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Page last updated at 22:22 GMT, Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Wednesday football as it happened


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Sam Lyon
By Sam Lyon
BBC Sport

2215: And I say we call that a wrap, people. After Man City and Man Utd put themselves in a good position to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League and Cardiff and Blackpool make it a night for the away teams in the Championship, we can look ahead to more European football on the morrow, when Phil Dawkes is back in the house to talk you through the Europa League action, kicked off by Rubin Kazan v Tottenham at 1700 GMT. After that, join me - Sam Lyon - at the weekend for a bumper crop of domestic beauties and a celebration of Sir Alex Ferguson's 25th anniversary as Man Utd boss will you? Good. I'll see you all then. Adios for now my friends, adios.

DanielCurry14 on Twitter: "RE: SoakyDavies - Messi's got 106 goals in his last 102 games for Barca. Ronaldo's good, but Leo's not even human."

Damo in Brighton via text: "Re: 2202 BenjiJordan, he must have missed the Manchester derby last week I guess?!"

mattharding007 on Twitter: "Man City win seven games in a row & Mancini still wants improvement?! What does he expect? He's in danger of deflating his players."

2211: MAN UTD 2-0 OTELUL
Chris Bevan at Old Trafford reports:
"Not the reinvigorating result Old Trafford may have craved after the derby debacle but still job done for Manchester United against a truly limited Otelul side."

Saj Chowdhury reports:
"Well, that was easy for Man City - now it's Napoli in Naples, where a win will guarantee them a place in the knockout stages. Expect Roberto Mancini to go gunning for victory."

2205: Want to know what our match reporters made of things? Of course you do...

BenjiJordan on Twitter: "Until Man City beat a great team, i.e Bayen Munich, I'll remain unimpressed."

2202: Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini on his side's run of seven wins from their last seven matches: "We know in the Champions League anything can happen, but we are going very well and want to improve if possible."

2200: Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson: "Winning was important. Our opponents were very aggressive and defended very well - [but] it's down to us now. If we beat Benfica, we'll win the group. The incentive is fantastic with the history between the clubs. As for Wayne Rooney, it's a short-term thing, him playing in midfield. We are re-organising the middle of the park with so many players missing."

2157: Let's hear from the managers. First up, Sir Alex Ferguson...

snakehipshuxley on Twitter: "Kenny [Dalglish, Liverpool manager] needs to get Shelvey back asap now Stevie Gerrard's out again!"

1954baby via text: "As a neutral, it's nights like this I do miss Spurs."

Salmaan100 on Twitter: "Man City, in a much tougher group, seem to be winning with class. United, with a fairly simple task, seem very troubled."

FOOTBALL LEAGUE: In the Championship, it's been a nightmare for the home sides. Derby drop out of the play-off positions after their heavy 3-0 defeat to Cardiff as the Bluebirds move into 5th place. Leeds manager Simon Grayson, meanwhile, faces a Blackpool side that he left for Elland Road for the first time and it's a game to forget as they suffer an embarrassing 5-0 trouncing. Leeds drop to 10th, Blackpool up to 8th.

2150: Man Utd striker/midfielder Wayne Rooney: "You saw with Chelsea last night that there are no easy games in the Champions League. It's difficult. Either way, I feel I'm a good enough footballer to play anywhere on the pitch. That's not being big-headed. If the manager wants me to play there, I will. As for the goal - it's mine!"

2148: Uefa are apparently in the process of making a decision as to whether Man Utd's second tonight was Wayne Rooney's or an own goal. I mean, I can understand why that need take any longer than five minutes, obviously. Ahem.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: So Bayern's thrilling 3-2 win over Napoli gives City a huge helping hand. If City win in Naples in three weeks they qualify. Simple. Basel's second half equaliser stops Benfica progressing, allowing United to climb into pole position ahead of the Portuguese outfit. But Real Madrid, on the other hand, are already certain of a quarter-final place thanks to Ronaldo's double in Lyon.

2145: Victories of varying degrees of difficulty for Man City and Man Utd, then - but three points are three points, I suppose. City leap up to second in Group A, and crucially above Napoli, with their impressive win at Villarreal, while United go top of Group C on goal difference with their far from convincing defeat of Romanian minnows Otelul. United fans will be happier than on their last visit to Old Trafford, mind, that's for sure.

willkennedy_ on Twitter: "Jonjo Shelvey scoring a hat-trick? What is this madness?!"

