FOOTBALL NEWS

30/09/2010 09:35, Report by Ben Hibbs & Mark Froggatt
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The ultimate away display

United had all the wily experience and Champions League know-how to pull off the perfect smash and grab 1-0 away win in Valencia, according to Darren Fletcher.

The Reds packed the midfield and soaked up the pressure - and got a bit of luck at times - before finding the killer sucker punch right at the end. Dimitar Berbatov and Anderson ran themselves into the ground before Federico Macheda and eventual match-winner Javier Hernandez came off the bench to provide fresh legs and the penetration to finally beat the Valencia defence.

“We have picked up a lot of experience away from home in Europe. We knew it was going to be difficult," said Fletcher. "Valencia have had a fantastic start to the season. They are a sharp, attacking side and took the game to us, but we knew would create chances on the counter attack.

"With the tempo they played at in the first half, we knew they wouldn’t keep that up for the whole game. The manager picked the right moment to bring on the two fresh strikers and I think that won us the game."

The five-man midfield allowed United to contain Valencia in a cagey game. “It is important that the midfield do not get dominated away from home in Europe," adds the Scot.

"They had a lot of players who were drifting in wide areas so to get control of that midfield was going to be vital. It was important for us to have an extra man in there to control the game a little bit, be solid and hard to beat, and that was the plan. We wanted to hit quickly on the break, have four men forward at every opportunity and when we do get the ball try and keep possession.

“It was an all-round team performance from the front players, to midfielders, to the defenders. Everyone put in a shift, worked hard tactically and concentrated through the whole game. If you lose concentration away from home against a talented team like Valencia, you get punished. Even when things were getting difficult and people were getting tired the concentration levels were high."

Having put in the hard yards, it required some fresh thinking in attack when Hernandez finally fired United in front on 85 minutes.

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