By Lee Savery
Manchester United kicked off their Champions League campaign with a tight victory over Turkish outfit Galatasaray with Michael Carrick scoring the only goal.
In a strange game that had more penalty shouts than goals, United put in a less than convincing performance that epitomised last seasons home displays in Europe last season. However, they had David De Gea to thank for a few key saves and a referee unwilling to give the away side a penalty or two that, maybe, should have gone their way.
One that should have gone their way happened after just 33 seconds when Nemanja Vidic trod on Umut Bulut but referee Wolfgang Stark told him to get to his feet. After this scare, United settled and were able to take the lead after seven minutes when Carrick played a one-two with Kagawa before rounding the keeper, who tripped the midfielder, and literally slid the ball into the empty net.
The game had started at a frantic pace and Galatasaray almost equalised three minutes later when Nordin Amrabat beat De Gea with a curling effort from outside the box but his shot clipped the bar and went behind. The visitors hit the woodwork again just before half time when a free-kick was pulled back to the edge of the box to Hamit Altintop who hit the outside of the post with his effort.
After the break, United had the chance to double the lead when Rafael surged into the penalty box before being tripped by Burak Yilmaz. However, Nani’s tame penalty was easily saved by Muslera to make it three penalties already missed by the Red Devils this season.
United had much of the play but were almost undone when a sweeping counter attack, from their own corner, forced a double save by De Gea from Yilmaz & Colak. De Gea looked assured all night and his clean sheet will give him plenty of confidence.
The home side had some late chances, including two half chances for substitute Javier Hernandez but United had to settle for just one. They survived late penalty shout when Jonny Evans caught Yilmaz as he attempted to clear the ball. Again, one that could easily have been given.
The match saw the return of Darren Fletcher from his career threatening bowel problem, as a late substitute.
Last season’s European performances were unacceptable but three points in the first game of this season is a great start for United, even if it was the slenderest of victories.
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