Berba brace sinks Celtic
Bulgarian strikes twice as United march on
Last Updated: 21/10/08 10:01pm
Double delight: Dimitar Berbatov celebrates his brace against Celtic
Manchester United ran out comfortable winners of their UEFA Champions League double header with Celtic thanks to a Dimitar Berbatov brace.
The Bulgarian netted poacher's strikes either side of half-time with Wayne Rooney adding the gloss late on to give the holders a 3-0 win.
Both Berbatov's goals looked suspiciously offside but the English champions still fully deserved their win against a Celtic outfit lacking injured strikers Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, Georgios Samaras and Chris Killen.
But any debate was ended with a trademark Rooney strike on 75 minutes to leave United sitting top of Group E with seven points.
The hosts suffered an injury blow ahead of kick-off, Rio Ferdinand hit by a groin strain in the run-up to the game. He was replaced by Jonny Evans with Gary Neville handed the captain's arm band.
The home side were out of the traps quickly, Anderson just failing to get enough on a Nani free-kick.
As United pressed with pace, the Scottish champions defended robustly, and in the 12th minute they had the first real attempt on goal when midfielder Aiden McGeady sent in a left-footed drive from 20 yards which Edwin van der Sar was happy to push around his left post for a corner.
Van der Sar was called into action again when he had to tip over a brilliant Caldwell volley from 25 yards out.
United's pressure subsided as the first half progressed and the Parkhead side
began to look increasingly comfortable.
But in the 29th minute United went back up the gears again to take the lead through Berbatov.
After Nani's corner from the left bounced around the Celtic box, John O'Shea prodded the ball towards goal and the former Spurs striker, looking suspiciously offside, helped it past Artur Boruc from close range.
The relief among the United players and fans was tangible and they took control again with Rooney testing Boruc with a snapshot from 30 yards which the Poland international confidently clutched to his chest.
Nani curled a 20-yard shot past Boruc's left-hand post soon after and although United had clearly resumed their dominance, O'Shea almost knocked the ball past van der Sar with a wild clearance from just outside his six-yard box.
United midfielder Darren Fletcher should have made it 2-0 just on the interval but carelessly drove high over the bar from eight yards out.
Five minutes after the restart the hosts were 2-0 up. Anderson was fouled in Ronaldo territory. The Portuguese powered in the free-kick which was parried by Boruc but Berbatov - who again looked half-a-yard offside - reacted first to prod the ball home from five yards.
Rooney thought he had made it three when he ran onto Ronaldo's threaded pass but he was flagged offside as he rounded Boruc even though he appeared level with the last defender.
Sir Alex Ferguson opted to change things on the hour mark, Berbatov making way for Carlos Tevez while Neville was replaced by Wes Brown.
And the lively Argentine had an opportunity to make it three after a jinking run but his shot was deflected narrowly wide.
The visitors, who had struggled to make inroads, began to look deflated and it was no surprise when United extended their lead.
And there was no surprise the scorer was Rooney as he notched his seventh in as many games for club and country.
The England striker was fed by Tevez on the edge of the area and got a quick right-footed shot away beyond the despairing grasp of Boruc.
Tevez was desperate to prove a point to Ferguson during his half-hour cameo but his best work came to nothing in the closing moments.
Substitute Paul Hartley did threaten briefly at the other end but his brave run was snuffed out by the home defence who have still to concede a goal in three games.
|Manchester United||Team Statistics||Celtic|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||2|
|8||Shots off Target||3|
UEFA Champions League
Tue 21st Oct - Group H
Zenit1 - 1BATE Borisov
Juventus2 - 1R Madrid
Tue 21st Oct - Group E
Villarreal6 - 3Aalborg
Man Utd3 - 0Celtic
Tue 21st Oct - Group F
Bay Munich3 - 0Fiorentina
S Bucuresti3 - 5Lyon
Tue 21st Oct - Group G
Fenerbahce2 - 5Arsenal
FC Porto0 - 1Dynamo Kiev
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|1||Zenit St. Petersburg||1||3|
UEFA Champions League Group D
UEFA Champions League Group E
UEFA Champions League Group F
|2||Paris St Germain||1||1|
UEFA Champions League Group G
UEFA Champions League Group H