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Manchester Utd's Ole Solskjaer
"We started off very brightly and we controlled the game after 1-0 really"
 real 14k

BBC Sport's Mike Ingham
"The game was effectively over in 20 minutes"
 real 14k

Manchester Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson
"They played a simple game of passing and moving"
 real 14k

banner Tuesday, 13 March, 2001, 21:41 GMT
Man Utd outclass poor Graz
Nicky Butt
Nicky Butt smashes home Man United's opening goal
Manchester United 3-0 SK Sturm Graz

Manchester United strolled into the quarter-finals of the Uefa Champions League after destroying Austrian champions Sturm Graz.

Graz set out with a faint mathematical chance of gazumping United's last-eight bid but their hopes were soon extinguished at Old Trafford.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side finally hit something nearing top form early in the game and it was soon over as a contest.

Goals from Nicky Butt, Teddy Sheringham and Roy Keane sealed an easy home victory.

Challenge

Ferguson had demanded a huge improvement from his players - and typically they did not let him down.

There was nothing "embarrassing" about this performance.

United, who like to do things the hard way, waited until the last round of group matches to advance after needing only to avoid a heavy loss to reach the final eight for the fifth consecutive year.

  Key incidents
5 mins: Nicky Butt slams in the first goal
20 mins: Teddy Sheringham sweeps home the second
87 mins: Roy Keane completes Man Utd's easy win
It was United's fourth win over the Austrians in 18 months.

The 1999 European Cup winners must now wait until Friday to discover who their quarter-final opponents will be.

United finished second in Group A after rivals Valencia beat Panathinaikos 2-1.

That means United could now face Real Madrid, Deportivo la Coruna or the winners of the Bayern Munich v Arsenal match in the last eight.

Surprise

Ferguson decided to drop David Beckham from his starting line-up following several distinctly off-key displays from the England captain.

Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Phil Neville and Wes Brown also started on the bench as Ferguson reshuffled his squad in a bid to find a winning formula.

United almost made the perfect start inside a minute but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was foiled at point-blank range by alert Graz goalkeeper Kazimierz Sidorczuk after Roy Keane nodded down a Dennis Irwin corner.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was a key Man Utd figure
But the United faithful, who had been asked to stay seated as much as possible for safety reasons, were soon on their feet celebrating.

Graz only survived until the fifth minute when they failed to clear their lines and Nicky Butt smashed home a stunning 20-yard shot into the net.

It was all too easy for United and on 20 minutes it was 2-0.

Butt fed Solskjaer on the left and he pulled the ball back for Sheringham to tuck home his 20th goal of the season.

It was all United as the shell-shocked Austrians were completely overwhelmed and thankful to only be two goals behind at the interval.

Not surprisingly, the English Premier League leaders took their foot off the pedal in the second period.

Jaap Stam headed an Irwin free-kick into the chest of Sidorczuk straight after the restart and Butt went close with a rasping 25-yard drive which the Graz keeper did well to keep out.

Keane did add a late third following a majestic move involving Luke Chadwick and Solskjaer.

United were safely through to the last eight in the most comfortable fashion.


Man Utd: Barthez, Irwin, Silvestre, Stam, Gary Neville, Chadwick, Scholes, Keane, Butt, Solskjaer, Sheringham. Subs: Rachubka, Beckham, Cole, Phil Neville, Yorke, Brown, Greening.

SK Sturm Graz: Sidorczuk, Neukirchner, Ibertsberger, Korsos, Schopp, Mahlich, Schupp, Fleurquin, Minavand, Vastic, Haas. Subs: Schicklgruber, Hlinka, Foda, Strafner, Martens, Szabics, Koutsoupias.

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See also:

13 Mar 01 |  Champions League
Champions League clockwatch
13 Mar 01 |  Champions League
Deportivo dump out sorry AC Milan
13 Mar 01 |  Photo Galleries
Man Utd v Sturm Graz - in pictures
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