When I first saw the team sheet, I thought tonight boded well for a good performance with plenty of goals. In the end, United dominated the game with a possession percentage that would’ve had Pep Guardiola or Arsene Wenger purring. For all that possession, United were always vulnerable to conceding a daft goal. As it was, David De Gea made an outstanding one handed save in the penultimate minute of injury time. With another unexpected result tonight after Sporting Braga beat Galatasaray in Istanbul, it will be a very content Sir Alex Ferguson flying back to Ringway Airport tonight.
Inquest just about to commence when Pantelis Kapetanos put Cluj into an early lead
United played Otelul Galati, a Romanian side in this competition last season: one of the worst sides I’ve ever seen. Cluj, while having no chance of winning the competition were tonight a vast improvement. To my surprise (and the bookmakers’ delight), they beat Sporting Braga in Portugal a couple of weeks ago. Tonight Cluj capitalised after Senegalese winger Pape Amodou Sougou quickly realised that he was yet another winger who’s now got Patrice Evra’s number. He got goalside of Evra with an ease which is nowadays all too frequent to play a perfect cross to an unmarked Kapetanos to score on 13 minutes. Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans had decided to give us an encore of their Laurel and Hardy impression for the weekend by appearing to be completely oblivious to Kapetanos’ presence. Ten minutes later, Sougou was substituted after an accidental collision with Evra. United, who’d had almost constant possession, now had Evra free to play as an overlapping full back. Sougou’s departure took a lot of pressure off Evra.
Robin Van Persie equalises for United
Robin Van Persie scored an equaliser from a Wayne Rooney free kick on thirty minutes with an attempted glancing header which bounced off his shoulder over a disbelieving Mário Felgueiras’ head. The goal was lucky but for all the possession and sometimes suicidal attacking intent United played with, it was well deserved. Four minutes into the second half, Robin Van Persie scored what turned out to be the winner for United with a beautiful flick over an oncoming and flapping Cluj goalkeeper. It was a classic goalkeeper’s mistake; if he’d stayed on his line, he probably would’ve saved it. Apart from the last minute save from David De Gea, United cruised well for the rest of the game. Ferdinand got a daft booking, Anderson had an OK match and Scott Wooton, who came on for Jonny Evans, became the first player involved in a direct transfer between United and Liverpool since Phil Chisnall in 1963 to take to the field.
Robin Van Persie celebrates his brilliant winning goal with his provider Wayne Rooney and Tom Cleverley
United fans were in the usual good voice for a Euro away. With this season’s final taking place at Wembley, there were plenty of songs from United fans about being On the way to Wembley and the old Doris Day classic Que Sera Sera also geting an airing. This time last season I didn’t think United had a prayer of winning the European Cup. This year I don’t feel any differently but having seen a spectacularly average Chelsea side win the trophy last May, I’d rule nothing out.
Andy Jamo, get well soon mate