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 Match Information 
 2015-09-30 (19:45) (ECup)  Manchester United 2–1 Wolfsburg
  Venue: Old Trafford (74811)
  Goals: Mata1(pen); Smalling1 
  Lineup: De Gea  Valencia  Smalling  Blind  Darmian  Scheiderlin  Schweinsteiger  Mata  Rooney  Depay  Martial 


Manchester United 2-1 VfL Wolfsburg
Posted by   Bill   on   2015-10-01 @ 19:58:47 -0600

Man Utd 2-1 VfL Wolfsburg

Mata 34′ (pen) Smalling 53′
Caligiuri 4′

FT 90 +4
HT 1-1

Premier League leaders Manchester United earned their first win of the Champions League group stage as they came from behind to beat Wolfsburg.

With Chelsea and Arsenal losing in the competition on Tuesday, United were in danger of going the same way when Daniel Caligiuri finished off a six-pass move for the opener.

But Juan Mata levelled from the spot, after Caligiuri handled.

Mata then flicked through for Chris Smalling to slide in the winner.

The Bundesliga side went close to an equaliser when former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner saw a close-range shot hit Wayne Rooney.

All four teams in Group B are now on three points after CSKA Moscow beat United's opening-day conquerors PSV Eindhoven in Russia.

Relive Wednesday's Champions League action here
5 live's Football Daily podcast: Champions League reaction, analysis & debate

Are United realistic Champions League winners?

Manager Louis van Gaal was adamant United have a "realistic" chance of winning the competition, when asked earlier this week.

They last won the Champions League in 2008 and lost in the final in 2009 and 2011, while Van Gaal won the competition with Ajax in 1995.

The way United were cut open for Wolfsburg's opener - with stand-in right-back Antonio Valencia playing Caligiuri onside - was not the defending of champions.

But the hosts showed plenty of quality from thereon in as they took the game to their counter-attacking opponents, creating numerous good chances and deservedly turning the match around.

Against a Wolfsburg side packed with ability, United grew nervy late on and will know they will have to see out games better if they are to go deep into this competition.

A new Old Trafford hero?

Anthony Martial failed to score in his seven Champions League matches for Monaco last season.

But there was no lack of confidence on show as the 19-year-old's direct style and skill posed Wolfsburg's defence problems throughout.

The £36m summer signing had scored four goals in his first five matches for United, and he went close with a couple of individual efforts in the opening half against Wolfsburg.

He also created a golden opportunity for Rooney - running to the byeline and crossing low for the England striker to prod over - before being denied by goalkeeper Diego Benaglio after another direct run late on.

Experience can prove crucial

A few eyebrows were raised when Van Gaal signed Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger in summer, but the 31-year-old's experience could be key for a relatively young United side.

The German was always available to take possession and had more touches and made more passes than any other player on the field before he was substituted on 70 minutes.

It was no coincidence that without the calming influence of Schweinsteiger in the middle, Wolfsburg grew into the game in the last 20 minutes as United struggled to keep the ball.

Man of the match: Chris Smalling

What the manager said

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal: "It was very difficult because they scored so early. Then we did very well, we created a lot of chances. We don't finish it and it was a lucky penalty I think.

"Of course it is a penalty but there are some referees not whistling for that. We have created many more chances - Rooney and Depay could have scored and you finish the game.

"Then we score and after that it was suffering. A lot of players are very tired, but we didn't give much away. How many chances have we given away? Maybe one."

The stats you need to know

Juan Mata scored his first Champions League goal since December 2012
Mata has been involved in 14 goals (8 scored, 5 assisted) in his past 21 games for Manchester United.
United have not kept a clean sheet at home in their past six home games against German sides.
Wolfsburg have only failed to score once in eight Champions League group games.
Bayern Munich were the last German team to beat Manchester Utd at Old Trafford in the Champions League. It was in April 2001.