Jon in London via text: "Re Vic I can't agree re Rooney and Cleverley in midfield - like both players, but too attacking. At the moment United need their screening player to protect the back four."

scobiedog1 on Twitter: "Deeply unimpressed with United. Evans & Anderson aren't good enough & Berbatov looks like he'd rather be somewhere else."

Full time
2137: FULL-TIME Villarreal 0-3 Man City

2134: FULL-TIME Man Utd 2-0 Otelul

2133: GOALFLASH Ajax 4-0 Dinamo Zagreb (Lodeiro)

2132: Both matches involving the Manchester clubs crawling to a close now, the sting from both games very much drawn.

FOOTBALL LEAGUE: What a night this is turning out to be for the Championship's away teams. Cardiff now lead at Derby 3-0 as Peter Whittingham slots home, and at Elland Road Leeds are 5-0 down against Blackpool, Jonjo Shelvey netting a hat-trick for Ian Holloway's side.

Man Utd goal: A cruel way for Otelul to concede a second - but Wayne Rooney gets his reward for a fine midfield display, albeit with a large helping hand from Cristian Sarghi, the England frontman's speculative 30-yard shot taking a huge deflection off the visiting defender, wrong-footing the keeper, and nestling in the goal. Game over.

2128: GOALFLASH Man Utd 2-0 Otelul (Rooney)

2127: GOALFLASH Inter Milan 2-1 Lille (De Melo)

2126: Into the last five minutes at Old Trafford and Man Utd just about protecting this slender lead. They're heading for the win but this has been far from convining from the hosts.

Vic in London via text: "Rooney has been magnificent tonight! Shame that Anderson has been as bad as Rooney has been good, thereby cancelling him out. Would love to see a Rooney-Cleverley partnership in central midfield!"

2124: It's a training ground exercise - and not a very difficult one at that - for Manchester City in Villarreal right now. The match creeps into the last 10 minutes, and the final whistle can't come quickly enough for the hosts.

SoakyDavies on Twitter: "That's 100 goals in 105 Real Madrid games for Cristiano Ronaldo. Some kind of record?"

2122: GOALFLASH Bayern Munich 3-2 Napoli (Fernandez)

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Hold on, Benfica may not be celebrating qualification tonight after all - Basel's equaliser has put a spanner in those works. Napoli's Juan Camilo Zuniga has seen red, which rules the midfielder out of their home clash with City. Inter Milan have doubled their lead to strengthen their grip on Group B, while Cristiano Ronaldo scores his 100th Real Madrid goal as Jose Mourinho's side put one foot in the last 16.

2120: Manchester United midfielder Anderson, who has had a bit of a shocker it has to be said, is off to be replaced by Park Ji-sung.

janniky on Twitter: "Yaya Toure has tekkers. Looked like a dance move before the goal"

2117: Back at Old Trafford - a shocking back-pass by Cornel Rapa allows Dimitar Berbatov a glorious chance - one-on-one with keeper Branko Grahovac at close-range - but the United striker strikes it badly, straight into the side-netting. It was a slightly tricky angle but still a poor finish.

Man City goal: That's three for Man City, two for Yaya Toure - and no more than Villarreal deserve for completely giving up the ghost this half. The move starts on the edge of City's box and ends with Mario Balotelli's square ball to Yaya Toure, the Ivorian taking a touch past a defender before slotting into the corner.

2115: GOALFLASH Villarreal 0-3 Man City (Toure)

2114: GOALFLASH Lyon 0-2 Real Madrid (C Ronaldo)

FOOTBALL LEAGUE: Cardiff look like putting an end to their winless away run as they go 2-0 up at Derby through a Kevin Kilbane own goal. Bad to worse to... anyone know what word to use? Well, Leeds are suffering from this at home as they go 4-0 down to Blackpool. Lomana Lua-Lua has scored his second of the game.

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live pundit Kevin Gallacher: "I can't believe how easy it is for Manchester City. It's normally so tough here. I've seen Everton and Middlesbrough struggle here. But they've got four to five key players out, and City have shown the confidence they've had in the Premier League."

