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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 February, 2003, 00:47 GMT
Beckham cuts Juventus apart
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

David Beckham
Beckham played with two plasters above his eye

David Beckham put the controversy of "Scar Wars" behind him as he helped Manchester United inflict more conventional football wounds on Juventus.

It was predictable that Beckham - after days in the spotlight after he was injured by flying footwear fired by a furious Sir Alex Ferguson - would revel in the Champions League spotlight.

And if Beckham was in danger of suffering more injuries in the inner sanctum of Manchester United's dressing room, it would have been via a bearhug from a delighted manager.

Beckham's performance shone in an uncertain United show before they ran out 2-1 winners against an illness-hit but still dangerous Juve.

England's captain knew every eye and every lens would be trained on each move he made - and he did not disappoint.

Beckham was on the mark from the moment his fourth-minute corner found the head of Wes Brown, who scored his first goal in 111 appearances for the club.

And he continued to probe, despite United's struggles and the typically close attentions of a resilient Juve rearguard.


Beckham's inspiration came at the price of a head-first skid along the turf into advertising hoardings following a first half shove, and a lengthy period on the turf after a heavy challenge late on.

But if Beckham was determined to deliver a statement of defiance and intent, he spoke loudly and in volumes.

For all Beckham's flirtations with publicity, good and bad, the place where he is most at home is on the football pitch.

And he demonstrated this again in some style as his range of passing gave United their best release from pressure and their most hopeful outlet to attack.

He was combative when needed and played in a fashion that suggested he was out to make a point - even to his autocratic manager if necessary.

Beckham provided the pass of pedigree that set up Ruud van Nistelrooy for the second that snuffed out Juve's brave resistance.

Civil war

Ferguson was in more restrained mood at the final whistle, offering praise to Beckham as opposed to a flying football boot.

United needed a victory, and a crucial contribution from Beckham, to put the trauma of the previous 72 hours to bed.

Beckham delivered, and in doing so gave United the result they needed and the shield they required against any further suggestions of civil war raging inside The Theatre of Dreams.

In much the same way as Beckham did nothing to disguise the damage his manager's wayward target practice had inflicted on him, he made no attempt to hide his talent.

David Beckham, as far as United is concerned, remains a cut above the rest.

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19 Feb 03 |  Champions League
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19 Feb 03 |  Champions League
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