Owen sends World Cup message to Fabio with stunning United hat-trick

09 December 2009 12:05
Michael Owen fired himself spectacularly into the World Cup reckoning last night as the England striker's first hat-trick in four years secured Manchester United a 3-1 win at Wolfsburg in the Champions League.

Missing 15 first-team players, Sir Alex Ferguson's team pulled off a remarkable victory in Saxony to finish top of Group B and set a new Champions League record of 15 away games without defeat.

But the night was all about Owen, who sent a clear message to England manager Fabio Capello, who has only capped the 29-year-old once in his two seasons in charge.

Leap of faith: Michael Owen scoring his first goal against Wolfsburg

A typically modest Owen said: 'Me getting three goals will probably grab the headlines, but it was a great team performance.

'I was playing deep with us having so many players out and we were trying to protect the back four.'

Owen, who turns 30 next Monday, hopes United will now be handed afavourable tie in the last 16 after progressing as group winners.

Laughing game: Michael Owen is delighted after spurring United to victory

'It's great being top so we play at home second,' Owen added. 'But I'm not going to lie, you want as weak a side as possible.'[But] if a team's got to first or second in the Champions League,there's no weak sides, although you obviously want to avoid the bigboys.'

Manager Ferguson has said already that only consistent performanceswill get Owen into the England squad and give him a chance to add tohis 89 caps.

Hat-trick: Owen leaves Wolfsburg with the match ball

Last night the United manager said: 'First of all, the most important thing is Manchester United.

'As he has proved many times, Michael is one of the best strikers around in terms of his positional play and his finishing.

'Can he have an impact from the start of games? Absolutely. Theevidence is always on the football field and Michael has given plentytonight.

'His training performances have improved steadily and I have never had a problem playing him.

'He is fantastic. You know what he is. He is in the penalty box,making runs across defenders . . . the timing of his runs is fantasticand I am really pleased for him.

'At times this season we have played with a central striker inRooney and three midfielders, but we have played a different systemwith Owen and Danny Welbeck tonight and Michael has proved his worth.

'I am delighted with his performance.'

With midfielders Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Ji-Sung Parkplaying in defence in Germany, United were on the back foot for much ofthe night but took the lead through an Owen header just beforehalf-time and went on to score twice late in the game after Wolfsburghit back through Edin Dzeko.

'There was some pressure on Wolfsburg to get a result and thatsuited us because we could afford to be patient,' added Ferguson.

'They missed two good, early opportunities with headers and that would have made it difficult for us.

'But they are a strong team and they have been unlucky when, goingto win the game, they have been caught on the counter-attack twice.'

United received better news from home yesterday when Ferguson'sstaff told him that defender Nemanja Vidic will be fit for Saturday'sBarclays Premier League game against Aston Villa at Old Trafford.

Predictably, strikers Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov will also be OK.

Ferguson added: 'Vidic we expect to be fit for Saturday. Rooney and Berbatov will both be fit.'

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Source: Daily_Mail

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