United survive Galatasaray scare to claim win
Wednesday, 19 September 2012
Manchester United 1-0 Galatasaray AŞ
Michael Carrick's early goal – his first since January – sealed the points at Old Trafford, but Sir Alex Ferguson's side had to hold on against spirited visitors.
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Michael Carrick's early goal gave Manchester United FC a winning start to their Group H campaign but they had to work hard to overcome a spirited Galatasaray AŞ side at Old Trafford.
Carrick's seventh-minute goal, his first in the UEFA Champions League for three years, proved the difference on a night when Nani had a second-half penalty saved and two Galatasaray shots came back off the woodwork. It was an intriguing contest and not the comfortable victory that Carrick's opener promised.
Fernando Muslera had already foiled Nani after he wriggled through but he could not stop Carrick when he broke clear following a one-two with Shinji Kagawa. The midfielder sidestepped Muslera neatly and despite stumbling after being caught by the goalkeeper, kept his composure to roll the ball into the net.
It was not the start Fatih Terim wanted and it got worse when the in-form Umut Bulut left the action, replaced by Johan Elmander. Yet the Galatasaray fans bunched into the East Stand kept up their noisy chorus and Nordin Amrabat very nearly gave them a goal to celebrate, cutting inside from the left and curling a shot onto the crossbar.
Old Trafford has not been the fortress of old in recent European campaigns – United had won three of their last nine home group fixtures prior to this game – and Sir Alex Ferguson had called on his team to be less "careless". Yet United did not look wholly assured and Galatasaray nearly profited.
Just after the half-hour, Hamit Altıntop played in Emmanuel Eboué on the right of the box but his shot was deflected behind. Altıntop himself went close with half-time approaching. From the byline, Selçuk İnan played a free-kick back to him on the edge of the area and the midfielder rolled a low drive against the side of the post.
The second half began with a United spot kick as Rafael went down under a Burak Yılmaz challenge but Muslera was equal to Nani's attempted conversion. The Portuguese paused as he ran up and when he did strike, Muslera dived to his right to save.
It was hard to guess who would score next. For United, Nemanja Vidić threatened with a header, Patrice Evra shot across goal and substitute Javier Hernández twice missed with just Muslera to beat. Yet Galatasary had their own close shaves. Selçuk's header narrowly evaded the far post from Altıntop's cross while, from a quick counter, Burak and Emre Çolak were foiled by David de Gea. As it was, Carrick's goal was enough.