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Man Utd 2-0 Bayer Leverkusen

Games like this can either be great or awful. When both teams have qualified they can either use it as a training ground practice game full of flair and tricks, or they can stroke it around half heartedly knowing the result does not matter. Strangely, this match was neither and came somewhere imbetween the two categories. It was a not a fully weakened side, with the likes of Rio, Scholes, Giggs, Beckham and Ruud all starting, yet nor was it a fully strengthened attempt at winning the game at all costs. Bayer, on their third visit to Old Trafford in two seasons, also fielded a young, weak side, yet they offered little to the match.

United had pride to play for following Saturday’s awful defeat at the hands of City. They didnt do enough to win totally back the support of a fickle United crowd, yet they won the game anyhow. An early penalty from Bayer ballooned over the crossbar and from then on it was United’s match.

The Reds seemed to knock decent crosses in to the box with ease and it was only scrambled clearances from the Germans that kept the scores level. Two minutes before half time, in a subdued atmosphere, Veron set up a shot for himself, then passed it beautifully into the back of the net from outside the area. I smiled as Veron had just answered his critics perfectly and silence the guy to my right who had been hurling abuse at him earlier in the game.

The second half continued as the first left off, yet United created more chances. As Van Nistelrooy stroked the second into the back of the net echoes of “Are you watching merseyside?” reminded everyone that only decent teams qualify for the second group stage! A third was ruled out for off side, but the game was won and United ended the game top of the group. It might not have been as exciting as Newcastle’s win in Holland, but it was a job well done, with special praise for O’Shea and Fortune who did well.

The best moment of the night came in the second half when Gary Neville was borught on as a sub. The clueless United fans had been slating him all week since the derbym but the Old Trafford faithful value their passionate right back. As he came on the stadium echoed with a chant of “Gary Neville is a red”. That is how we ought to treat our players; loyal to the core.

In the next group we have a good trip back to Coruna, and a journey to either Milan or Turin; lets hope its Milan. Well doen Reds, it was a job well done.

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