United edged a step closer to qualification for the Champions League knock-out stages with a hard-fought 3-0 victory over Bursaspor in Turkey.
After surviving a couple of minor scares in a tepid first half, the Reds were, in the end, just too good for the Turkish champions who could not be faulted for effort on the night. Effort can only get you so far, however, with quality more often than not winning out and so it proved. Darren Fletcher put the visitors ahead three minutes after the break, with Gabriel Obertan and Bebe sealing the win late on with a pair of fine finishes to put United on 10 points at the top of Group C.
Sir Alex, who was missing a host of players through injury and illness, made three changes to the side that started against Tottenham, with Chris Smalling replacing the rested Rio Ferdinand at the heart of the defence, Paul Scholes returning in central midfield and Gabriel Obertan coming in for only his second start of the campaign. Javier Hernandez and Ji-sung Park dropped to the bench with Dimitar Berbatov leading the line on his own up front. Bursaspor manager Ertugrul Saglam, meanwhile, had the luxury of fielding a full-strength team, although he opted to leave defender Milan Stepanov, fit again after suffering a knee injury at Old Trafford, on the bench.
As the Reds have experienced many times before in Turkey, the home fans did their utmost to make things as hostile as possible and, despite being without a point or goal before kick-off, the hosts quickly looked to unsettle the visitors. Despite Bursaspor’s best efforts, it was United who had the first sight of goal on eight minutes. Patrice Evra made a fine run down the left before crossing towards Berbatov, but the Bulgarian was unable to generate enough power on his header to trouble fellow countryman Dimitar Ivankov.
Soon afterwards, following loud but unfounded home appeals for a penalty after Sercan Yildirim collapsed under Scholes' challenge, Berbatov had the game's second noteworthy effort,