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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Manchester United Vs. Celtic Match Report

Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney were on target again as United outclassed Celtic to stay in control of Champions League Group E.

In a game predictably billed as the ‘Battle of Britain’, the Scottish champions were overran by a dominant Red Army at Old Trafford.

Berbatov produced poacher’s finishes in each half to put United in command before Rooney continued his prolific October scoring streak with an excellent strike from the edge of the box.

The hoardes of travelling Celtic fans had little to cheer about as United cruised to victory, recording another clean sheet to make it eight games without defeat in all competitions.

The Reds’ starting line-up had produced two major talking points. Cristiano Ronaldo was named in the side, despite suggestions that he would be rested, while Rio Ferdinand was replaced by Jonny Evans after apparently picking up an 11th-hour injury.

Ronaldo had the game's first chance but blasted over from 20 yards after neat interplay involving Berbatov, Gary Neville and Anderson. Soon after Rooney’s spectacular bicycle kick from Nani's cross hit Mark Wilson on the six-yard line.

Celtic had early moments of their own, with Edwin van der Sar twice called into action to save a low Aiden McGeady shot and Gary Caldwell's vicious dipping volley.

But United always looked the more likely to open the scoring and, like the last time these sides met at Old Trafford, the home side’s opener came on the half-hour. Nani swung in a corner from the left and, at the second attempt, John O’Shea stabbed the ball forward for Berbatov to flick home on the turn from three yards.

United’s forward line were full of running, movement and one-touch passing, harrying Celtic’s defence into rushed clearances and desperate blocks.

Darren Fletcher had a glorious opportunity to double United’s advantage on the stroke of half-time but fired over from eight yards after controlling Rooney’s cross.

But it didn’t take long after the break for Berbatov to score his – and United’s – second goal with another predatory finish.

Anderson was fouled by Scott Brown 25 yards out, Artur Boruc could only parry Ronaldo’s resulting free-kick and Berbatov was left with the simple task of slotting home the rebound.

It was the Bulgarian’s third goal in two games and fourth in two Champions League outings. And to think that people were doubting him a month ago.

Rooney thought he’d got on the scoresheet soon after but was flagged offside as he ran onto Fletcher’s neat slide-rule pass.

Berbatov looked disappointed when he was called off on the hour mark but the two-goal forward left the field to a standing ovation, with Neville also replaced by Wes Brown.

Berbatov’s replacement Carlos Tevez flashed narrowly wide minutes later but United soon had a third as Gordon Strachan's men were opened up again. The move started with Van der Sar’s throw to Fletcher, who sprayed the ball out wide to Tevez. The Argentinian’s simple ball across goal allowed Rooney to control, make room for himself and sidefoot his fourth goal in four games from 18 yards.

Not even the most staunch of Celtic fans could deny the goal was deserved. It confirmed United’s superiority in an enjoyable game and, with Villarreal hammering Aalborg, kept the holders top of Group E on goal difference.

Team line-ups

MANCHESTER UNITED: Van der Sar; Neville (Brown 60), Vidic, Evans, O'Shea; Ronaldo (Park 82), Anderson, Fletcher, Nani; Berbatov (Tevez 60), Rooney.
Subs not used: Kuszczak, Giggs, Rafael, Gibson.

CELTIC: Boruc; Wilson, Loovens, Caldwell, McManus, Naylor; Nakamura (Hartley 62), S Brown, Robson (Maloney 62), McGeady; McDonald (Sheridan 76).
Subs not used: Brown, Hinkel, Donati, O'Dea.
Bookings: Loovens.

Attendance: 74,655

Manchester United Vs. Celtic Highlights Video Clip

Manchester United [3 - 0] Celtic
30' [1 - 0] D. Berbatov
51' [2 - 0] D. Berbatov
77' [3 - 0] W. Rooney