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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bursaspor 0 Manchester United 3: Turkish delight for United as Darren Fletcher strike sets up Champions League stroll



Opener: Darren Fletcher puts United ahead in Turkey

This has not been Manchester United’s most glamorous or eventful Champions League campaign but Sir Alex Ferguson will not complain about its effectiveness.

The United manager wishes for only one thing when his team begin their assault on the group stages of the competition each year and that is that they reach the 10-point mark as quickly as possible.

Despite the peculiarity of an opening goalless draw with Rangers, United have subsequently been methodical in beating Valencia once, and Bursaspor twice.

And last night’s win in Turkey took United to within a point of the next stage with two games to spare. Last night’s win — secured by second- half goals from Darren Fletcher, Gabriel Obertan and substitute Bebe — was typical of United’s tournament so far.

They were far from their best but they were easily good enough against a Turkish team who have been lamentable in losing all four games in the group.

Ferguson will have been delighted as he began the long haul home from Turkey in the early hours of this morning. This is a season that, for all the fuss over the Wayne Rooney contract saga, continues to steadily improve.

What will have concerned him, though, are injuries to Fletcher’s ankle and Nani’s groin that forced off both players. With a derby looming, Ferguson can do without worries over two key players.

Match-winners: Darren Fletcher and Gabriel Obertan scored in Turkey

Nani, a surprise inclusion given the importance of forthcoming fixtures, only lasted 28 minutes. The Portuguese forward appeared to tweak his groin and gave way to Ji-sung Park.

Fletcher stayed on the field long enough to give United the lead just after half-time before going over on his left ankle. With no Bursaspor player near him, it was an innocuous incident but one that could prove costly.

With midfielders Ryan Giggs, Antonio Valencia and Owen Hargreaves on the sick and injured list, Ferguson will hope that the influential Scot recovers for next Wednesday’s meeting with City at Eastlands, if not in time for Saturday’s Barclays Premier League visit of Wolves.

Ferguson said: ‘The injuries are the disappointing part of the night for us as we dealt with the game well and deserved to win.

Injury scare: Nani limped off in the first half

‘I don’t think either will be able to play at the weekend. We will have Darron Gibson back so that could help us.’

United supporters have certainly had easier trips to watch their team in Europe. It was estimated that about 400 fans had made the trip, that involved a four hour flight to Istanbul and a 90-minute ferry to Bursa.

There was, however, no reason for them to think before kick-off that their journey would be wasted. A glance at the Group C table made for pleasant reading. Just as they have been in the Premier League, United have been somewhat less than fluent in this, their favourite competition.

Nevertheless, single-goal victories against last night’s opposition at Old Trafford and against Valencia in Spain had gone a long way to make good the mistakes of the opening draw with Rangers.

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With the Premier League so hotly contested these days, it is as important as ever to qualify for the February phase of the Champions League as early as possible in order to concentrate on domestic matters throughout the hard months of November, December and January.

In the first half, United were not terribly impressive and they could have conceded their first goal of the competition in the 30 minutes it took them to really find their feet.

There were some early moments of promise, though, as Dimitar Berbatov brought saves from home goalkeeper Dimitar Ivankov with a header and a first time shot with his right foot from outside the penalty.

However, Paul Scholes was fortunate not to concede a penalty early on as clipped the ankles of Sercan Yildirim and United were definitely lucky not to fall behind soon after when the Turkish forward played Turgay Bahadir clear only for the Bursaspor number 22 to shoot hesitantly against Van der Sar’s shoulder.

Breathe easy: Gabriel Obertan hits United's second

Van der Sar was also called upon to field a long range shot from Volkan Sen on the half hour but by now United were beginning to find their way in to the game and - though Scholes’ goal in the 38th minute was ruled out for handball - they were comfortably the better team in the second period.

The three goals they went on to score were all impressive in their own way. An aggressive run by Obertan paved the way for the first as Berbatov picked up possession on the left side of the penalty area.

Although the move threatened to break down after a heavy touch from Park, Michael Carrick then retrieved the ball and fed Fletcher on the right.

The Scot’s angled shot across the goalkeeper was true and found the far corner. With the excitable home crowd largely silenced by this, United were halfway there by now.

Briefly Bursaspor rallied but once Van der Sar had saved from Federico Insua in front of his face Park was able to break and feed Obertan and the young Frenchman’s first United goal came courtesy of a true right foot shot from the edge of the penalty box.

By now Bursaspor - without a goal in the competition - were suffering. Their defence - suspect throughout - lost all shape as time wore on and ten minutes from time Scholes played Bebe through and his young team mate eased the ball wide of the goalkeeper and inside the post with the outside of his right foot.

source :dailymail