Defenders of the faith: A night in the life of a makeshift Manchester United rearguard

09 December 2009 12:28
GETTING TO KNOW YOU.Sir Alex Ferguson sprang a surprise by naming a back three and two wingbacks. Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher 'enjoyed' a once-in-a-career opportunity (they surely hoped) to stand side-by-side in defence, alongside Patrice Evra who, rather against the spirit of the occasion, near-enough started in his usual position on the left. Ji-Sung Park and Nani accepted duties out wide, leaving Oliver Gill, son of chief executive David, on the bench.

Double act: Carrick and Fletcher

BEGINNER'S LUCK.Carrick slid into action on 13 minutes - and duly upended Makoto Hasebe inside the area. Now, either the referee couldn't believe he had seen such a poor challenge, or he gave the stand-in centre back the benefit of the doubt, but either way there was no spot kick. Andrea Barzagu and Zvjezdan Misimovic then missed unmarked headers as United's defensive understudies, somehow, held out.

Midfielder's challenge: Carrick floors Hasebe

WIDE MEN WINGING IT.Fletcher, Carrick and Evra looked more at home as the game progressed, just like wing back duo Nani and Park, after having initially been caught somewhere between defence and attack, just usually not with the ball. But they warmed to their task nicely, with the Portugal international producing the telling moment of the first half when he delivered the perfect cross for Michael Owen to guide home his header.

Hard yards: Nani 'challenges' Wolfsburg's Sascha Riether

STROLL IN THE PARK FOR THE STAND-INS.And just when it looked like new careers beckoned for United's stand-ins, up popped Edin Dzeko to boom home a header from close range and leave Carrick in no man's land. But United, despite their injury-blighted team, hadn't come for a draw and Ferguson took off Nani, and asked Park to tuck in at right back to allow the attacking instincts of substitutes Antonio Valencia and Gabriel Obertan to come to the fore. And didn't they just, with Obertan's silky skills setting up Owen for his second goal of the night. The (former?) England man will take the plaudits for his hat-trick but, for Fletcher, Carrick, Evra and Co, it was very much job done.

Tucking in: Park showed his mettle

 Wolfsburg 1 Manchester Utd 3: Brilliant Michael Owen fires hat-trick to ensure United top their Champions League groupWolfsburg's wanted man Dzeko shows Manchester United why he's head boyWolfsburg 1 Manchester United 3: As it happenedMANCHESTER UNITED FC

Source: Daily_Mail