30/09/2009 21:40, Report by Nick Coppack
United 2 Wolfsburg 1
A United substitute made all the difference against German opposition in the Champions League. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Ten years after Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored sensational injury-time winners against Bayern Munich to bring Europe’s most prestigious trophy to Old Trafford, Dimitar Berbatov came off the bench to orchestrate a battling come-from-behind win to sink Wolfsburg and keep United on course for a third consecutive Euro final.
Of course, there’s a long way to go before Sir Alex’s men can even dream of walking out at the Bernabeu in May, but the Reds’ 2-1 win over Wolfsburg means United now top Group B, three points clear of the Germans and CSKA Moscow, who beat Besiktas in the night’s early fixture.
Berbatov, thrown on for the injured Michael Owen on 20 minutes, delivered what was arguably his finest performance yet in a red shirt. Astounding touch, vision and accuracy of passing permeated his play from start to finish, as everything United created seemed to go through the Bulgarian.
Sir Alex had begun the match with just six members of the side that beat Besiktas 1-0 in Istanbul on Matchday 1. Tomasz Kuszczak started between the posts, while Michael Owen was handed his first Champions League start in a United shirt.
Paul Scholes, the match-winner in Turkey a fortnight ago and the man confirmed this week as the Premier League’s most accurate passer, had to settle for a place on the bench as Sir Alex opted for a central midfield pairing of Anderson and Michael Carrick. There were also starts for Antonio Valencia – so impressive in Turkey – and the Reds’ record appearance-maker, Ryan Giggs.
Meanwhile, Wolfsburg lined up as expected: looking for goals. Last season’s surprise German champions haven’t built their success on defensive foundations, so it was no surprise to see