Lineup, Bookings (5) & Substitutions (6)
Manchester United

01 de Gea
25 A Valencia (Young - 45' Booked )
12 Smalling
17 Blind
36 Darmian
28 Schneiderlin Booked
31 Schweinsteiger Booked (Jones - 72' )
08 Mata
10 Rooney
07 Depay Booked (Pereira - 62' )
09 Martial


04 Jones
18 Young
19 Wilson
20 Romero
27 Fellaini
33 McNair
44 Pereira

VfL Wolfsburg

01 Benaglio
15 Träsch (Jung - 77' )
25 Aparecido Rodrigues
18 Dante
34 Rodríguez
10 Draxler
23 Guilavogui
27 Arnold (Schürrle - 70' )
07 Caligiuri Booked
11 Kruse
12 Dost (Bendtner - 70' )


03 Bendtner
04 Schäfer
05 Klose
17 Schürrle
20 Grün
24 Jung
30 Seguin

Ref: Viktor Kassai
Att: 74,811

Beep beep’m beep beep yeah
Posted by   PaulJ   on   2015-10-11 @ 11:15:59 -0600

Champions League Football;
Strange referees, clock watching.
Who’d be without it?

The city of Wolfsburg was founded under the Nazis in 1938 to house the car workers building the Beetle; their works football team played in the state league during the war. A new club, VSK, was formed in 1945 in a ruined Germany but soon all the players defected to 1 FC Wolfsburg except Josef Meyer who, undaunted, found new team mates to form Verein für Leibesübungen (Exercise Club). Within a year they took Volkswagen sponsorship; now they are a wholly owned subsidiary of the car company. Their rise on the football field was slower at first; they only reached the 2 Bundesliga in 1992, but thereafter the German Cup final in 1995 and promotion to the top flight of the Bundesliga in 1997. Despite predictions that their stay might be a short one they qualified for the UEFA Cup in 1999 and at the start of this century regularly for the Intertoto Cup. Under former Bayern manager Felix Magath, hired in 2007, they took the Bundesliga title in 2009. Last season’s runners-up and German Cup winners, Wolfsburg are currently fourth in the Bundesliga.

Given the European results for English clubs this year the first ten minutes of this match seemed to emphasise the superiority of the Bundesliga. Even our best early moves were down to Bastian Schweinsteiger. Six years ago on Wolfsburg’s previous visit we had also struggled but that night we survived the early assault because they missed a sitter and were denied a penalty by referee Viktor Kassai and we recovered from an Edin Džeko goal thanks to Ryan Giggs particularly, and Michael Carrick. Mr Kassai was again the referee (they bring him in a suitcase) but this time we went behind before he had a penalty decision to make. Daniel Caligiuri came up the right wing, brushed off Morgan Schneiderlin, drew Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian. No-one followed as he slipped the pass to Max Kruse and ran for the return and he had only to stay calm and pick his spot as David de Gea tried desperately to cover the whole goal. It looked ominously smooth; 4 minutes 0-1.

Surely, one hoped, they would wish to show remorse for the emissions scandal overtaking their parent company. They brought fewer supporters than many; everybody else was back in the fatherland fixing the fraud, but remorse? They strutted the turf. Our play was pedestrian by comparison. A six and a half hour journey with a navigation system guiding me from traffic jam to traffic jam; a foul tandoori fowl in Rusholme and now we were the ones being humbled; humph. We looked dangerous, though, when we stopped being cautious; Darmian went round his man on the overlap and crossed to Juan Mata whose drive would have curled inside the far post had not the infernal Dante launched himself into a saving header. Schweinsteiger was battling away but players were not running and for a while the momentum was lost. When the impressive Julian Draxler broke, however, Chris Smalling’s defending was solid, when Maximilian Arnold shot up the left wing and delivered a wicked cross, Darmian cleared it spectacularly from Bas Dost in the goalmouth.

Yet this heralded our best attacking of the match. Anthony Martial took Wayne Rooney’s ball on the right wing and dribbled along the bye line, finding Rooney unmarked ten yards out; all he had to do was get it on target. Schweinsteiger won the ball with an enforcer’s tackle; Mata delivered a superb pass which Memphis Depay met with a diving header but straight at the goalkeeper. As our purple patch continued Mata crossed the ball from the corner of the area and Caligiuri jumped with a limp arm held aloft. Mr Kassai thought about it before pointing to the spot. Diego Benaglio fell for the disguise and flung himself to his left but it would not have mattered for Mata’s shot shaved the inside of the post, thus ensuring that Louis van Gaal will one day let him take another penalty; 34 minutes 1-1.

