Manchester United eased their way into today’s UEFA Champions League qualifying draw in Monaco, with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Dinamo Bucharest at Old Trafford last night.
Sir Alex Ferguson had to field an inexperienced team after Roy Keane joined United’s ever-increasing injury list with cracked ribs. Youngsters Jonathan Spector, Chris Eagles and Christiano Ronaldo all started and showed promise in what was a routine victory.
All of United’s goals came in the second half after a low-key first period. Alan Smith scored twice in five minutes to effectively seal the tie for the hosts.
His first came on 47 minutes when he tapped home from two yards after a Kleberson free kick had deflected off Cristian Irimia.
He only had to wait three minutes for his and United’s second when the Dinamo defence failed to clear Gary Neville’s low cross and Smith was able to drill the ball past goalkeeper Cristian Munteanu.
Smith received a standing ovation from United’s faithful after he was replaced with David Bellion. The young Frenchman added a third on 70 minutes.
The striker exposed some awful defending by Gheorghe Lordache to run onto Spector’s long ball and drill a right-footed finish wide of Munteanu’s desperate dive and into the net.
United’s boss was pleased with the win especially as senior players Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs were not required from the bench. He was particularly pleased with his team’s defensive display.
He said: “I think the foundations were laid with the performance at the back. I thought Mikael Silvestre in particular was fantastic.”
Ferguson also praised his young players and new summer signing Smith.
“There is every chance that the younger players can play an important part this season,” said United’s boss.
“They are developing players and this club has a tradition to bring on its own at times. Some of them tonight have done very well tonight.”
With qualification firmly in the bag, United are guaranteed a £16m windfall. The money may go to help their pursuit on England’s Wayne Rooney.
Rangers crashed out of the tournament as they drew 1-1 with CSKA Moscow at Ibrox last night.
The Russians won the first leg 2-1 and knew that avoiding defeat would put them into the draw.
But the Glasgow team controversially had a goal disallowed. Nacho Novo thought he put the hosts in front on 42 minutes, but later found that play had been whistled back because of a foul on him.
The 49, 010-crowd vented their anger at referee Wolfgang Stark at the half-time whistle and were frustrated further on 61 minutes when CSKA took the lead.
Silva Vagner Love broke Scottish hearts when he bundled home Ivica Olic’s pass from close range.
Rangers pressed for a goal and got one on 88 minutes when Steve Thompson smashed home from the edge of the box, but it was too little too late.
Gers’ boss, Alex McLeish, remained upbeat after the defeat and questioned the decision to disallow Novo’s goal.
He said: “It would have been nice to see the referee keep his whistle out of his mouth for another couple of seconds. But he didn’t and it might have made a difference.”
Rangers will now go into the UEFA Cup draw.
European heavyweights Real Madrid disposed of Wisla Krakow of Poland with a 3-1 win at the Bernabeu last night.
Real wrapped a 5-1 aggregate victory over the minnows thanks to two goals from Brazilian Ronaldo.
The star striker opened his account after 3 minutes when he converted Luis Figo’s right sided cross from the far post. Half an hour later, he doubled his and Real’s tally when he latched onto Michel Salgado’s cross.
The hosts then put on the style knowing that the tie was almost in the bag. They added a third on 85 minutes when Francisco Pavon headed home a corner at the near post.
But the visitors snatched a consolation on the stroke of full time, when Damien Gorawski’s strike from the edge of the box went in off the post.
Madrid coach, Jose Camacho, was unable to field ineligible summer signings Michael Owen and Jonathan Woodgate. But the new boss was delighted with his team’s progress to the group stages.
He said: “I am happy with the team’s performance and glad we will proceed to the Champions League like we should. I played a strong team who can win trophies this year.”
Italian giants Juventus also progressed into the group stages with an emphatic 4-1 display away to Djurgardens in Sweden.
The Italians were heavily criticised after the first leg, when they whimpered to a shock 2-2 draw. But the win ensured that Juve cruise into the draw with a 6-3 aggregate victory.
Alessandro Del Piero got the match off to a flying start for the Turn outfit after ten minutes when he slotted home Ruben Olivera’s pass.
But ten minutes later, the hosts were level after good work from Tobias Hysen was rewarded when Johan Arneng drove his lay off home from 30 yards.
But just when Juve thought it was going to be one of those nights, they restored their lead on 35 minutes. David Trezeguet latched onto a defensive error by Toni Kuivasto and drilled home from mid-range.
The Bianconeri upped the tempo in the second half and Pavel Nedved effectively sealed the tie on 54 minutes when he danced through Djurgarden’s static defence after a Del Piero free kick.
Trezeguet guaranteed the win with a late goal on 84 minutes to make it 4-1.
Elsewhere in the qualifiers, PSV Eindhoven thrashed Crvena Zvezda 5-0 at the Phillips stadium – overturning a 3-2 deficit from the first leg.
Two goals from Mark Van Bommell on 9 and 56 minutes helped the home side to victory.
Damarcus Beasley had added one in between Van Bommell’s efforts on 32 minutes and John De Jong pounced on 58 minutes.
The rout was complete on 80 minutes when Jan Vennegoor of Hasselink punished some wayward defending.
Dynamo Kiev also overturned a first leg deficit when they beat Trabzonspor of Turkey 2-0 away from home.
The Ukrainians lost the first leg 2-1 in front of their own fans but this win ensured them of qualification with a 3-2 aggregate victory.
Goran Gavrancic levelled the aggregate scores on seven minutes and Diego Rincon gave them the advantage on the half-hour.
Kiev were pegged on the back foot in the second half after Rodolfo was sent off on 47 minutes for a second bookable offence. But the visitors held on with a dogged defensive display and will join Europe’s elite in the draw.
Fellow Ukrainians Shaktar Donetsk also qualified after a hard fought 2-2 draw against FC Bruges in Brussels. The result on the night was enough for Shaktar who go through 6-3 on aggregate.
They took the lead after five minutes through Zvonomir Vukic but a double strike by Nastja Ceh on 14 and 35 minutes restored belief in the team from the Belgian capital.
But Vukic added his and Shaktar’s second on 53 minutes and there was no way back for the home side.
Maccabi Tel-Aviv qualified for the group stages for the first time in history with a 1-0 home win against PAOK Salonika. They win the tie 4-0 and go into today’s draw.
A single goal by Liran Cohen was enough to heap misery on the Greeks and send the home crowd delirious.
Bayern Leverkeusen lost the match but won the tie as they fell 2-1 away to Banik Ostrava. But the German side were 5-0 ahead from the first leg and could afford the defeat.
Michael Papadopulos put the home side in the lead on 38 minutes before German international, Dimitar Berbatov, levelled on 76 minutes.
Libor Zurek scored eight minutes from the final whistle to earn Banik a victory on the night.
An extra time winner on 113 minutes from Jiri Homola put Sparta Prague into the draw with a 2-1 aggregate victory against Ferencvaros of Hungary.
Lukas Zelenka had cancelled out the visitors 1-0 advantage on the stroke of half time and the Czech team forced extra-time and stole a place in the draw.