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UEFA Champions League
October 2, 2012
• Stadionul Dr. Constantin Rădulescu, Cluj-Napoca
Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco
• Attendance: 16259
P. Kapetanos 14'
R. van Persie 29', 49'
Thank you for joining us, and sadly any 'horror show' headlines you dreamt up when Cluj went 1-0 ahead will have to be binned. Still, it's the thought that counts. Good night.
In truth, it was a poor performance from united. The defence was brittle throughout the match, and despite the number of chances created, the Cluj goalkeeper didn't have to leap to any heroics to prevent further United goals. Still, an away win in the Champions League is the perfect tonic to recent league troubles, and Ferguson will ultimately be glad of the three points.
That's it - United win, but only just. Cluj went ahead early, but that man Robin van Persie was the difference between the two sides with two goals. However, were it not for an inspired David de Gea stop late on, United would have dropped two points here in Romania.
90' + 3'
It should be three points for United now, but they will have wanted to wrap it up far earlier than this.
90' + 2'
...De Gea makes a stunning save to deny Cluj! The home side win the ball back, and a cross is whipped in from the right to Bastos, whose header looks destined for the net before the Spaniard does brilliantly to flick the ball wide of the post. Say what you want about his catching, but there are few better shot-stoppers in the world than De Gea.
Three minutes left and good work between Anderson and Danny Welbeck buys United a few seconds to waste up near the corner flag. They should see this one out now, but...
Another corner for Cluj here as the midfield switches off and a shot is deflected wide. It's all getting a bit desperate in there, but United clear their lines. This will be too close for comfort for Ferguson.
Yellow Card Rio Ferdinand
...but Van Persie clears it and then defends well once more. The Dutch striker has had a brilliant game after struggling to feature for the first half an hour, and could be so important for United's hopes in Europe this year.
Ferdinand gets a yellow card after kicking Bastos in the knee. It wasn't meant as he got the ball originally, but the free kick is a headache that United don't need with only four minutes remaining...
Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez
Well, United may face a slightly nervy finish here as Scott Wooton replaces Jonny Evans with 12 minutes remaining. The young defender played against Newcastle in the League Cup last week, but this is a big step up for the centre-back, despite the relative status of the hosts.
Evra goes down just as he looks to put the finishing touch to a great move - Van Persie found the Frenchman but the left back went down in a heap with the Cluj defender when it looked easier to score. It'll be interesting to see that one again...
Van Persie close to a hat-trick here - Cleverley finds Rooney with a cute pass to set the England forward away on the left in the box, and his cross almost finds the Dutchman, who just cannot reach the ball to wrap the game up.
Cluj are growing in confidence, and it's moments like this when Paul Scholes or Michael Carrick would be invaluable in bringing a calming influence to United's midfield. Ferguson's men look relatively comfortable, but Fletcher and Anderson ahve been caught in possession of late, and will have to tighten up.
Anderson gets into a promising crossing position, but punts the ball out for a goal kick. The Brazilian has had a curious game, playing some fine passes, and wasting other presentable opportunities. Pretty much like his entire United career.
Lots of tight tiki-taka from United here but they're still looking for that third goal to give themselves a bit of breathing space - a one-goal lead in Europe is a dangerous scoreline to try and hold.
The centre is so congested that United are finding it difficult to break through the centre of the Cluj defence. It would be no surprise to see Nani introduced later on to stretch the play on the counter for the visitors.
So nearly an equaliser for Cluj! Cadu powers a great header at goal, but De Gea is equal to it and pulls off a fine save above his head to flick the ball over the bar. The home side are getting closer to another here, and Ferguson will be fuming.
A corner for Cluj as Evra is forced to head away another cross from the right. The home side are looking to get back in to this game, and won't simply sit back and wait for defeat here.
Cluj almost hit back immediately as Kapatanos whips his effort high and wide of David De Gea's goal after a cross from the right. United deserve to be ahead, but cannot afford to be sloppy at the back so soon after going ahead.
Looking back at the replays, it really was a fantastic move between the United strikers - Rooney has set up both of Van Persie's goals tonight, and it looks as though the two may be able to play together after all...
Assist Wayne Rooney
Goal Robin van Persie
UNITED ARE AHEAD!!! Rooney is out on the riight and finds the run of Van Persie, who deftly flicks the ball beyond the onrushing keeper with the outside of his left boot. A fantastic finish, and United have the lead.
Rooney's early sighter at goal suggests United want to carry on as they finished the first half, as they win a corner from the deflected shot. Anderson then preceded to shoot about 40 yards over the bar on the volley. It looked like he was genuinely aiming for that big old Transylvanian moon in the night sky.
And we're underway once more - can United find the goals to make it two wins from two in Europe this season? Or will Cluj pull off an almighty shock?
Robin van Persie has a somewhat fortunate goal to open his European account for United, but could and maybe should have had a hat-trick by now with the amount of chances on offer. With the likes of Shinji Kagawa and Danny Welbeck to call on, this game should open up for United, but don't bet against a shock tonight if Patrice Evra carries on in this kind of form...
...and that's it for now. So Manchester United once again go behind to an early goal, and Sir Alex Ferguson will be fuming at his side conceding such a soft strike. But credit to Cluj, they've defended well and deserve to be level, despite United turning the screw in a bid to get ahead.
Rooney lines up a free kick from a full 35 yards, but it's a weak effort that bounces into the grateful hands of Mário Felgueiras. And that should be that for the opening 45...