BBC Sport's Chris Bevan at Old Trafford reports: "United are not struggling to create chances in this half, but they need to take one to put this game to bed. Otelul are limited, in terms of ambition and ability but, despite the best efforts of the excellent Phil Jones, United's front two of Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez seem determined to keep things interesting - or slightly tense - for a little while longer."

2110: GOALFLASH Inter Milan 2-0 Lille (Milito)

2109: Sergio Aguero and Gareth Barry can carry on warming up - because it's Adam Johnson who is given the nod to replace the limping David Silva for Man City. Dare I say that looks precautionary, however.

2108: GOALFLASH Benfica 1-1 Basel (Huggel)

2108: GOALFLASH Ajax 3-0 Dinamo Zagreb (De Jong)

2107: Free header for Dimitar Berbatov inside the Otelul box, but the Bulgarian can't get the power behind his header from Fabio's cross and Branko Grahovac. Still only the one goal in that game, of course.

2106: David Silva is just struggling a touch with a knock now - prompting Sergio Aguero and Gareth Barry to get warming up for Man City.

2105: Man City still bossing things at El Madrigal, but the pace of proceedings resembles more a friendly than a Champions League match. That said, Joe Hart is in action again as he falls to save Villarreal midfielder Borja Valero's deflected shot.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Very, very quiet around Europe since the second halves got under way. No goals in the opening quarter of an hour anywhere, so City and United remain in the all-important second positions in their groups as it stands.

alaverdyan on Twitter: "Richest club v Poorest club in Champions League?! Can you really tell which is which? Very poor United, disappointing!"

2101: Otelul continuing to push forward with confidence at Old Trafford, Liviu Antal this time tonking an effort narrowly off target from inside the box.

2058: Off the line! And suddenly Man Utd surge, Anderson swapping passes with Dimitar Berbatov on the edge of the box and then clipping goalwards, only for Sergio Costin to clear the goalbound effort with a last-gasp swipe.

2057: Otelul, on the other hand, are giving it a right royal go at Old Trafford with substitute Sorin Frunza immediately causing problems in attack for the visitors. Sir Alex Ferguson watches on looking as if someone has wiped mustard on his top lip.

2056: Manchester City have started the second as they finished the first - in pretty much total control. Villarreal, still smarting from that perceived injustice before the break, look a bit broken.

2053: Otelul change, Sorin Frunza on for Silviu Ilie.

2052: Man City boss Roberto Mancini is out for the second half sporting an ice pack on his head. Forget the Mancini scarf, people, expect the Mancini ice-hat to hit shops by Christmas.

2051: He's been fairly quiet tonight, but Javier Hernandez pings in a good effort there as his curler is saved low down by Otelul keeper Branko Grahovac.

2049: The second half gets going at El Madrigal - with Villarreal's players still arguing with the referee.

2048: And we almost have an immediate answer - Otelul's reponse is to almost go two behind two minutes into the half, Javier Hernandez's fine through-ball releasing Dimitar Berbatov in the box and only a fine stop from keeper Branko Grahovac prevents the Bulgarian's attempted cross falling to Anderson for a simple tap-in six yards out.

2047: We are back up and running at Old Trafford. What response have Otelul got in them, we wonder...?

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Records are being set at a rapid rate as Bayern's Super Mario continues his rich vein of form. Gomez's hat-trick means he becomes the leading German scorer in the Champions League and also the first to bag two trebles in the competition. He's now smashed home 19 goals in his last 17 games for Bayern, Infostrada Sports tell us. Not bad eh?

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live pundit Mark Lawrenson's HT verdict at Old Trafford: "The game is flat. It's like a training game. I don't think Wane Rooney has moved into third gear yet, But when you're playing a poor side it's hard to get revved up."

JeetRajani on Twitter: "Its not called going down easily, its called making the most of contact in the box"

DuYip on Twitter: "Balotelli ankle tap????? Didn't even touch him. Can't blame him for going down if ref's are going to fall for it though"

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live pundit Kevin Gallacher's HT verdict at Villarreal: "It's been a really slow game, a game of chess, with each team testing each other out early on. Once Man City got hold of it, it was just a matter of time before the scored. They controlled the first half and deserve the lead."

2045: Come on folks, let's be hearing from you. Tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, Tweet me @sampatricklyon or text in via 81111 (UK). Easy.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: So the two Manchester clubs are winning, but what's happening in their respective groups? Bayern Munich are leading 3-1 against Napoli which means City leap above the Italians into second place - and the Germans have 'Super' Mario, Gomez that is, to thank. And United's group rivals Benfica are well on course to clinch qualification with a slender 1-0 lead over Basel. Real Madrid, Ajax and Inter Milan also lead.

