Manchester United 2-1 Wolfsburg: The Daily Mirror match report
Published 22:47 30/09/09 By By David McDonnell
It was typical of Ryan Giggs that he was unaware he had just scored his 150th goal for Manchester United.
A player for whom the team is more important than the individual, the historic milestone was brushed away with customary modesty.
"I didn't know it was my 150th goal," said Giggs. "I'm proud to have scored that many but the most important thing was getting back in the game."
Of his ton-and-a-half of goals, last night's will rank a long way down the list in terms of its beauty, a poorly taken free-kick which only found the back of the net via a wicked deflection.
But in terms of significance, like so many Giggs goals before it, the strike provided the platform for a United victory which saw Sir Alex Ferguson's side take command of Group B with maximum points.
There was also a neat symmetry about the goal from Giggs, given that his first for United, scored against Manchester City in 1991, was also converted courtesy of a fortuitous deflection.
But Giggs has certainly earned his fair share of good fortune during his remarkable career, which has spanned two decades and seen him overtake Sir Bobby Charlton with a record 814 United appearances.
Giggs has been United's player of the season thus far and is showing no signs of falling below the standard required at the world's biggest club, despite celebrating his 36th birthday next month.
He was the provider for Michael Carrick's 78th-minute winner last night and it is a measure of his enduring influence that Giggs has been the architect of seven of United's eight goals in his last three games
His greying temples are the only clue to his age, and such is continued hunger and desire there seems little doubt he will be offered a one-year contract this autumn that will keep him at United until 2011.
United went into last night's game on the back of a formiable European record, unbeaten at Old Trafford since their 1-0 defeat to AC Milan back in February 2005, a run stretching over 21 games.
Michael Owen was a surprise starter alongside Wayne Rooney, but he was forced off after 20 minutes with a recurrence of a groin injury which had prevented him from training the previous day.
Owen's early withdrawal was the worst possible news for Fabio Capello, who had made the journey to Old Trafford with the specific intention of watching the striker before naming his England squad on Sunday.
United laboured in the first-half, and when they did managed to create chances, they did not display the necessary conviction in front of the Wolfsburg goal to make the breakthrough.
Anderson, with one goal in 80 United appearances before last night, came close to doubling his tally 10 minutes after the restart. Rooney's clever flick allowed the Brazilian a free shot on goal, but Diego Benaglio produced a world-class save.
It proved a save of huge significance, for Wolfsburg went ahead within 60 seconds. United's defence stood off Makoto Hasebe, allowing him to pick out 6ft 5in striker Edin Dzeko at the far post, his header expertly dispatched.
Conceding the goal jolted United from their curious slumber and they were level four minutes later, the free-kick from Giggs owing everything to the wicked deflection which sent the ball spinning into the net past Benaglio.
And when Carrick applid an assured finish to Giggs' precise lay-off to score with 12 minutes left, victory was United's.
But the night belonged to Giggs, the old relic who is not ready to take his place in the Old Trafford museum just yet.