United marched into the last 16 of the Champions League as emphatic group winners, thanks to Michael Owen's second hat-trick on German soil.
The Reds’ number seven, previously the nemesis of Germany's national team with England, grabbed three goals to destroy Wolfsburg and cap a fine rearguard action by an unfamiliar looking line-up. A header from Nani’s cross just before the break, a late tap-in from Gabriel Obertan’s low centre and an unstoppable solo surge in injury time gave Owen a triple to remember as he continues to build hero status at United.
The 3-1 victory was surely better than most fans had dared dream of when the full extent of United's injury crisis became apparent on the eve of this fixture. Sir Alex Ferguson was forced to play several players out of position, with midfielders Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher filling in admirably alongside his only fit senior defender Patrice Evra.
Tomasz Kuszczak continued in goal behind this unorthodox back three and was called into early action by a powerful first-time shot from Getafe. Misimovic also gave the Pole some work to do, but Anderson’s deflection took the sting out of it.
Carrick’s capabilities as an emergency centre-back were given their first serious test when Hasebe threatened to hare past him in the box, but thankfully United’s number 16 slid in to clear the danger. With Wolfsburg’s appeal for a penalty promptly waved away, the Reds regrouped to repel the resulting corner kick.
United’s defending was less convincing at the next corner, however, and had it not been for a bad header from Barzagli – over the bar from an unmarked position – the Reds could have been behind. The same could be said when Dzeko delivered a right-wing cross in open play and Misimovic nodded high