After several scares at the back, the Reds inflicted one at the other end when Anderson threaded a ball into Welbeck’s feet at the edge of the area and the young striker slotted it low inside Benaglio’s left-hand post. A roar went up from the vocal away fans, but alas, the lad was offside and it was Wolfsburg’s turn to feel relieved.
United enjoyed a decent share of the possession as the first period wore on and were again close to capitalising when the front two, Owen and Welbeck, combined well before the junior partner dragged his shot wide. In reply, Hasebe tried his luck from distance but was denied the opening goal by a flying finger-tip save from Kuszczak.
Where Welbeck narrowly failed, the elder statesman alongside him succeeded when United took the lead two minutes before the break. Scholes was involved, delivering a delicious pass out to the left where Nani was ready and waiting to advance and bend in the perfect cross. Owen’s predatory instincts kicked in and sneaking between two defenders, he planted his head on the ball and buried it past Benaglio from six yards.
With their hopes of reaching the last 16 under threat, Wolfsburg had to up the ante after the break. Ten minutes after the restart, they were level – Schafer playing a one-two with Gentner to get ahead of Park and centre for Dzeko to power home a header from close range. Although not quite a carbon copy of Owen’s opener, it came via the same route – a left-wing cross expertly converted by the centre-forward.
With United in the grip of an injury crisis, there were furrowed brows on the bench when Nani clutched an ankle after bravely blocking a shot. Although the Portuguese played on for a few minutes, he made way for Antonio Valencia in a double change that also brought Gabriel Obertan on for Welbeck.