Man Utd 2-0 Otelul Galati

Antonio Valencia
Valencia's early goal sent United on the way to victory

Manchester United made hard work of finishing off Otelul Galati but Wayne Rooney's late second goal sent them top of Group C on goal difference and kept them on course for the Champions League knockout stages.

It appeared Antonio Valencia's close-range finish in the eighth minute would be the only goal of the night against the resolute Romanian side until defender Cristian Sarghi's ill-advised attempt to block Rooney's 25-yard shot ended with the ball looping into the net.

Basel's draw with Benfica means United replace the Portuguese outfit as group leaders, and sets up a showdown between the top two at Old Trafford on 22 November.

United, playing their first game on home turf since their 6-1 defeat by neighbours Manchester City, have now won three games in three competitions since that derby debacle and, while they may not be playing with the verve they displayed earlier in the season, they are doing the most important thing - which is winning.

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With Otelul coach Dorinel Munteaunu describing a point here as a "dream result" before kick-off, his side's ambitions were clear, so for United to take the lead so early on was a relief for the home fans, especially after what had happened in the last game here.

It was a simple goal too. Dimitar Berbatov fed Phil Jones down the right and, although Michael Owen failed to get enough on his low cross at the near post, Valencia was on hand to turn it home.

If that settled some nerves, it did not open the floodgates. Otelul almost managed an instant reply when Marius Pena sent a glancing header wide from Liviu Antal's cross, but otherwise they continued to defend in numbers.

And United's fast start soon turned into frustration, beginning when Owen's rare chance to shine alongside Berbatov ended when he limped off with a suspected thigh strain after just 11 minutes.

His replacement Javier Hernandez was unusually sloppy in the final third leaving Jones with his marauding runs forward as by far United's best attacking outlet.

Jones was unlucky to see Sarghi head his curling shot away after cutting into the area but that was the closest the home side came to extending their lead before the break.

Otelul created little in response apart from what United gave them, with one example a careless Jonny Evans pass which almost released Pena but instead was the launchpad for Fabio's fruitless surge forward.

Nani repeated the trick on the stroke of half-time, allowing Ionut Neagu to cut into the area and fire in a shot which took a hefty deflection off Rio Ferdinand but was brilliantly pushed away by David de Gea.

With their advantage far from safe, United understandably looked anxious to finish the game off after the break but they were continually thwarted by poor finishing.

Berbatov - so often ignored this season - brought a fine stop from Branko Grahovac after being played in by Hernandez, but otherwise he struggled to find the target - most notably when he ran on to Cornel Rapa's poor back-pass but steered his shot into the side netting.

Hernandez was also guilty of wastefulness in front of goal, heading a fine Jones cross over, while Anderson was denied by Sergiu Costin's desperate goal-line clearance after flicking the ball past Grahovac.

The Romanian side were hardly looking a threat at the other end but it took until the 87th minute for the points to be truly safe.

Rooney, who had been operating in central midfield all night, tried his luck from distance and ended up wrong-footing the Otelul goalkeeper after the ball cannoned off Sarghi.

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