FOOTBALL LEAGUE: Half times in the Championship: Cardiff still lead 1-0 at Derby but it's gone from bad to worse for Leeds at Elland Road against Blackpool. On-loan Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey bags a penalty after defender Tom Lees handles in the box, who is also sent off, and adds another from close range to put the Seasider's 3-0 up.

2041: Right then, my verdict on that Mario Balotelli penalty incident? *Drum roll* Dive. That said, Roy Keane on ITV reckons it was a penalty so if he asks anyone, tell him I said it was a stonewall spot-kick yeah? Cheers.

cooliobarrio on Twitter: "That was definitely a penalty!"

forza_toon on Twitter: "Mario, Why Always Dive?"

Half time
2039: HALF-TIME Villarreal 0-2 Man City
Saj Chowdhury's HT snapshot:
"It's all rosy for City. They're two goals up and looking comfortable while in Munich Bayern are pounding Napoli, City's rivals in the hunt for second place.

Half time
2037: HALF-TIME Man Utd 1-0 Otelul
Chris Bevan's HT snap-shot from Old Trafford:
"Valencia's early goal was by far the best thing about a quiet first half from United, who lost Owen to injury and need to extend their lead quickly after the break to ensure there are no late nerves."

2036: During the half-time break, by the way, I'll be looking at that Mario Balotelli penalty incident. I'm far from convinced it should have been given. I'll also be brushing up on my Balotelli/Yaya Toure recognition skills, obviously.

2035: And that's about the last action of the half in Spain.

Man City goal: This one is definitely Mario Balotelli. The Italian earns the penalty, too, his driving run ended by an ankle tap from Mateo Musacchio in the box and Balotelli picks himself up to send the keeper the wrong way from the spot.

2033: GOALFLASH Villarreal 0-2 Man City (Balotelli pen)


2031: That's half-time at Old Trafford... while back in Spain...

2031: And now Jonathan de Guzman's 25-yard shot forces Man City keeper Joe Hart into action, the save a simple one, mind.

2030: Long-range effort from Anderson in low at Old Trafford... wide.

2030: Keep-ball from Man City in Spain as Roberto Mancini's men see out the first half in comfortable fashion.

2029: GOALFLASH Bayern Munich 3-1 Napoli (Fernandez)

2027: Otelul chance! And it takes a good save from home keeper David de Gea to protect Man Utd's lead, Nani's wayward pass letting in Ionut Neagu, whose goalbound deflected shot from the edge of the area is pushed away well by the Spaniard.

2026: Just a couple of times this evening Javier Hernandez's first touch has let him down - unusually - and it does so again here as a chance is wasted after Wayne Rooney had set him clear on goal.

2026: GOALFLASH Bayern Munich 3-0 Napoli (Gomez, hat-trick)

2025: Five minutes until half time at Old Trafford and El Madrigal - and the Manchester sides are in control.

2023: More good work from David Silva for Man City as he works some space on the right before nudging the ball across the six-yard area - but there are no Man City bodies in the box to take advantage. Shame.

2021: The good news is that not one of you noticed I got Man City's goalscorer wrong just then. Phew.

BBC Sport's Chris Bevan at Old Trafford reports: "United have not built on their early lead in terms of creating further chances, probably because Otelul have not exactly opened up - or committed any more men further forward - since going behind. Phil Jones and his forays from right-back remain their best hope of extending their lead, and his run into the area was a rare reason for the United fans to get off their seats."

Infostrada Sports on Twitter: "Cristiano Ronaldo's goal was his 99th for Real Madrid by the way … and Madrid's 900th in European football."

2019: Good stuff from Man Utd at Old Trafford as Fabio charges forward the length of a half, Maradona-style, before running the ball into touch. Phil Jones then comes close with a 10-yard shot, headed clear by Cristian Sarghi, as United keep causing problems for Otelul.

