Giggs’ ball into the opposite area also created an opportunity, for Cluj, when Chris Smalling conceded possession and then diverted the resulting shot goalwards. Fortunately for the recalled defender, David De Gea made a reactive stop on his return to action, diverting the effort with his left thigh.
With the crowd volume and temperature dipping together, the game needed a lift and not the enforced lull when Nick Powell received a heavy blow to his torso. Fears of a rib injury dispelled, the midfielder played on and unleashed a handful of shots with typical confidence. One led to a shout in vain for handball, another driven into the ground presented Smalling with a half chance, his flicked header landing on the roof of Cluj’s net.
Still bidding for a place alongside United in the next round, the Romanians mounted offensives of their own, only to be twice thwarted by two men born on Merseyside. Firstly, Wootton matched Modou Sogou for pace and blocked his shot with a brilliant challenge; next, Wayne Rooney took his deeper role to extremes with a timely clearance inside the six-yard box. De Gea also had another save to make when Cluj defender Felice Piccolo made a powerful connection with a corner and headed down at the young Spaniard’s feet.
De Gea’s opposite number Mario Felgueiras denied both Welbeck and Rooney in the same spell of United pressure shortly before half-time, acrobatically palming away the former’s header and then the