Besiktas 0 – 1 Manchester United
GOALS: Paul Scholes (76 mins)
Besiktas: Arkan, Kas, Slvok, Nobre, Tabata, Dag, Uzulmez, Ozkan, Holosko, Ferrari, Ernst
Subs: Simsek for Ozkan (58 mins) Tello for Tabata (68 mins), Kahveci for Holosko (83 mins)
Man United: Foster, Neville, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Anderson, Nani, Rooney.
Subs: Owen for Rooney, Berbatov for Carrick (63 mins), JS Park for Valencia (83 mins)
ANOTHER European trek and another trip to Turkey, long gone the days of the “hell” of Galatasaray, instead the cauldron of Besiktas awaited Manchester United. It has been a long wait to get over the hurt caused by Barcelona in last year’s final but Istanbul was the venue, Besiktas the team and victory, the hope and expectation. Ben Foster continued in goal, Gary Neville came in to captain the side and feature in his 111th European game. Johnny Evans returns alongside Vidic as Rio Ferdinand missed out due to injury. The last time this back four started for United was against Wigan Athletic. With five in midfield at kick off there was a start for Anderson, rewarded for his performance against Spurs. Antonio Valencia made his European debut and Wayne Rooney had a solo role up front but as we know, in the European mindset, the players can be somewhat fluid in their position on the field.
Searching for words to describe the action in Istanbul has been a challenge that anyone who saw the game should understand. In search of inspiration we looked around the media world to see if they had a different view; our own was looking something descriptive of a solid, professional performance with enough to win, nothing given away and a swift return to Manchester.
Eurosport gave Manchester United credit for overcoming the hostile crowd and delivering a win in “polished style”, the Mirror says that “the win itself was fairly routine”. Our friends at MEN and Sir Alex himself drew on the concentration needed to pass the Turkish test. Concentration, yes that’s it, and boy did it take plenty of that to watch the game unfold.
It has to be said that the home support were incredible even if the play on the pitch was not. The Besiktas players set about introducing themselves to the visiting team, Sivok received a yellow card for clattering into Wayne Rooney but the first half looked set to dissolve into nothing but United possession looking pretty and home fans whistling when the Red Devils’ had the ball. Besiktas did look up to blocking off any United route to goal but Michael Carrick managed a shot and a Nani corner seemed to trouble them. Besiktas had their moments going forward too, Ozkan made the most of space and sent a shot towards Foster, it was deflected off Johnny Evans on route but it showed United that they needed to keep their concentration at both ends of the pitch.
Towards the end of the first half Patrice Evra needed treatment after being taken down and the free kick that followed from Nani impressed no-one. The home side were certainly sticking to their task and keeping Manchester United at bay, it may not have been pretty but at this point it was effective.
United fans in the second half could be forgiven for asking the almighty Eric for guidance, some of us had two-fold demands. Firstly, that United would eventually find their way through and give us a goal to wake us cheer. Secondly, that Besiktas did not grow so much in confidence at the length of time it was taking us to break them down, and inevitably sneak the important goal for themselves when it was too late for us to reply.
Ben Foster remained calm when Besiktas did threaten and Wayne Rooney did not like being removed from our threat against them. The striker left the pitch in an interesting fashion but from his point of view we are sure it was far from a strop, more in the way of wanting to be on the pitch to try and continue his scoring form.
Thankfully, United did make the breakthrough. Valencia found Michael Owen who returned the ball to the winger, who then spread the ball across to Nani. Nani had the shot and as the ball was palmed away by the ‘keeper, Paul Scholes was on hand to nod the ball into the net. Sent off at weekend, quiet for much of the evening in Istanbul but when we needed someone to make the difference, it was he that did so.
That’s pretty much all she wrote, no cheap connections to “Turkish Delight” or any word play on a few Besiktas players charging around like Istanbul in a China shop.
Just firm handshakes to the professional performance from the United boys, Antonio Valencia, Ben Foster and Paul Scholes should give themselves pats on the back. Michael Owen should have scored late on.
Last one on the plane’s a Citeh player! GtS