JackWTeague on Twitter: "Y.Toure has to be one of the best midfielders in World football. His finishing is pure class alongside his passing and control "

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: The Champions League goals are flying in as we pass the half hour mark. Mario Gomez's second of the night edges Bayern closer to qualification from Manchester City's group, while Cristiano Ronaldo puts 100 per-centers Real Madrid ahead at Lyon with his 99th goal for the club. Inter Milan move into the Group B driving seat thanks to Walter Samuel's opener against Lille.

2017: Correction! It was Yaya Toure's goal at Villarreal, not Mario Balotelli. Apologies.

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live pundit Kevin Gallacher on Man City goal: "I don't know what the Villarreal defenders were doing there. They were miles apart allowing Yaya Toure the space to pick his spot."

Man City goal: Fine goal. Inspired by the swelling lump on Roberto Mancini's head, City break the deadlock in clinical fashion as David Silva feeds Yaya Toure in the box to open his body and curl home a doozy of a finish into the far bottom corner.

2015: GOALFLASH Villarreal 0-1 Man City (Toure)

2014: Ouch... more headaches in Europe for Roberto Mancini, says my editor, as the Man City boss jumps up to appeal for something or other and bashes his head on the away team dugout roof... ahem... Must. Not. Laugh.

2013: ...into the wall from David Silva. But was there a suspicion of handball? No appeals were heard, but I wonder...?

2012: Free-kick 22 yards out to Manchester City in Spain...

2012: Manchester United have got more time and space than Jupiter at the moment. More goals just a matter of the time for them, I would suspect.

2011: GOALFLASH Lyon 0-1 Real Madrid (C Ronaldo)

2010: GOALFLASH Ajax 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb (Sulemani)

FOOTBALL LEAGUE: Blackpool take the lead against Leeds through Lomano Lua Lua. The former Portsmouth man followed up Jonjo Shelvey's shot after it was parried by Leeds goalkeeper Paul Rachubka. And Cardiff go ahead at Derby through Filip Kiss, who finishes with a strike into the bottom after hesitant Derby defending.

2009: GOALFLASH Bayern Munich 2-0 Napoli (Gomez)

MattEmeryIsMe on Twitter: "Absolutely gutted for Michael Owen, has proved in the cups for United he has still got it"

MatthewUnsworth on Twitter: "Rodrigo can get into the Benfica team in Champions League, but couldn't get into Bolton's team? Puzzles me."

2007: There we go... first shot in anger from Man City, Samir Nasri's low 20-yarder skipping past Diego Lopez's right-hand upright.

2006: GOALFLASH Ajax 1-0 Dinamo Zagreb (Van der Wiel)

2005: Just under 20 minutes gone in the El Madrigal and Man City have still not managed a shot on goal yet. Villarreal look to be growing in confidence on the ball, too.

2004: GOALFLASH Inter Milan 1-0 Lille (Samuel)

2003: A bit more on that Michael Owen injury - it would appear the veteran striker sustained something like a thigh strain, though his withdrawal could well have been precautionary.

BBC Sport's Chris Bevan at Old Trafford reports: "United had been probing down the flanks since kick-off so it was not a great surprise that their opening goal has come from that source, or that Phil Jones was far forward enough to deliver the cross. If United's ploy was to break down the Romanians by stretching them, it has worked. The only bad news for the home side is that Michael Owen injury - he headed straight down the tunnel for treatment after coming off."

2002: GOALFLASH Bayern Munich 1-0 Napoli (Gomez)

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Only one goal elsewhere in a quiet start across Europe - and it has also been scored in Group C. Benfica, who will qualify with victory over Basle, make the perfect start with a fourth minute strike from Rodrigo Moreno Machado.

1958: Over in Spain, Villarreal are looking every inch a side bereft of confidence as they struggle to string more than a couple of passes together before giving possession away. Man City on top - without creating a huge amount to date.

1956: Oh dear. Michael Owen is being replaced. He limps off to allow Javier Hernandez his chance to bag a goal or two against the Romanian minnows.

1954: You have to suspect that goal might just open the floodgates for Man Utd tonight don't you? Saying that, Marius Pena has just had a fine headed chance from Liviu Antal's cross for Otelul that flew wide but could - and should - have been nodded on target at least.

Man Utd goal: Less than seven minutes in and Man Utd are up and running. Phil Jones receives Dimitar Berbatov's pass and although his deflected cross eludes Michael Owen, Antonio Valencia has the simple task of tapping in six yards out unmarked.

