Manchester United 1-0 Bursaspor

An understandably shell shocked Old Trafford played host to a fairly comfortable win for the hosts with Nani scoring a wonder goal; it was the Manchester United supporters first chance to make their feelings towards Wayne Rooney known, who just three hours prior to kick off confirmed his desire to leave with a pathetically worded statement explaining his supposed respect for the club and manager.

Their win against Bursaspor here puts United on 7 points after three games and in a fairly comfortable position in the group.

United were buoyed by a united crowd in the early exchanges. Voicing their opinion with a couple of banners with messages of “who’s the whore now, Wayne?” and “Coleen forgave you, we won’t”, but importantly getting behind the eleven on the pitch, the supporters provided an electric atmosphere for the team to attack their Turkish visitors.

It was no surprise that it was Nani, instigator of all that has been good about United’s recent attacking play, who opened the scoring in the 7th minute. Collecting a pass from Fletcher, Nani’s turn evaded two defenders. The winger then cut inside, and 25 yards from goal, curled the ball into the far corner beyond the goalkeepers despairing dive.

Nani’s response was to pat his badge and hold his arms out to the Old Trafford crowd. The noticeably depleted attendance could have been forgiven for cocking a cynical eyebrow given the events of the last 48 hours, but it was the right sentiment and a gesture that sent the home fans into a frenzy.

Pressure followed but no tangible chance presented itself throughout the entirety of the first half; after 25 minutes, Bursaspor got a little more comfortable and assertive. So much so, that on the half hour, Ipek almost took advantage of a slip by Nemanja Vidic on the halfway life. Ipek raced clear and was about to pull the trigger but Rafael charged back and pulled off an heroic tackle to deny the midfielder. It was enough to dampen the early spirit from the crowd and encourage the travelling fans, who were wonderful in voice.

The second half was a procession; a comfortable performance with no real cutting threat was given a slight boost in the 71stminute when Park was removed for Obertan, who made an instant impression. Anderson’s continued comeback was cut short when he was replaced by Chicharito as Sir Alex went 4-4-2 in search of more goals, but aside from a Nani effort and a header by Obertan that clipped the post, there was nothing that really threatened the Turkish goal. Chicharito had a late effort that was comfortably wide; the visitors, in fairness, did little to threaten the scoreline, with a last minute free kick the only moment of any undue concern.

Tonights exercise might have been one of going through the motions to take the first step “post-Rooney” – before he’s even left the club! – but the initial signs of solidarity were impressive. After scoring, Nani and Patrice Evra patted the badge – Anderson did likewise after his substitution, applauding the supporters. Perhaps, to this cynical eye, we should wait and see before adoring new heroes, but those signs of togetherness among the players suggest they are fully behind the club in the wake of the latest turmoil. More pertinent, they are fully behind each other – a lesson in teamwork that their colleague, so famed for this characteristic, would do well to learn from.

Ratings : Kuszczak 6, Rafael 7, Smalling 7, Vidic 6, Evra 7, *Nani 7, Fletcher 6, Carrick 6, Anderson 7 (Chicharito), Park 6 (Obertan 7), Macheda 6

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