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United have too much for La Real

Manchester United FC 1-0 Real Sociedad de Fútbol
Iňigo Martínez's second-minute own goal proved the difference, enabling the Premier League side to pull a point clear at the top of Group A.

United have too much for La Real
United have too much for La Real ©UEFA.com

Manchester United FC put their indifferent domestic form behind them as they went top of Group A with a comfortable 1-0 success over Real Sociedad de Fútbol.

Iňigo Martínez's early own goal was the difference between the teams and secured a second UEFA Champions League home victory for a United side who had failed to win their last two Old Trafford outings in the Premier League. The result is that United moved a point clear at the Group A summit, their tally of seven points in stark contrast to the Basque club's none.

This was a night for plenty of noise at Old Trafford, with a trial singing section in place, and the home supporters had something to shout about after two minutes. The goal came after Carlos Vela lost the ball to Patrice Evra on United's left and Wayne Rooney took over, taking out a couple of defenders on a jinking run into the box and then curling a shot against the far post. Martínez got to the rebound ahead of Javier Hernández – starting in place of the absent Robin van Persie – but could only divert the ball clumsily into his own net.

For a Real Sociedad outfit lacking European experience it was the worst possible opening and for the next half-hour United kept them pinned back, with man of the match Rooney to the fore. The England forward drew a low save from Claudio Bravo with a volley while Hernández was flagged offside after heading in Ryan Giggs's dinked cross. Giggs rolled back the years with one swaying run cut short by a foul – not bad for a player four years older, at 39, than visiting coach Jagoba Arrasate.

After half an hour the 6,000 La Real fans up in the East Stand had a glimmer of hope as Haris Seferovic forced a tip-over save from David de Gea. The San Sebastian team went even closer two minutes before half-time when Antoine Griezmann curved an excellent left-foot free-kick over the United wall and against the upright.

La Real maintained their improvement after the restart, flashing a couple of dangerous balls across the United goal and striking the goalframe a second time when Alberto de la Bella's cross-shot nearly caught out De Gea.

Yet as the game opened up, United began finding gaps in the visitors' defence. Phil Jones had a header beaten away by Bravo, then Rooney slipped the ball through to Antonio Valencia down the right but he fired against the far post. United came again and Shinji Kagawa looked certain to score only for Carlos Martínez's brilliant block to deny him. Rooney and substitute Ashley Young threatened too but United had the points.

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