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UEFA Champions League Group H wrap: United toil for victory

Manchester United’s unconvincing Champions League form continued in Romania as they made hard work of a 2-1 win over CFR Cluj.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had spoken of the need for his side to start strongly, but again they fell behind early following a Pantelis Kapetanos strike before Robin van Persie struck twice to claim victory for the Premier League giants.

Despite all the attacking talent on show from the visitors, it was Cluj who struck first.

Modou Sougou was the architect, crossing for the unmarked Kapetanos to sweep the ball into the corner past a despairing David De Gea on 14 minutes.

United immediately went on the attack with Wayne Rooney turning and firing wide before Van Persie thumped a strike past the post after neat work by Tom Cleverley.

However, against a side who have kept just two clean sheets in their last 12 matches it was little surprise to see United finally score just shy of the half-hour mark when Van Persie pulled the Red Devils level.

A free-kick from the left was swung in by Rooney finding the Dutchman completely unmarked, and his looping header, which bounced fortuitously off his shoulder, dipped over goalkeeper Mario Felgueiras and into the back of the net.

The visitors continued to dominate the play but had to wait until just after the interval to finally take the lead and again it was Rooney who was the provider. The England international, out wide on the right, floated a perfectly weighted ball through to Van Persie who grabbed his second of the match with a neat flick over the onrushing Felgueiras.

Yet it was not all one-way traffic as Cluj came back strongly with goalscorer Kapetanos firing high and wide when in space, before an alert De Gea denied Cadu.

United managed to reassert their grip and patiently kept possession to see the game out safely.

In the group’s other match, Ruben Micael’s close-range strike and a breakaway Alan goal at the death secured Sporting Braga’s 2-0 victory over Galatasaray at the Ali Sami Yen Stadium.

The deadlock was broken by the Portuguese visitors after Ruben Amorim’s shot was parried into the stride of Micael, who gleefully converted before the Galatasaray defence were able to react.

Alan completed the victory on the counter in the last minute of second-half injury-time as Braga moved to third place in the standings, equal on three points with second-placed Cluj.

United top the table having won their opening two games, while Galatasaray are yet to register a point.

Tue 2 October, 2012
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