1952: GOALFLASH Man Utd 1-0 Otelul (Valencia)

1952: And despite that early Hernan Perez effort, it is Man City dominating possession in Spain too.

1951: GOALFLASH Benfica 1-0 Basel (Machado)

1950: Five minutes in at Old Trafford - and Man Utd have settled on the ball already, dominating possession and keeping the Otelul boys firmly at arm's length at all times. Pattern set?

1949: Early effort from Villarreal over in Spain, Hernan Perez firing a fierce 25-yard effort at goal that forces Joe Hart into a smart stop.

1948: Couple of early touches for makeshift midfielder Wayne Rooney, but United just giving the ball away a touch in the early stages. A hangover from the City game?

1945: Nice and prompt from both the Manchester clubs in Europe tonight - we are up and running and Old Trafford and El Madrigal.

ShayChopra94 on Twitter: "Hat-trick for Rooney tonight, great player and I can see him playing this role for years to come."

1944: And don't forget to keep the missives coming in tonight, folks. Tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, Tweet me @sampatricklyon or text in via 81111 (UK). Do it.

1943: Here come the teams, here comes the music, matchday four of the 2011-12 Champions League... let's get it on.

1941: MAN UTD v OTELUL GALATI (1945)
Chris Bevan at Old Trafford reports:
Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen start up front for Manchester United, who make seven changes from Saturday's win over Everton and keep everyone guessing on how they will actually line up. Wayne Rooney is one of those to keep his place and could drop into midfield, while Rio Ferdinand, Fabio, Anderson, Nani and Antonio Valencia are the other players to come in. For Otelul Galati, Cristian Sarghi comes in for the suspended Milan Perendija in defence and Ioan Filip and Adrian Salageanu both shook off knocks in time to play."

1938: VILLARREAL v MAN CITY (1945)
Saj Chowdhury reports:
"So Mario Balotelli makes his first start for Man City in the Champions League having been included in the squad for this competition for the first time. Defender Stefan Stefan Savic is in the starting XI with Joleon Lescott taking his place on a strong bench alongside Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero and Aleksander Kolarov. Villarreal coach Juan Carlos Garrido is without Cani, Marco Ruben, Marcos Senna and striker Giuseppe Rossi, but Joselu makes his Champions League debut in attack."

1936: And another quick stat for Championship fans - a draw for Derby against Cardiff at Pride Park will take the Rams' all-time league points total to 5,000.

NathMiddleton on Twitter: "Something you dont usually see in press box - journalist, I'm guessing from Romania, wearing Otelul G club shirt & scarf."

Tony, Cheshire via text: "Good to see Rooney playing in what I think is his best position long term. If he hadn't had his hair re-turfed he'd even look like Sir Bobby Charlton. Well, a bit."

BBC Sport's Chris Bevan at Old Trafford reports: "Manchester United fans almost outnumbered their Otelul Galati counterparts in Bucharest a fortnight ago and I don't think the visitors will have a sizeable presence in Manchester either, although I did see a group of about 20 travelling supporters stagger out of the United Megastore weighed down by enough souvenirs to fill a bus. Even some Romanian journalists just look happy to be here, but I doubt the Otelul players will treat it as a jolly."

1932: Sir Alex Ferguson cuts a nerveless figure ahead of kick-off, I tell you, and the Scot is confident Wayne Rooney will cope in an orthodox central midfield role, saying: "Wayne can play there. I just want him to play as a normal midfielder." Regarding his own much-publicised comments about Rio Ferdinand losing pace, Ferguson added: "A lot of people try to put a negative slant on it. What I was saying about Rio is that, when you get into your 30s, you change your game." Still got a bit of bite the big man, hasn't he?

darasheahan on Twitter: "I hate the way people make earning £40,000 a year sound like a bad thing. I'd be pretty pleased with that!!"

Anon via text: "Rooney in midfield, about time i've been saying this for two years. Perfect replacement for Scholes."

1928: And a Championship fact alert for you all... Leeds meet Blackpool tonight for the first time in 41 seasons, don't you know. Current Leeds director Peter Lorimer scored for the Whites in a 1-1 draw at Bloomfield Road on 13 March, 1971.

