30/09/2009 21:40, Report by Nick Coppack
United 2 Wolfsburg 1
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.
The Reds had the ball in the net on 28 minutes and had every reason to feel aggrieved when the Hungarian officials disallowed the goal. Berbatov was adjudged to have been in an offside position before crossing for Rooney to finish but replays showed the Bulgarian was at least a yard onside.
Berbatov was the architect once again on 30 minutes, his clever pass releasing Carrick, who found himself one-on-one with Wolfsburg goalkeeper Diego Benaglio. The stopper spread himself well, though, and repelled Carrick’s effort to keep the scores at 0-0.