Thursday, November 26, 2009

Beşiktaş triumph at Old Trafford



Manchester United 0-1 Beşiktaş JK

Beşiktaş JK may have already been eliminated from this season's UEFA Champions League but they at least made their mark on the tournament after becoming the first away team to win at Old Trafford in the competition since 2005 thanks to Rodrigo Tello's solitary strike.

Famous scalp
United had gone 23 matches unbeaten here in Europe but after rescuing a two-goal deficit late in their preceding outing against PFC CSKA Moskva, their proud record finally fell as the Turkish champions claimed their first UEFA Champions League away victory in six years. In truth, the hosts were already assured of reaching the last 16, hence Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to make eight changes from his side's last Premier League game, but that is unlikely to dampen the celebrations of those Beşiktaş fans who had endured an 8-0 thrashing at Liverpool FC on their previous trip to England.

Breakthrough
Bottom-placed Beşiktaş knew only a win would keep alive their faint hopes of taking third place in the section, following PFC CSKA Moskva's early-evening victory. Though penned inside their half for much of the opening phase – when Nemanja Vidić was off target with a header – they gave their noisy supporters something to sing about as Tello fired them in front on 20 minutes. When a United attack broke down outside the Beşiktaş box, Matteo Ferrari sent İsmail Köybaşı away down the left. After passing the halfway line he delivered a crossfield ball to Tello yet there still seemed minimal danger as the Chilean cut infield some 35 metres out. However, with Rafael stepping back, Tello let fly and his shot glanced off the full-back and arced past Ben Foster into the far corner.

Defiant keeper
United responded with Daniel Welbeck and Federico Macheda – the teenage strikers spearheading a much-changed team – combining cleverly to get the latter behind the visiting back line but he failed to get his low cross past Rüştü Reçber. The veteran goalkeeper had conceded six on his last visit here with Fenerbahçe SK in 2004 and would have been grateful for Sir Alex Ferguson resting Wayne Rooney. Though United dominated possession they struggled to create chances, with Rüştü equal to the best of them, saving Gabriel Obertan's near-post effort after Welbeck had played in the winger.

Opportunities
The hard-working Fabian Ernst was catching the eye in the Beşiktaş midfield and his fellow German Michael Fink nearly doubled the lead four minutes before half-time. The visitors opened up the United rearguard as Tello slipped a ball infield to Bobô and his touch let in Fink, whose side-footed shot went behind off the post. United had fought back in their two preceding home matches and as the second half unfolded, they began to apply pressure, Obertan drawing a fingertip save with a low drive, then nodding on to the roof of the net.

Late scares
On came Michael Owen, Michael Carrick and Patrice Evra but it took until added time for United to seriously threaten an equaliser, Rüştü making a flying stop to tip over Macheda's header, then turning away Wes Brown's header from the resulting corner. United must now wait for their trip to VfL Wolfsburg next month to settle who finishes top of Group B.

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