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  Wednesday, 14 August, 2002, 20:49 GMT 21:49 UK
Man Utd suffer shock defeat
Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy battles for the ball
Van Nistelrooy could not find a way through
Zalaegerszeg 1-0 Man Utd



Manchester United's Champions League qualifying campaign has been left hanging in the balance as unfancied Zalaegerszeg earned a famous victory in Budapest.

Sir Alex Ferguson's men were forced to pay for a host of missed chances and for failing to raise their game sufficiently against their lesser-known Hungarian opponents.

Again, individual errors were to blame - with Phil Neville the main culprit - as substitute Bela Koplarovic ran into the United area unmarked to apply the simplest of finishes to Tamas Szamos' low cross.

The 90th-minute goal sent Zalaegerszeg fans into raptures, while United players were left to reflect on another poor performance.

United will have to produce far better back at Old Trafford in two weeks' time if they are to make it to the group stages of the Champions League, which their massive outlay in the transfer market demands.

  Key incidents
4 mins: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hits the post
60 mins: Ruud van Nistelrooy has "goal" disallowed
90 mins: Bela Koplarovic scores Zalaegerszeg's winner

Ferguson opted to stick with Argentine midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron, leaving Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt on the bench.

John O'Shea partnered Laurent Blanc in the centre of defence, but United were forced to make a substitution early on when Wes Brown, playing at right-back, limped off with an injury.

The blustery conditions made it difficult for United to impose themselves on their unfancied opponents.

Yet they had the better opening chances, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looking particularly threatening in attack.


It's a shock result - they never had a kick in the second half
Sir Alex Ferguson

Indeed, the Norwegian forward struck the post in the fourth minute with a venomous left-foot shot after controlling Ruud van Nistelrooy's lobbed pass beautifully.

Solskjaer was again the target for a peach of a crossfield ball by David Beckham, but the striker's shot was blocked by a sea of bodies.

For all the pressure United exerted, Zalaegerszeg were not overawed and keeper Roy Carroll reacted superbly to tip over Otto Vincze's rasping drive from 25 yards out.

A sweet move involving Veron, Solskjaer and Van Nistelrooy just before half-time should have produced a better end result, but United's Dutch striker blazed over from six yards.

After the interval, United upped the tempo and pushed forward with greater purpose.

Manchester United midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron
Veron had a disappointing game

Ryan Giggs won a rather fortuitous free-kick, which was played quickly to Beckham.

His cross was headed on by Roy Keane and Van Nistelrooy dispatched the leftovers, but the "goal" was ruled out for offside.

Keane and Solskjaer both went close, and Beckham drove straight at Sasa Ilic after a defence-splitting pass from Van Nistelrooy.

But a certain impatience crept into United's game, with Van Nistelrooy and Beckham both booked for dissent.

Ferguson brought on Diego Forlan, but it was another substitute, Koplarovic, who made the most telling contribution, scoring Zalaegerszeg's winner in the dying minutes.


Zalaegerszeg: Ilic, Szamosi, Budisa, Urban, Babati, Farago (Balogh 74), Egressy (Molnar 65), Csoka, Kenesei (Koplarovic 83), Darko Ljubojevic, Vincze.
Subs Not Used: Turi, Sabo, Kral, Joszi.
Booked: Ilic.

Man Utd: Carroll, Brown (Phil Neville 5), Blanc, O'Shea, Silvestre, Beckham, Veron, Keane, Giggs, Solskjaer (Forlan 80), van Nistelrooy.
Subs Not Used: Butt, Stewart, Scholes, Tierney, Williams.
Booked: Beckham, Van Nistelrooy.

Attendance: 40,000

Referee: Wolfgang Stark (Germany).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Ian Brown
"An embarrassment for United"
Sir Alex Ferguson
"It's a shock result"
Zalaegerszeg keeper Sasa Ilic
"I'm overwhelmed"
 VOTE RESULTS
Sir Alex Ferguson's best excuse for their defeat?

'A bumpy pitch'
 75.55% 

'A bad referee'
 24.45% 

11007 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

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