Having already secured qualification and confirmed group winners two matchdays ago, Manchester United fell to their second loss in a row in the Champions League. Romanian team Cluj defeated United 1-0 at Old Trafford but were still eliminated after Galatasaray beat Braga 2-1.
Cluj came to Old Trafford knowing they had to win their match against the Red Devils in order to have any chance in qualifying into the second round of the Champions League. Sir Alex Ferguson named a slightly stronger side but still made 10 changes to the team that beat Reading at the weekend. United played the match much like they knew that the outcome would have no bearing on their Champions League fortunes. Cluj remained tight at the back and, although never seriously worrying United for much of the match, managed to grab a stunning goal through Luis Alberto in the 56th minute.
Cluj and their fans must have thought they were going to pull off the seemingly impossible by beating United away from from home but Galatasaray had other plans and won their game. Cluj crashed out of the competition in heartbreaking manner as their famous 1-0 victory over United would be in vain. United, although not playing with Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra, or Rafael in defense still looked shaky at times at the back. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones played reasonably well, as did Alexander Buttner but young Scott Wootten at times looked off the pace and a goal, which is all too familiar for the Red Devils this season, was still conceded.
United will advance to the second round of the Champions League as Group H winners but they will have to keep their focus and play better defense if they hope to advance further in the competition. Cluj will take part in the Europa League.
Manchester United: David de Gea; Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Alexander Buttner, Scott Wootten; Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs (Darren Fletcher), Tom Cleverley (Paul Scholes), Nick Powell (Federico Macheda); Chicharito, Danny Welbeck
Cluj: Mario Felgueiras; Ivo Pinto, Felice Piccolo, Cadu, Ionut Rada; Gabriel Muresan, Luis Alberto, Rui Pedro (Matias Aguirregaray), Camora, Modou Sougou (Pantelis Kapetanos); Rafael Bastos (Vasile Maftei)Champions League, Cluj, Luis Alberto, Manchester, Manchester United, Old Trafford, Premier League, Soccer
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