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Manchester United triumphed 2-0 over Romanian side Otelul, in what was a controversial and close fought encounter for the English champions, with both sides finishing with ten players apiece.
Having not recorded a victory in their opening two group games, there was a certain level of pressure on United to secure the three points at the Bucharest National Stadium, and while they may have enjoyed having a superior support than the home side, many of United’s foreign stars will not have enjoyed the freezing temperatures they had to endure.
The first half started fairly uneventfully, with both sides feeling each other out and cautious not to make any mistakes. There were few chances of note to speak of, and United striker Wayne Rooney often found himself marked out of the game by a proficient Otelul defence. The visitors best chance of the half came close to the end, with Nani cutting back the ball for the waiting Michael Carrick, but the midfielder was wasteful, blazing the ball over the bar.
The game exploded into life in the second half however, and by the 64th minute, United had the lead they were craving. The referee awarded a penalty after Rooney’s cross was judged to have been handled by Otelul captain Sergiu Costin, and the England international had no difficulties firing the ball into the back of the net, sending goalkeeper Branko Grahovac the wrong way in the process.
United’s joy soon turned bitter-sweet however, when centre-back Nemanja Vidic, returning from injury, was sent off for an unneeded and clumsy challenge on Gabriel Giurgiu, leaving his side with the unenviable task of holding on to their lead with just ten men and over twenty minutes left to play.
With Otelul pushing hard for an equaliser, any potential United blushes seemed to be saved when Milan Perendija was given a second booking, therefore reducing the home side to ten men aswell, effectively killing off any chance of an Otelul comeback.
Rooney then went on to add another penalty in the dying minutes, a result of a trip from Liviu Antal on the striker, and in the process, became the highest scoring Englishman in Champions League history.
United now sit two points behind Benfica in second place in the group, but will have taken confidence from this victory, and will look to upset Benfica in the coming weeks as they attempt to finish the group strongly and head into the knockout rounds with the easier draw that finishing top of the group promises.
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