By Imran Kardar
Champions League football returned to Old Trafford and Manchester United celebrated with a 2-1 win over Wolfsburg! Yes, the score line meant that it was a nervy end to the game but United never really looked threatened by Wolfsburg with DDG registering only 1 save all night. But the night belonged to the Spanish keeper’s national teammate Juan Mata. What a performance by the little maestro! A goal and an assist on the night hence a hand in both goals. He actually won the penalty which he converted so in fantasy football terms you could say he assisted both goals!
The match started off slowly with United keeping possession and moving the ball sideways. Then United were hit by a defensive lapse when Smalling stepped up to play the opposition attacker offside but Valencia was not on the same page and played Caligiuri on and he put the ball past DDG in a nice finish. United still didn’t pick up their game all too much after conceding however, Mata had different plans to the rest of his teammates. He was a constant threat to the Wolfsburg defense and around the 30th minute he got in to the box to take a shot that hit the outstretched hand of the defender and the ref pointed to the spot for the free-kick. Mata stepped up to take the penalty and converted with a cool finish. The scores were level and United were back in the game. United had two very good chances in the first half one of which fell to Rooney who skied his shot which should have hit the back of the net. The work done by Martial to set up Rooney was absolutely marvelous. He picked up the ball on the right wing and just flew past the defender and passed to an open Rooney, who missed an open goal. The second chance fell to Memphis who missed an easy header and instead headed the ball in to the ground taking all the pace off the cross and making it easy for the keeper to collect the ball.
Start of the second half United took the game to Wolfsburg and started creating better chances. Then close to the hour mark it was time for another moment of absolute brilliance and magic from Mata when he flicked the ball in a backward kick to the on rushing Smalling who got past the defense and scored. 2-1 and Mata was pulling the strings on the pitch.
United went defensive a bit too early for my liking when they substituted Schweinsteiger for Jones. After this switch Wolfsburg brought on the Lord Bendtner and Schurrle and tried to take the game to United. They had a lot of possession and attacked United but nothing really in terms of shots on goal or saves for DDG to make.
The final whistle blew and United came out with their first win of the group stages. An important win as they had lost to PSV in Holland. Off the mark in the group and still far off from qualification but on the right track. Next up, Arsenal! GGMU!