first goal since September 2009.

There was almost a second soon after as Guaita saved Berbatov's low shot and Nani blazed the rebound over. By this stage Valencia had lost Domínguez with an apparent hamstring injury, though they had several chances too, notably when Aritz Aduriz drove a shot straight at Amos from inside the box but a draw was the right result.

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