Solskjaer brace takes United a step closer
By Simon Fudge
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
A brace by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to go along with goals by David Beckham, Mikael Silvestre, and a Ruud van Nistelrooy penalty cancelled out an early Frederic Da Rocha strike for Nantes.
United looked shaky with their defending at times, as the away side were unfortunate not to have scored more goals, as Nantes took the game to their hosts for periods of the match.
The French side went the closest to scoring after Frederic Da Rocha struck his header from a cross against the bar and with United trying to scramble the ball clear, van Nistelrooy looked to have handled the ball in the box before clearing it away, but the Spanish referee Mr. Gonzalez waved off any infraction.
Da Rocha caused more problems when he received a through-ball, but he could not reach it as Fabien Barthez saved and covered up in time.
However, a quarter of an hour later, Nantes went into a shock lead when Da Rocha got on the end of a Pierre-Yves Andre cross from the right and slotted home to give the away side a shock 1-0 lead.
But a minute later, United equalised when David Beckham turned one of his famous free-kicks over the Nantes wall and past Landreau to make it 1-1.
United then took the lead after half an hour, van Nistelrooy received a ball in the box, turned and crossed at the end-line towards Ryan Giggs at the far post, who headed back across goal to find Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who headed home to make it 2-1.
Seven minutes before the half, United struck again when a Beckham free-kick from the right was crossed into the far post and Mikael Silvestre powered his header home to make it 3-1.
Three minutes before the half, Da Rocha nearly got Nantes back in it, as his strike beat Barthez but not the post as the ball rolled clear and the half ended 3-1 to the home side.
The second half saw Pierre-Yves Andre look the more attacked-minded Nantes player with three early chances, one forcing Barthez into an easy save.
United then replied when a Giggs run forced an error from Sylvain Armand, Giggs dispossessed him yet the Welshman's strike beat Landreau but not the post.
Nantes replied with a long ball towards Andre, which forced Barthez to come scrambling out and try and clear the ball away with his head, as United ride their luck with their defending at times in the second frame.
But United put the match away when a ball played through towards van Nistelrooy forced Nestor Fabbri to bring down the Dutch striker in the box, forcing referee Mr. Gonzalez to award a penalty.
Van Nistelrooy hammered the spot-kick down the middle to make it 4-1 and put the match out of reach.
Solskjaer then capped a fine evening for him, when he got his second goal after another Beckham free-kick from the left came in and the Norwegian hit-man flicked it past Landreau at the far post to make it 5-1.
United substitute Diego Forlan came close to opening his acount with the club, but his lob on goal went just over the bar as the home side romped to an easy victory, after a surprisingly poor start at Old Trafford.
In the other Group A match, a late Roque Santa Cruz strike allowed Bayern Munich to keep pace with Manchester United, as they beat plucky Portuguese side Boavista 1-0 in Munich's Olympiastadion.
A tight match saw both sides hit the woodwork in the second half as another 0-0 draw between both sides looked ever apparent.
But with three minutes to go, Bixente Lizarazu got to the Boavista by-line where he crossed and the Paraguayan calmly headed home to give Bayern an important victory and put the German side closer to the quarter-finals.
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