30/09/2009 21:40, Report by Nick Coppack
United 2 Wolfsburg 1
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 Armin Veh pick both Grafite and Edin Dzeko up front.
And it was the Germans who carved out the first chance of the game, albeit with the help of some hesitant Reds defending. When the ball broke to Christian Gentner, however, he failed to muster any real power in his shot and Kuszczak gratefully watched the ball all the way into his hands.
It was an early scare for the Reds and a reminder that Wolfsburg, so potent a fortnight ago in their 3-1 win against CSKA Moscow, would not be tamed easily. Indeed, the visitors began brightest, enjoyed much of the early possession and looked remarkably comfortable on the ball.
In contrast, United struggled to get behind the Wolfsburg defence; the Reds’ first shot took 20 minutes to arrive and even then it was a speculative free-kick from 30 yards.
It made for frustrating viewing for the home fans, and the mood worsened further when Michael Owen was forced from the pitch with a groin injury. His replacement, the mercurial Berbatov, made an immediate impact, first smashing a controlled volley to Rooney to run onto before playing Valencia in with a cheeky backheel a minute later.