CFR CLUJ 1, MANCHESTER UNITED 2
Robin van Persie helped Manchester United avoid a Transylvanian horror story as they triumphed in Romania against CFR Cluj.
The Dutchman’s double made it seven goals in seven starts for the Reds who maintained their 100-per-cent record in their Champions League group.
And significantly this was the first time van Persie and Wayne Rooney were paired together. However, there was a more withdrawn role for Rooney who operated behind van Persie and Javier Hernandes.
Sir Alex Ferguson saluted former Arsenal striker van Persie who only completed a £24 million transfer on the eve of the new season believing he can get even better.
He explained: “Robin has done very well, especially as he had no pre-season and only played 20 minutes for Arsenal in Hamburg.
“He is six games behind the rest of the players so it has been a marvellous start.”
Van Persie, himself, is pleased how he has settled.
He said: “I am on the way, but I would like more assists.
“I have scored seven goals and it is about winning, but I would like more assists.
“I want to improve. It has been a good start, but it can be better.”
Ferguson was pleased to come away from Romania with a win after his side was again forced to come from behind after conceding an early goal.
But the win came at a price as another defensive injury crisis is looming in the run-up to their Barclays Premier League match at Newcastle United on Sunday as Johnny Evans was taken off late on.
“It’s never easy to go away in Europe and Cluj have a good home record here.” said Ferguson.
“The strength of our squad is in the attacking positions.”
“I was pleased with our possession and our concentration tonight and, apart from the goal, we defended well.”
The shakiness in defence may have been present again but the first pairing of Rooney and Van Persie from the start saw the dynamic duo pull United back into the game and produce a quality winner too.
Ferguson continued: “Obviously losing a goal away from home is never easy wherever you are and we had to dig deep to get back.”
“We were a bit lucky with the first goal that came back off van Persie’s shoulder. I think at that period of the game we were dominating.”
“I think the second goal was absolutely fantastic. It was a good ball from Wayne although I thought his pass was hit too far in front of Robin but he did well to get to it and his deftness of touch was fantastic.”
Cluj’s Sougou had caused Patrice Evra a headache in the first half with his penetrating runs down United’s left flank. One such run ended with Evra losing his man and Pantelis Kapetanos converting the inevitable cross after 14 minutes. The Frenchman will have been pleased to see the Senegalese winger limp of after just 23 minutes.
The equaliser involved a huge slice off luck as Rooney’s cross went in off van Persie’s shoulder but there was a touch of class for the Dutchman’s second half winner soon after the restart when he flicked Rooney’s through ball past Mario Felgueiras in the Cluj goal.
Darren Fletcher, called up to the Scotland squad this week, made a welcome return to the United midfield but Ferguson will have been concerned to see Evans limp off in the 79th minute.
United’s defensive troubles are well documented but, despite fielding youngster Scott Wootton for the last 11 minutes, United weren’t overly troubled by Cluj in the second half as they saw out the match.