A rare goal from Anderson gave United a point in a captivating encounter with Valencia, ensuring the Reds’ passage to the knockout stages of the Champions League as winners of Group C.
The Spaniards had forged ahead before the interval when Pablo Hernandez punished a slack piece of play from Michael Carrick – firing home the first goal the Reds have conceded in this season’s competition – before Anderson tucked away the rebound from Ji-sung Park’s parried shot just after the hour mark.
Already assured of qualification to the second round, both sides scuffled for victory in an end-to-end tussle. Sir Alex Ferguson named a side bearing only two changes from that which obliterated Blackburn Rovers in Old Trafford’s most recent fixture. Most surprising was the inclusion of Ben Amos, who made his Champions League debut in goal, while Fabio replaced the injured Patrice Evra at left-back.
Whereas latter group stage games can often be lacklustre affairs, both sides signalled an early intention to attack. Nani dragged a shot just past Vicente Guaita’s left-hand post inside four minutes, while Ricardo Costa headed wide when well placed.
Anderson played a neat one-two with Rooney and fired tamely at Guaita, before Alejandro Dominguez twice came close in quick succession; firstly drawing a smart save from Amos with a cheeky effort from distance, then cracking a low drive against the outside of the youngster’s post.
The clearest opening of the game’s early stages fell to United, however, when Anderson’s delightfully weighted through-ball released Berbatov, who opted to try and round Guaita, only for the youngster to deny the Bulgarian by thrusting out an arm and halting his progress.