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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 November, 2003, 21:32 GMT
Man Utd crush sad Rangers

Man Utd 3-0 Rangers

Manchester United moved to the brink of the Champions League knockout stage with a comprehensive dismissal of Rangers at Old Trafford.

In-form Diego Forlan set the Premiership champions on the way to a double over their Scottish counterparts with a spectacular goal after five minutes.

And Ruud van Nistelrooy ended his barren spell with strikes either side of the interval to leave Alex McLeish's side well beaten.

Rangers must now fight secure their own place in the next phase of the Champions League with United poised to qualify in comfort.

As a so-called "Battle of Britain" it was a one-sided affair, with a joyous Old Trafford crowd taunting the Rangers fans about their Premiership pretensions long before the end.

5 mins: Forlan puts Manchester United ahead
42 mins: Van Nistelrooy doubles Manchester United's lead
59 mins: Van Nistelrooy gets his second and United's third

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson went for an attacking formation - with Forlan alongside Van Nistelrooy, and Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo raiding down the flanks.

And it was a move that reaped an instant reward when Forlan put United ahead in clinical fashion.

Roy Keane's cross was only partially cleared and Forlan took full advantage to fire a crisp right-foot volley past Stefan Klos.

Rangers were off the pace as United remained on cruise control, although Michael Mols should have done better when he found space from Michael Ball's pass.

Ball was in action to clear off the line from Giggs before United doubled their advantage three minutes before half-time.

Ronaldo's deep cross was met by Giggs, and when Forlan's volley rattled the bar, Van Nistelrooy scored via a fortunate rebound.

There was no luck required when United went three ahead on the hour, with Van Nistelrooy poaching to turn Giggs' free-kick past Klos from close range.

It gave Ferguson the opportunity to rest key players such as Giggs, Van Nistelrooy and Forlan ahead of the crucial trip to Liverpool.

United goalkeeper Tim Howard was virtually a redundant figure, only troubled once by Ball's free-kick.

And for Rangers, it was a sobering experience as United exerted complete supremacy over the Scots, who now face an uphill struggle to qualify from the group stage.

Man Utd: Howard, G Neville, Ferdinand, Silvestre, Fortune, Ronaldo, P Neville, Keane, Giggs (Bellion 67), Forlan (Kleberson 67), Van Nistelrooy (Fletcher 77).
Subs not used: Carroll, Butt, Djemba-Djemba, O'Shea.

Rangers: Klos, Khizanishvili, Moore (Ross 68), Berg, Ball, Arteta, Hughes, Arveladze, Vanoli (Burke 83), Mols (Capucho 56), Lovenkrands.
Subs Not Used: McGregor, Emerson, Ostenstad, Dowie.

Attendance: 66,707.

Referee: Pierluigi Collina (Italy).

Rangers boss Alex McLeish
"We were well beaten by a top, top side"

Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson
"The early goal helped us"

Champions League tables
21 Oct 03  |  Football

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