1926: MAN UTD v OTELUL GALATI (1945)
Chris Bevan at Old Trafford reports:
"Only three points will do for Sir Alex Ferguson against bottom side Otelul after Manchester United's stuttering start in Group C. 'We need to win, that's for sure,' Ferguson said. 'Going on our experience in Romania they're a very organised, committed, strong and aggressive team. We'll need a good performance to beat them.' Otelul boss Dorinel Munteanu, targeting third and a Europa League spot, has a different aim - a first Champions League point. 'A draw here would be a dream,' he said."

1923: VILLARREAL v MAN CITY (1945)
Saj Chowdhury reports: "Manchester City
manager Roberto Mancini described the Champions League as a 'strange tournament' and it will seem stranger if his league high-flyers suffer their second loss of the group stages at Villarreal. Counterpart Juan Carlos Garrido is treating the game like every other - erm, not. 'For us it is the match of our lives,' he said. Blimey."

TWoods34 on Twitter: "Man United's response to their midfield problems = just play one. Like it, Fergie." via text: "Anon.-. Sam. went. on. to. explain. why. it. mightn't. be. a. cakewalk. for. United. and. City."

dbeck1337 on Twitter: "If City lose tonight and fail to qualify for the next stage of the Champions League, they will walk the Premier League title."

1918: MAN UTD v OTELUL GALATI (1945)
Chris Bevan at Old Trafford reports:
"In Sir Alex Ferguson's first programme notes since what he calls the "derby debacle", he describes tonight's game against Otelul Galati as a chance to continue his side's "repair work" since the 6-1 defeat by Man City. "It's painful even to think about," Ferguson says. "But I don't want the players to forget it totally. We were the butt of many a joke but there is no progress in life without failure." Man Utd cannot seal their progress from Group C tonight whatever happens, but it is fair to say victory is the least that is expected."

1916: VILLARREAL v MAN CITY (1945)
Saj Chowdhury reports:
"Despite a snatching a late win against Villarreal last time out, anything but three points at El Madrigal may again make life that little bit uncomfortable in the Champions League, especially if Napoli triumph in Munich. However, the 'away factor' should hold no fears for a Man City side that have scored 15 goals in their last three games on the road. As boss Roberto Mancini said this week: "We are top of the table, we can play Champions League."

1914: Let's hear from our match reporters, then...

Infostrada Sports on Twitter: "CL RECORD - Inter's starting XI vs Lille has an avg age of 31 years -317 days, breaking Milan's 31-215 vs Celtic on 4 Dec 2007."

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Three teams have a chance of sealing last 16 qualification tonight. Bayern Munich will advance from Group A if they beat Napoli and City lose at Villarreal. A win for United's Group C rivals Benfica against Basel will clinch their quarter-final spot. And Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid will advance if they extend their 100 per cent record with victory at Lyon.

1911: MAN UTD v OTELUL GALATI (1945)
Man Utd:
De Gea, Jones, Ferdinand, Evans, Fabio Da Silva, Valencia, Anderson, Rooney, Nani, Berbatov, Owen. Subs: Lindegaard, Evra, Park, Hernandez, Welbeck, Pogba, Fryers.
Otelul Galati: Grahovac, Rapa, Costin, Sarghi, Salageanu, Neagu, Filip, Giurgiu, Antal, Pena, Ilie. Subs: Branet, Skubic, Benga, Iorga, Paraschiv, Frunza, Punosevac.
Referee: Marijo Strahonja (Croatia)

1909: VILLARREAL v MAN CITY (1945)
Diego Lopez, Mario, Rodriguez, Musacchio, Catala, De Guzman, Marchena, Valero, Wakaso, Perez, Joselu. Subs: Cesar, Joan Oriol, Angel, Bordas, Gullon, Tomas, Fofo.
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Savic, Clichy, De Jong, Toure Yaya, Milner, Silva, Nasri, Balotelli. Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Dzeko, Johnson, Kolarov, Aguero, Barry.
Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal)

krishant on Twitter: "Anyone thinking...'Why always me?'"

FOOTBALL LEAGUE: We've got a double-header in the Championship this evening. Derby host Cardiff at Pride Park with the home side looking to consolidate their position in the play-offs. Cardiff, though, are six games without a win away from home, and 11 points worse off than at the same stage last season. In the other game, Blackpool travel to Elland Road to face a Leeds side that has lost just one of their last nine games, while the Seasiders have not won away since the opening game against Hull.

