Valencia (right) powers in a shot to give United victory
By Mandeep Sanghera
Manchester United put themselves on the brink of qualifying for the Champions League knockout phase with a win over CSKA Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium.
Antonio Valencia earned the deserved victory late on when he angled in a strike at the far post after Dimitar Berbatov had flicked on a Nani cross.
Moments earlier, Valencia had smashed a shot against the crossbar.
The lively Nani had also gone close earlier on when his header was turned round the post by keeper Igor Akinfeev.
United were back at the scene of their 2008 Champions League final triumph over Chelsea when keeper Edwin van der Sar saved from Nicolas Anelka to secure a win on penalties.
That game had grass specially laid for it whereas the normal artificial surface was used on this occasion as a patient United notched their first win over a Russian side in Europe at the sixth attempt.
Despite CSKA being the more familiar with the so-called plastic pitch, United looked just as comfortable on the ball in what quickly developed into a cagey affair.
United were given a scare when centre-back Nemaja Vidic played his side into trouble and allowed Milos Krasic get in an 18-yard shot which he put over.
At the other end, Akinfeev was nearly caught out before managing to scramble a 30-yard Paul Scholes shot, which bounced in front of him, over his bar.
Gary Neville curled a left-foot shot narrowly high but, whether it was the pitch or defensive mindset of the teams, goalmouth chances were proving a rarity.
As much might have been expected considering, going into the tie, CSKA had won their last six matches at home in Europe while United were unbeaten in 13 away games in the Champions League.
However, Nani nearly changed the complexion of the match when he burst past Georgi Schennikov, although none of his team-mates took the gamble to get on the end of a cross he slid across the CSKA goalmouth.
Portuguese winger Nani looked the most likely to get the goal the game desperately needed and was only denied when Akinfeev dived low to his left to turn his header round the post.
CSKA - managed by former Sevilla, Tottenham and Real Madrid boss Juande Ramos - might have been the home side but showed little ambition, with United looking the more threatening as the game progressed.
Substitute Michael Owen missed a 10-yard volley from a Valencia cross before a lapse in concentration at the back by United was only rescued by the assistant referee's flag.
Krasic would have had a free shot on goal but was wrongly ruled offside.
A CSKA goal would have been unfair on the visitors and they heeded the warning as they produced a slick move involving several one-touch passes before Valencia saw a sweet strike come back off the crossbar.
Valencia made no mistake shortly afterwards when he scored the goal to reward a professional performance, leaving United commandingly top of Group B with three wins out of three.
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