Besiktas 0-1 Manchester United: Paul Scholes goal enough for three points

Schools A late header from Paul Scholes handed Manchester United a 1-0 win over Besiktas in Istanbul to give them a winning start in the Champions League.

The first hour of the match was an evenly matched affair as the well organised hosts stifled United with the full backing of their vociferous home support.

But the Red Devils made substitutions and a tactical change as the game began to open up in the closing stages and Scholes pounced with a header on 77 minutes after Hakan Arikan had parried Nani’s shot – a perfect response after his sending off against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.

As a result Wolfsburg and United lead the way in Group B after the first match-day, with CSKA Moscow and the Turkish champions getting off to losing starts.

Besiktas’ key men, striker Nihat Kahveci and experienced goalkeeper Rustu Recber were only fit enough for the substitutes’ bench.

As expected, Manchester United made some changes; five in total. Gary Neville, Jonny Evans, Antonio Valencia, Nani and Michael Carrick were the players to come in as Wayne Rooney started as a lone striker.

The first half got off to a slow start as the visitors had more of the possession but struggled to break Besiktas down.

Carrick came close with a long-range effort in 12th minute, but his shot was well held by stand-in stopper Arikan, who also had to be alert to tip away a wayward header from one of his own defenders after Nani’s near post corner two minutes later.

Despite having less of the ball than their more illustrious opponents, it was the home side who came closest to scoring in the first half. On 26 minutes, Serdar Ozkan turned well on the edge of United’s area and unleashed a powerful shot that deflected up off Evans and was inches away from looping over Ben Foster and into the United net, falling just over crossbar.

Ozkan had another effort shortly before the break, but was more wayward than in his first attempt and failed to work Foster.

Immediately after the break United caused panic in the Besiktas box for the first time with an excellent cross from Nani that prompted a goalmouth scramble. Eventually Matteo Ferrari and Arikan were able to end the danger after Carrick had been unable to get a clean shot away.

Ten minutes later, Rodrigo Tabata shot straight at Foster after Nemanja Vidic made a poor clearance as the first hour of proceedings failed to produce a clear-cut opportunity for either side.

As a result, Sir Alex Ferguson changed things up for United, bringing on Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen for Carrick and Rooney, switching United to a more familiar 4-4-2 for the last 25 minutes. Rooney did not look impressed when is number came up on the touchline.

After 70 minutes the lively Valencia flashed a shot across the face of goal and Owen was harshly adjudged offside before Mert Nobre headed wide at the other end.

A breakthrough finally came inside the last 15 minutes and it arrived for the visitors. United worked the play out to the left, finding Nani, who shifted onto his left foot and forced Arikan to parry his shot into the air. Unfortunately for the keeper the ball fell straight into the path of the onrushing Scholes and the Englishman composed himself to guide a header into the far corner.

Evra blocked Filip Holosko’s shot, while Nobre almost got on end of substitute Nihat’s threatening cross as the hosts looked for a late equaliser, but it was United who came closest to scoring the game’s second goal when Owen shot narrowly wide after being slipped through by Berbatov.

Goal

~ by footballdirecta on September 16, 2009.

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