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banner Wednesday, 5 December, 2001, 21:57 GMT
Man Utd stroll past Boavista
Ruud van Nistelrooy celebrates scoring his first goal of the match
Van Nistelrooy celebrates scoring his first goal
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Manchester United 3-0 Boavista

Two goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy and one from Laurent Blanc helped Manchester United to a comfortable victory over Boavista at Old Trafford.

The Portuguese champions hardly offered the kind of test United experienced against Bayern Munich a fortnight ago.

But the home side needed to secure three vital points to maintain their Champions League campaign.

  Old Trafford goals
31: Ruud van Nistelrooy finishes off a flowing move
55: Laurent Blanc heads home to make it 2-0
62: Van Nistelrooy fires his second and United's third
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson surprisingly omitted David Beckham from his starting line-up, opting instead to name the England captain on the substitutes bench.

It was the visitors who made the early inroads, attempting to unsettle goalkeeper Fabien Barthez with two long-range efforts from Duda and Petit in the first five minutes.

But the Frenchman, who was found wanting in United's 3-1 defeat away to Arsenal at Highbury 10 days ago, was equal to the task at hand.

Despite a sluggish start, United soon established their trademark passing game with Veron, in particular, pulling the strings in midfield.

David Beckham watches his team-mates from the substitutes' bench
Beckham watched on from the subs' bench
The Argentine was working well in tandem with Paul Scholes, who almost opened the scoring on 13 minutes, but his well-struck volley from a corner deflected wide.

Veron then almost caught goalkeeper Ricardo by surprise with a fine 35-yard free-kick minutes later, but his shot narrowly missed the right-hand post.

However, the struggling Boavista defence eventually capitulated on 31 minutes when a smartly worked move between Veron and Phil Neville found an unmarked van Nistelrooy, who calmly netted past Ricardo.

Boavista managed to hold out until half-time, but on 55 minutes, Laurent Blanc doubled United's lead with his first goal at Old Trafford.

United ascendancy

The much-maligned French defender rose unopposed to meet Veron's corner, heading powerfully past Ricardo in front of the Stretford End.

And seven minutes later, the tie was effectively over when Van Nistelrooy scored his second goal of the night.

The Dutchman latched onto Dwight Yorke's accurate through ball before taking his time to slot past the on-rushing Ricardo.

United, clearly in the ascendancy, rung the changes towards the end, with Irishman John O'Shea, Quinton Fortune and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer all coming on in the final 15 minutes.

Boavista attempted to throw men forward, but could not break down United's impressive defence, who stood firm until the final whistle.

Man Utd: Barthez, Phil Neville, Blanc, Gary Neville, Silvestre, Butt, Scholes, Keane, Veron, Yorke, van Nistelrooy. Subs: Carroll, Beckham, Chadwick, Solskjaer, Wallwork, Fortune, O'Shea.

Boavista: Ricardo, Frechaut, Pedro Emanuel, Turra, Erivan, Sanchez, Petit, Alexandre, Jorge Silva, Duda, Silva. Subs: William, Rui Oscar, Marcio Santos, Martelinho, Pedro Santos, Loja, Glauber.

Referee: Antonio Jesus Lopez Nieto (Malaga).

BBC Sport's Ian Brown
"United played with real verve"
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson
"We showed really good composure"
Manchester United striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy
"We didn't give anything away today"
Who should partner Ruud van Nistelrooy?

Andy Cole

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Dwight Yorke

9830 Votes Cast

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