1907: And fear not, non-European football fans, we also have two Championship matches to enjoy this evening as well. Shamoon Hafez brings you the build-up...

thisfootballday on Twitter: "17 years ago today Barca destroyed Utd 4-0 in Camp Nou, while 15 years ago City were losing 2-0 to Swindon. Different days now."

Mario Balotelli starts up front for Man City at Villarreal, with Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero having to settle for a place on the bench.

Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen start up front in an attacking Man Utd line-up against Otelul, with Wayne Rooney deployed in a midfield role.

DaveTalbot on Twitter: "RE: 1850 & 1855 anyone thinking... 'Can't see anything other than Bayern & Napoli qualifying from City's group'?"

Anon via text: "There are no cakewalks in football, anyone could tell you that, the right formation/mentality and a bit of luck can turn any game on its head, naive commentator man!"

stewerogers on Twitter: "Cakewalk might be too kind. I'm thinking more likely...slaughterhouse?"

1900: I make that very much game on. But unlike the annual Egotist Christmas Party, this isn't all about me, me, me... what do you lot reckon? Tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, Tweet me @sampatricklyon or text in via 81111 (UK). Jubbly.

1857: Well let's not count our chickens just yet people. While Genk showed last night against Chelsea - albeit at home - that David still occasionally has his day against Goliath, Otelul boss Dorinel Munteanu can also boast to be something of a nemesis for English football, having played in two wins over the national side for Romania - a 2-1 win at the 1998 World Cup and a 3-2 win at Euro 2000. And as for Villarreal, their home record - nine wins in their last 10 European ties - suggests City will have to their wits about them tonight too.

1855: Anyone thinking... 'odds on'?

1853: Manchester City, meanwhile, go into their match against Villarreal flying. Having won eight of their last nine matches, including the club's first ever Champions League triumph last time out in the reverse fixture against tonight's opposition, City are top of the Premier League, able to call upon Mario Balotelli for the first time in Europe this season and are going up against a side in Villarreal that have also yet to register a point in this year's competition.

1850: Anyone thinking... 'cakewalk'?

1848: United's opposition tonight: Otelul Galati. A Romanian outfit boasting just one major domestic trophy to its name, with a playing staff paid, on average, a little over £40,000 a year, and a team that have yet to register a point in this year's Champions League.

1845: The last time Manchester United turned out at Old Trafford, they were sent packing 6-1 by fierce rivals Manchester City on a day referred to by manager Sir Alex Ferguson as his "worst ever day" at the club. Tonight the Red Devils return to the scene of the crime in front of their own supporters utterly desperate to make amends.

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Champions League results

2 Nov 2011 23:59 UK

Champ Lge Group A table snapshot

As it stood on 2 Nov 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Bayern Munich 4 5 10
2 Man City 4 2 7
3 Napoli 4 1 5
4 Villarreal 4 -8 0

Champ Lge Group B table snapshot

As it stood on 2 Nov 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Inter Milan 4 2 9
2 CSKA Moscow 4 2 5
3 Trabzonspor 4 -2 5
4 Lille 4 -2 2

Champ Lge Group C table snapshot

As it stood on 2 Nov 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Man Utd 4 4 8
2 Benfica 4 3 8
3 FC Basel 4 -1 5
4 Otelul Galati 4 -6 0

Champ Lge Group D table snapshot

As it stood on 2 Nov 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Real Madrid 4 10 12
2 Ajax 4 3 7
3 Lyon 4 -4 4
4 Dinamo Zagreb 4 -9 0

Champ Lge Group E table snapshot

As it stood on 2 Nov 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Chelsea 4 7 8
2 Bayer Leverkusen 4 -1 6
3 Valencia 4 1 5
4 Genk 4 -7 2

Champ Lge Group F table snapshot

As it stood on 2 Nov 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Arsenal 4 2 8
2 Marseille 4 3 7
3 Borussia Dortmund 4 -4 4
4 Olympiakos 4 -1 3

Champ Lge Group G table snapshot

As it stood on 2 Nov 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Apoel Nicosia 4 2 8
2 Zenit St P'sbg 4 2 7
3 FC Porto 4 -2 4
4 Shakhtar Donetsk 4 -2 2

Champ Lge Group H table snapshot

As it stood on 2 Nov 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Barcelona 4 11 10
2 AC Milan 4 4 8
3 BATE Borisov 4 -7 2
4 Plzen 4 -8 1

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