Mr Kassai spent the rest of the night trying to make up for his decision. Maximilian Arnold made Mata pay, kicking him at the next opportunity. Dante caught Martial deliberately. Neither was booked. Schneiderlin’s tackle on Arnold was not even a foul; the yellow card was a disgrace though he was running a risk with the manner in which he informed the referee of this view. When Schneiderlin was allowed to win the ball Mata beat Arnold and Naldo and delivered yet another great pass for Memphis at the spot from where he and Rooney had already missed; he drove this one straight at the goalkeeper too and hit the rebound in a hurry instead of slipping it sideways.

Ashley Young had replaced Antonio Valencia when the team took to the field after the interval. He began with a good tackle but soon Caligiuri had scooted round him, he had wasted possession with a huge Sam Allardyce pass and just as we were wondering about his credentials at full back to play against such well drilled opponents he had helped win us the match. He picked up the clearance from Memphis’ corner kick, dribbled it wide, made light of a foul challenge by Kruse and put in the cross. This clearance fell to Schweinsteiger, whose miscue came to earth just outside the area for Mata to execute an exquisite back heel flick. Smalling burst through the back line and stretched a leg to turn the chip across the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner of the net; 53 minutes 2-1.

When our centre backs went missing it was Young, too, who went across to take on the responsibility; Caligiuri rounded him that time for de Gea to make a fine, diving save but when Caligiuri tried to beat him in his proper position, Young proved up to the task. It had seemed embarrassing when announcer Alan Kennedy had pronounced the German’s name as Christian Trash; he would not have dared to describe a Muslim in such a way but had he done his homework on the lad? Träsch successfully contained our counter-attack by pretending that Memphis’ waving finger had not just brushed his shoulder but given him a near fatal blow in the face. Memphis managed a wistful smile as he received a farcical booking. Golden boy Draxler, by contrast, did not even get a wigging for a tripping Schweinsteiger.

Van Gaal had replaced Memphis with Andreas Pereira and Dieter Hecking sent on André Schürrle (one goal in twenty nine appearances since they paid Chelsea a huge fee for him) and Nicklas Bendtner (who was for so long guaranteed to miss chances for Arsenal). Manchester City had helped us greatly by buying Wolfsburg goal scoring star Kevin de Bruyne just before the transfer deadline. Schürrle turned Blind this way and that in the area before rolling his shot wide of the far post. With Carrick injured we unaccountably surrendered the midfield by replacing Schweinsteiger with Phil Jones; now the only outlet was Martial’s running. Caligiuri’s excellent tackle halted the first such break; Josuha Guilavogui’s cynical tug killed off the next; needless to say, there was no yellow card.

Our goal and our subsequent retreat inspired Wolfsburg to rediscover their composure. Jones made an important tackle on Kruse and then cut out Schürrle’s cross. When Draxler went past Mata on the right, Bendtner’s miskick span to Dante but Rooney was on the goal line to do something useful. Young was booked for hesitating over taking a throw, Martial and Smalling penalised for non-events; it was as if they had the referee as a twelfth man and we had to keep reminding each other that he had awarded us a vital penalty. A free kick taken by Ricardo Rodriguez went uncomfortably close to de Gea’s post but we began to produce the occasional slick breakaway between hoofed clearances. Rooney to Mata, crossfield to Young, a Martial cross fortuitously deflected. A break which ended with Martial unable to convert Rooney’s cross. Mr Kassai received a standing ovation for awarding us a free kick but sarcasm is probably lost on Hungarian referees. At the last when Smalling, who had had a splendid night, was chopped to the floor by Bendtner, Mr Kassai ducked the issue by blowing for time.

We have played sixteen competitive matches and a friendly against German sides at home and lost only twice, both one-nil; Lars Ricken’s early goal for Borussia Dortmund in the 1997 Champions league semi-final and Paulo Sergio’s late one for Bayern Munich in the quarter final of 2001. This had been a fine match but we needed this result.

Paul Andrew James


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