On very chilly night at Old Trafford, Manchester United defeated Bursaspor 1-0 to keep them atop the Group C standings in the UEFA Champions League.
An early thunderbolt from Nani proved to be enough for United ease to the lone-goal win over the Turkish champions, which also extended their undefeated start to the season.
United, who entered the match level on points with Rangers at the top of the Group C standings, are now two points clear following their positive result and the Scottish champions 1-1 draw with Valencia at the Ibrox Stadium.
Sir Alex Ferguson named a very virtually unchanged line-up from the one that defeated Valencia 1-0 in United’s last Champions League match, but he opted to have Federico Macheda to lead the line instead of Dimitar Berbatov.
He made only two changes to his traditional European 4-5-1 line-up as Sir Alex opted to rest Edwin van der Sar and Rio Ferdinand bringing in very capable replacements Tomasz Kuszczak and Christopher Smalling, respectively.
The first chance came when Anderson collected an arrant pass and sprung Macheda through with a nice through ball, but the young Italian’s shot was spilled by Dimitar Ivankov into a dangerous area, but unfortunately there were no United players there to pounce.
United got the breakthrough just seven minutes into the match as Nani was given acres of space to move through the middle of the Bursaspor defense, and the Portuguese winger hit a laser beam of a shot with his weaker left foot passed an outstretched Ivankov.
United dominated the possession as they stroked the ball around with a new release of confidence, but they were unable to find the end product, because either poor touches or wayward passes.
The Green Crocodiles were content to allow United as much of the ball as they wanted with the hope of catching them on a quick counter, and it seemed that they did just that in the 26th minute, but Sercan Yildirim’s lead pass could not find Volkan Sen’s feet and the chance escaped them.
The match started to open up and both teams had good chances to add to the score sheet.
The first chance came from a free-flowing passing movement, which saw a wonderful through ball by Nemanja Vidic spring Patrice Evra behind the Bursaspor defense, but his cut-back cross was luckily cutout by Ömer Erdogan and out for a corner.
From the ensuing corner, Vidic was a bit unsuspecting following a flick from Anderson, and the United captain’s header went wide of the mark.
With United pushed forward, and tracking back, Ozan Ipek outmaneuvered Vidic and looked to be breaking clean through on Tomasz Kuszczak, but a great tracking run by Rafael caught the Turk and niggled to the ball away from him before he could shoot.
United continued to press and find space, but Darren Fletcher was unaware of of how much time he had, and mistakenly laid the ball into the path of Michael Carrick, and the midfielder’s effort went well over the Bursaspor goal.
Ipek and Nani were both rightfully shown the first yellow cards for their respective sides following their little tussle down United’s right wing.
The teams closed out the first-half the same way the opened it – United pressing forward down their right-hand side, but the failing to breakdown a well-disciplined Bursaspor defense lacking that killer touch or pass.
Ertuğrul Sağlam made two changes to start the second-half bringing on Ibrahim Öztürk and Turgay Bahadir for Milan Stepanov and Yildirim, respectively, to give more stability in the middle of the field.
As they have done all season long, United were began to take their foot off the gas pedal misplace passes all over the pitch, which allowed Bursaspor more the possession, and it, ultimately, built up their confidence.
The first real chance for either side after half-time came in the 59th minute when Evra made a mazing run down the left of the Bursaspor penalty area, but his attempted cross ended up as a near post shot, which Ivankov did well to collect.
Then the United left-back did well to intercept a Bursaspor attack, and when he went forward his touch was a bit heavy, which led to Ali Tandogan making a stiff challenge resulting a yellow card.
Again, United looked to have put together a neat passing movement, but Macheda was unable to make a positive touch after Anderson’s one-touch pass looked to have sprung him in on goal.
Both managers made a change in the 71st with Gabriel Obertan making his first appearance of the season coming on for Ji-Sung Park, and Tandogan’s injury proved to be too much to handle as he was replaced by Mustafa Keçeli.
Nani created a good chance for himself to score as his very quick first step got him a yard of space, but, this time, his shot lack the pace and accuracy to beat the Bursaspor goalkeeper.
Following Evra’s run being cut off by Keçeli, Nani took a free-kick from the left angle of the Bursaspor penalty area, but his attempt at goal, if you could call it that, went seven yards over the Ivankov’s crossbar.
Sir Alex opted to make his second change of the match bringing on Javier Hernandez for Anderson, shifting the formation to a 4-4-2.
In the 82nd minute, Obertan made his presence felt by doing well to win a United corner by teasing and tormenting the Bursaspor defenders, and from the ensuing corner kick the Frenchman clipped the outside of the near post with a glancing header.
United’s next effort came a couple of minutes later when Evra laid the ball out to Hernandez, but his shot was tame and did not trouble Ivankov.
Chicharito should have doubled the United lead, but the Mexican with the Midas touch sent his shot wide of the Bursaspor far post.
In stoppage-time, and despite slipping on the slick surface, Gustav Svensson became the first Bursaspor player to test Kuszczak, but the United goalkeeper was more than ready for the long-range shot.
With the controversy surround the club, Manchester United did well to maintain their unblemished record with a comfortable 1-0 win over Bursaspor in the UEFA Champions League.
Rafael put in another convincing at right-back as he assisted in the United attack and he defended very well.
T. Kuszczak – 6; Rafael – 8, N. Vidic – 7, C. Smalling – 7, P. Evra – 8, Anderson – 6 (J. Hernandez – 6), M. Carrick – 6, D. Fletcher – 6, Nani – 7, J. S. Park – 5 (G. Obertan – 6), F. Macheda – 6
Shots (On Target): 12 (4)
Fouls Conceded (Suffered): 11 (11)