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United go joint top with Oţelul win

Manchester United FC 2-0 FC Oţelul Galaţi
Sir Alex Ferguson's side moved level on points with SL Benfica at the top of Group C thanks to Antonio Valencia's early strike and a late own goal.

Antonio Valencia (right) celebrates with Nani after his goal on eight minutes
Antonio Valencia (right) celebrates with Nani after his goal on eight minutes ©Getty Images

Manchester United FC moved level on points with SL Benfica at the Group C summit with a 2-0 home victory against FC Oţelul Galaţi.

Antonio Valencia's early strike and a late Cristian Sârghi own goal ensured that United completed back-to-back wins against the Romanian UEFA Champions League newcomers and edged closer to reaching the knockout stage for the sixth year running. Oţelul's already faint last-16 hopes vanished altogether with this result.

It was an industrious performance by a United side looking to "redeem ourselves", in Sir Alex Ferguson's words, for their 6-1 loss to Manchester City FC on their last Old Trafford outing. One intriguing feature from the outset was the manager's selection of Wayne Rooney in a deep midfield role. Sitting alongside Anderson in a 4-4-2, he sought to spray passes around like a quarter-back and one such ball to Dimitar Berbatov sparked the move for the opening goal.

Phil Jones, on a surge upfield from his right-back berth, collected the Bulgarian's lay-off and fired over a deflected low cross that flicked off Michael Owen at the near post and provided an easy tap-in for Valencia. Sadly that was the last involvement for Owen, making his first UEFA Champions League start in 23 months, who limped off three minutes later with a thigh injury.

Oţelul might have had an immediate equaliser but Marius Pena was off target with a glancing header from Cornel Râpă's cross. That was about it in terms of goalmouth incident for much of the half, despite the best efforts of United's full-backs. Fabio excited the crowd with one dash from his own half and then it was Jones's turn, the teenager cutting in from the right, exchanging passes with Valencia and firing in a shot that flew behind off the head of Sârghi.

Oţelul skipper Sergiu Costin caught the eye with some well-timed challenges and Dorinel Munteanu's charges might have equalised when Ionuţ Neagu capitalised on a moment of uncertainty in the United defence, only for his shot to deflect off Rio Ferdinand and force a save out of David de Gea.

United managed only one shot on target despite 70% of first-half possession but stepped up a gear after the restart with Berbatov foiled by Branko Grahovac within minutes. Anderson then poked a shot past Grahovac but Costin got back to clear, while Berbatov hit the side netting when clean through.

Oţelul's small band of supporters kept singing even after Rooney's shot from distance deflected off Sârghi and left Grahovac completely wrong-footed.