Manchester United 1 Galatasaray 0

Manchester United 1 Galatasaray 0: Carrick goal enough to hand shaky Reds opening win

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UPDATED:

21:11 GMT, 19 September 2012

Darren Fletcher returned from his career-threatening bowel condition as Manchester United scrambled to an unconvincing Champions League win over Galatasaray at Old Trafford.

It was the Scot's first appearance since November 22, although he had been battling against the problem for eight months before that.

At one stage, Sir Alex Ferguson admitted he feared whether Fletcher would ever resume his career.

Round he goes: Michael Carrick kept his composure to take his goal

Round he goes: Michael Carrick kept his composure to take his goal

MATCH FACTS

Manchester United: De Gea, Da Silva, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Scholes (Fletcher 79min), Nani, Kagawa (Welbeck 84min), van Persie (Hernandez 81min)

Substitutes not used: Lindegaard, Ferdinand, Anderson, Cleverley.

Goals: Carrick 7

Galatasaray: Muslera, Eboue, Nounkeu, Kaya, Balta, Altintop, Felipe Melo (Aydin Yilmaz), Inan, Amrabat (Colak 63min), Burak Yilmaz, Bulut (Elmander 15min).

Substitutes not used: Ceylan, Cris, Riera, Baytar.

Referee: Wolfgang Stark (Germany)

Attendance: 74,653

Fletcher's arrival for Paul Scholes 11
minutes from time brought a deserved standing ovation, and was one of
the few high points of a difficult evening for the hosts, who collected
the victory but little else of note.

Michael Carrick's first Champions
League goal in three years after just seven minutes proved enough, with
United missing yet another penalty, their third of the season, through
Nani.

Galatasaray were desperately unlucky,
failing to get a clear penalty before United struck, hitting the
woodwork twice before being denied by David de Gea's excellent double
save and then having another spot-kick claim waved away in stoppage
time.

Such was the significance of
Fletcher's presence on the United bench that it even overshadowed Robin
van Persie and Shinji Kagawa both being given their European debuts.

Both were involved in Carrick's early opener.

Initially, Van Persie threaded a pass
through to the midfielder. It was Kagawa who got the main credit though,
slipping a return pass beyond the visitors' defence. Carrick stepped
inside goalkeeper Fernando Musiera and even though the goalkeeper
tripped him, the England man was able to steer the ball in.

Get in there: Carrick celebrated his rare goal with team-mate Robin van Persie

Get in there: Carrick celebrated his rare goal with team-mate Robin van Persie

Oh dear: Nani missed a penalty which would have doubled United's lead

Oh dear: Nani missed a penalty which would have doubled United's lead

The incident did beg the question of
inconsistencies within the rules. Had Carrick fallen for the penalty,
Musiera would have been sent off and Galatasaray's position
substantially weakened.

As it was, whilst a goal down, they were also able to mount a comeback bid.

Mind you, the Turkish champions already had cause to grumble.

Sold short by Patrice Evra's lay-off, Nemanja Vidic lunged in on Umut Bulut.

Referee Wolfgang Stark might not have
seen the clear foul. There was no excuse for the goal-line assistant
missing it. Yet somehow Vidic, and United, escaped.

Galatasaray's response to falling
behind was for Nordin Amrabat to clip the crossbar with a curling shot
from the edge of the area that gave returning keeper de Gea no chance.

It was not the last time Galatasaray
struck the woodwork – Hamit Altintop was the unlucky man second time
around after a free-kick had been rolled into his path. Again De Gea was
rooted to the spot, thankful to see the ball flick wide of his
left-hand post.

Having called for defensive solidity, Ferguson, who brought in Jonny Evans for Rio Ferdinand, could not have been happy.

His side were not creating that much at the other end either.

Emmanuel Eboue did prevent former Arsenal team-mate Van Persie from turning Antonio Valencia's low cross home at the far post.

Tricky: Shinji Kagawa drifted into the spaces in front of Galatasaray's defence

Tricky: Shinji Kagawa drifted into the spaces in front of Galatasaray's defence

Close one: Hamit Altintop clipped the post as he went close to David de Gea's goal

Close one: Hamit Altintop clipped the post as he went close to David de Gea's goal

Largely though, United's patient build-up broke down before they got within shooting distance.

In contrast, Altintop was almost Cristiano Ronaldo-esque in his desire to pepper De Gea's goal.

The shot that fizzed wide not long
after the restart was his fifth, only two less than United had mustered
as an entire team up to that point.

There then followed the third instalment of United's penalty embarrassment.

After failures from Van Persie and Javier Hernandez already this season, Nani exuded confidence.

Until it actually came to striking the
ball that is. After a little shimmy, the Portugal winger seemed to
freeze, and Musiera saved to his right.

Remember me Emmanuel Eboue returned to Old Trafford after leaving Arsenal last summer

Remember me Emmanuel Eboue returned to Old Trafford after leaving Arsenal last summer

Tough tackle: Felipe Melo dives in to steal the ball from Nani

Tough tackle: Felipe Melo dives in to steal the ball from Nani

In it goes: Kagawa slid Carrick through on goal for his chance

In it goes: Kagawa slid Carrick through on goal for his chance

Galatasaray took it as the cue to
launch another counter and this time Selcuk Inan guided his header
marginally wide of the far post.

It was not convincing in the least,
yet United's narrow advantage was almost turned into a winning one when
Patrice Evra surged forward and saw his shot flick narrowly wide.

From the corner, United quickly lost possession as Nani appealed in vain for another spot-kick.

Galatasaray sped to the other end and
De Gea, of whom so much is being asked, came to United's rescue with a
superb double save, first to deny Burak Yilmaz, then Emre Colak, who
seemed certain to finish off the rebound.

Rather than being eased in as Ferguson
doubtless hoped, Fletcher's battling qualities were a necessity for the
latter stages as United managed to keep their opponents at bay.

It was never comfortable though, with
substitute Javier Hernandez failing to capitalise on a couple of late
opportunities before Aydin Yilmaz had another spot-kick claim waved
away.

Back in the game: Darren Fletcher replaced Paul Scholes in the 79th minute for United

Back in the game: Darren Fletcher replaced Paul Scholes in the 79th minute for United

Back in the game: Darren Fletcher replaced Paul Scholes in the 79th minute for United

Back in the game: Darren Fletcher replaced Paul Scholes in the 79th minute for United