ManU, Chelsea take UEFA wins
Robin van Persie’s brace saw Manchester United come from behind to beat CFR Cluj 2-1 and maintain their perfect start to their UEFA Champions League Group H campaign today.
The Romanian outfit took a 14th minute lead when Pantelis Kapetanos slotted home from Modou Sougou’s cross. But Van Persie drew the Red Devils level just before the half-hour mark when he shouldered in a free-kick from Wayne Rooney, named in the same team as the Dutch ace for the first time.
The summer signing then notched the decisive strike four minutes after the break with a deft finish from Rooney’s chip into the box to take his tally to seven for his new club. The result means back-to-back wins over Braga will take United into the last 16 with two games to spare.
However, Sir Alex Ferguson cannot be entirely happy with this trip to Transylvania, and was left spitting blood as his team fell behind for the sixth time in nine games.
The Scot could not have made his position any clearer either when he delivered his forceful pre-match address last night, “It will be the last”. It was a direct ending to being quizzed about his side’s woeful record of conceding the first goal.
Another English Premier League side was much more convincing. Two goals from Juan Mata helped Chelsea to a 4-0 win over European minnows Nordsjaelland.
David Luiz’s free-kick and Ramires’ late tap-in also helped the defending kings of the continent to victory in Denmark and a first three points of their Group E campaign.
The score-line was a little harsh on Nordsjaelland but their deficiencies were ultimately exposed as their defensive errors and failure to take chances proved costly. Before that, there were as many questions as answers at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen as Chelsea almost let another lead slip two weeks after blowing a two-goal advantage to draw their opening match against Juventus.
Frank Lampard returned to the starting XI for the first time since then, captaining the side in the absence of the rested John Terry.
The 34-year-old cleverly set up Mata’s opener and led the visitors well, although doubts remain over whether he could form an effective midfield shield with either Ramires or John Obi Mikel.
It was almost exactly a year since the first cracks in Lampard’s relationship with former manager Andre Villas-Boas began to emerge after his game time was similarly rationed. But, unlike 12 months ago, there was no visible sign of disaffection from the England star, with Roberto Di Matteo proving a far better diplomat than his predecessor. (Sky)