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Celtic midfielder Neil Lennon
"He [Giggs] has had a fantastic career"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 1 August, 2001, 19:47 GMT 20:47 UK
Celtic too strong for Man Utd
Ryan Giggs takes on Jackie McNamara
Giggs did not have a happy testimonial
Ryan Giggs testimonial
Manchester United 3-4 Celtic

Celtic proved too strong for Manchester United in Ryan Giggs' testimonial match at Old Trafford, which featured a brief return by Eric Cantona.

The Frenchman came on for Paul Scholes after 73 minutes, but could not provide a fairytale ending for the match.

United's goals came from their two record summer signings, with Ruud van Nistelrooy grabbing two and Juan Sebastian Veron one - but Celtic held on despite heavy pressure to take a 4-3 win.

The Scottish champions were two up after three minutes, and even though Van Nistelrooy pulled one back after 23 minutes, Celtic went in at half-time 3-1 up.

Neil Lennon, Jackie McNamara and Henrik Larsson of Celtic
Lennon, McNamara and Larsson celebrate the second goal
Chris Sutton, Neil Lennon and Paul Lambert were the scorers.

Veron pulled another one back with a spectacular 30-yard shot in the second half, but again Celtic got one back immediately.

Then with just over 10 minutes to go, Van Nistelrooy added a second to make it 4-3, the last goal of an eventful night.

Most of the United players had stepped off a 13-hour flight from Thailand a little more than 24 hours before and it showed in their play in the first few minutes.

It was an occasionally bad-tempered match, belying its status as a friendly meant to honour one of United's longest-serving players.

Manchester United had the majority of the play, but Celtic scored from all of their chances in the first half, while United found it hard to break a wall of green-and-white shirts in the Scottish defence.

Early shock

Celtic got off to the best possible start.

With just 70 seconds gone, Didier Agathe beat Phil Neville on the right wing and his cross found Chris Sutton, who gave Fabien Barthez no chance.

No more than a minute later, Neil Lennon pounced on a pass from Veron, and played a one-two with Henrik Larsson before slotting the ball past Barthez.

After their early shock, though, it did not take United long to win the majority of the play. And after 25 minutes Van Nistelrooy scored his first goal at Old Trafford.

United's defence in a mess

Roy Keane won the ball in midfield and played a great ball to Paul Scholes, who flicked the Dutchman clear to slip the ball past Celtic goalkeeper Dmitri Kharine.

But no more than two minutes later Celtic again had a two-goal lead.

United's defence made a mess of things on the edge of the penalty area, and Larsson passed to Paul Lambert in space 20 yards out. His low-struck shot beat Barthez in the bottom left-hand corner.

United again had the better of the second half, and Veron brought United back to within one goal of Celtic with a stunning strike from 30 yards out after 63 minutes.

He played himself into space and launched a fast, swerving shot into the top left-hander corner.

But again Celtic stretched ahead, when Lubomir Moravcik blasted a free-kick past Barthez.

Van Nistelrooy broke free and smashed a shot past reserve keeper Jonathan Gould to bring United back to within shouting distance with a little over 10 minutes left, but the home side could not stop Giggs' big night ending in defeat.

Manchester United: Barthez, Irwin, Stam, G Neville, P Neville, Keane, Beckham, Veron, Giggs, Scholes, Van Nistelrooy,

Celtic: Kharine, McNamara, Mjallby, Tebily, Boyd, Agathe, Lennon, Lambert, Petta, Larsson, Sutton.

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Cantona plays for Man Utd
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