Cleverley feels he should have a penalty here as he's felled following a Rooney corner, but it would've been very, very soft. Cluj take the chance to break away, but can't make it count. United will need to get back quickly to prevent a classic counter as the game wear on.
The tempo's slowed a little here, and Cluj take the chance to get forward. Bastos has a great chance to cross from the left, but Rafael blocks it. The delivery will have to be better than that from the hosts, but that's more encouraging as they've been camping like they're preparing for the Duke of Edinburgh award for the last half hour.
Van Persie almost gives United the lead after being found with a lovely ball from Hernandez, but his left-footed volley is saved well by the Cluj goalkeeper. It was a lovely flick off the knee by the Dutchman to give himself some space there - what a player he is.
Van Persie may have been offside there, and the Cluj defenders thought so, but replays are as yet inconclusive. But United fully deserve that equaliser, and when you've got somebody like Robin van Persie up front, those lucky bounces usually end up going in.
Assist Wayne Rooney
Goal Robin van Persie
AND VAN PERSIE EQUALISES!!! The free kick is costly as Rooney whips in a decent free kick, but nobody is picking up the Dutchman and his effort - which is parlty head and partly shoulder - loops up and over the despairing Mário Felgueiras. Game on.
United looking for a way through but Cluj are marshaling Ferguson's side well. You've got to feel that United can kick on to another level here though, and they've got a free kick on the left...
A big blow for the hosts as Sougou is coming off after being injured by Patrice Evra a few minutes ago. Luis Alberto comes on in his place. Patrice Evra will be the happiest man in the stadium.
Van Persie is so close after a great chipped ball through the centre from Cleverley finds the Dutchman, who can only volley wide of the keeper's right-hand post. And then Anderson hoofs a pass to nobody for a throw-in. It's moments like these that make you realise how much Paul Scholes means to United.
Rooney tests Mário Felgueiras with a low curling drive that the keeper tips round the post for a corner. Moments later, United come again and Anderson shoots narrowly wide after being teed up by Hernandez from 20 yards. Close for United, but not close enough.
Patrice Evra is looking less and less comfortable with each passing game for United. He gets caught out badly once more by the hosts, leaving a huge gap to exploit, but the cross is wasted.
United are miffed, and are pressing high up the pitch for an equaliser now. The home crowd's boos and whisltes are deafening, and they cheer Mario Felgueiras' punch from Rooney's cross like it's another goal. This could be a long night for United.
Assist M. Sougou
Goal Pantelis Kapetanos
AND CLUJ GO AHEAD!!! Sougou is more than ok after that hit, beating Evra down the wing easily and crossing low for Kapetanos, who gets in between Evans and Ferdinand and finds a low finish past the sprawling De Gea. Abject defending from the visitors, and the French full back in particular.
Sougou is down after being pelted in the face by an Anderson pass there - but he's up and OK now....
Very compact from the hosts here, but it could prove to be their undoing as Rooney finds far too much space in behind the midfield and feeds Anderson, who can only scuff wide from 20 yards. The Cluj midfield will have to drop deeper, or the defenders may have to push up, but they cannot let Rooney have that level of freedom.
Fletcher dispossesses a Cluj midfielder energetically and finds a nice ball for Hernandez, whose cross comes to nothing. That will please Ferguson and United fans though, to finally see the Scot back doing what he does best - they've missed that in recent weeks and months.
Cleverley and Anderson are looking to support the attack here, and you'd expect them to be able to find gaps at some point. Evra and Rafael are already practically stationed as wingers so perhaps United won't miss the likes of Valencia and Nani too much after all tonight.
Early corner here for Cluj as Ferdinand sloppily concedes possession and has to block the ball out...and it's almost a goal! The corner is whipped in and Fletcher touches it wide of the back post. Dangerous from the hosts here...
And we're off! United with the early possession here, but nothing comes of some nice early passing between Fletcher, Anderson and Rooney.
That being said, does anybody want to volunteer any cheesy headlines if United do slip to defeat tonight? Answers in the Comments section below please.
United will have to watch out for Sougou on the right wing, whose pace could well trouble Patrice Evra, while Bastos hit two goals against Braga and will be the hosts' main attacking threat. This will by no means be easy for United, who will want to avoid a horror show underneath a full moon in Transylvania - sorry, but it had to be said.
The front three for United is surely one of the most fearsome in world football in the form of Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Robin van Persie, but there's no real width as, well, United have no wingers on the pitch. That could play into the hands of Cluj manager Ioan Andone, who will hope his side can frustrate United in the centre of the pitch.
So with Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs all missing out tonight with varying ailments, Ferguson will rely on Anderson, Tom Cleverley and Darren Fletcher in the middle tonight. The Scottish midfielder is making only his second start for the Red Devils in 10 months, so tonight is a big night for him.
Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Anderson, Fletcher, Cleverley; Rooney, Van Persie, Hernández. Subs: Lindegaard, Büttner, Wootton, Nani, Powell, Kagawa, Welbeck.
The team news is in... CFR Cluj: Mário Felgueiras; Ivo Pinto, Sepsi, Cadú, Rada; Camora, Mureşan, Bastos, Aguirregaray, Kapetanos; Sougou. Subs: Stăncioiu, Maftei, Piccolo, Diogo Valente, Luís Alberto, Nicoară, Bjelanović.
Good evening, and welcome to the Goal.com live commentary of CFR Cluj - Manchester United in the Champions League. Sir Alex Ferguson will be looking for a positive response after his side slipped to a shock defeat at home to Tottenham on Saturday, but will have to negotiate a tricky Romanian side who beat Braga 2-0 in their opening group game.
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