Charlton 0 - 2 Manchester United

Saturday 13th September
The Valley, Charlton

A Ruud van Nistelrooy brace ensured that Manchester United took home all three points, but Fergie will be less than happy with the teams' overall performance, which still had the lethargy that cost them at Southampton.

The game swung into full steam within just seconds, with Di Canio putting Euell clear. Euell went in too hard on Howard, and won a yellow card for his troubles. The yellow would prove crucial to Euell's game, with another yellow following in the second half to earn him an early bath.

The heat and the fact that Charlton pressured every ball made it difficult for the reds, with very few chances created in the first half. The midfield did contain some class, however, with Ronaldo producing another sparkling performance, this time on the left hand side of midfield, with Giggs playing as the second striker.

Before the match many had been talking about who would be missing, with Ferdinand, Silvestre, O'Shea, Butt, and Scholes all supposedly missing. As it happened only long-term injured Scholes missed the game, whilst the rest started, or made a late cameo, in the case of Silvestre.

With Scholes' absence there was lack of creativity from the midfield, which was formed mainly around battlers Keane, Phil Neville and Butt.

It was Ronaldo who set up the only real chance for the Reds in the first half, with his stylish drag-back to Giggs. Giggs shot, but had his effort comfortably cleared off the line by Charlton.

With Ronaldo getting more and more joy on the left hand-side - his party tricks were more than enough to get past the flat-footed Kishishev - United became more of an attacking force in the second half, when they upped the tempo.

Charlton had the best of the first ten minutes after the re-start, but could do little with the pressure they had built.

When Keane limped off for Solskjaer on the hour, many fans were beginning to think that this would be a repeat of the Southampton disaster, but they were proved wrong just three minutes later.

A Giggs free-kick rebounded off the wall into Gary Neville's path. His shot hit a number of bodies on the way into the box, and fell to the feet of Ruud. His finish from six-yards out was impeccable, but expected.

The game was effectively over some three minutes later, with Euell receiving a second yellow card for a clumsy tackle on Gary Neville.

Man United dominated the rest of the game, with Solskjaer helping to create more from the midfield ranks. Ronaldo managed a few more step-overs and inspirational runs before the three points were secured by a second goal from van Nistelrooy. A Giggs free-kick was floated to the back-post, where the Dutchman was waiting to head home for his fourth goal of the season. Game Over.

Another Ronaldo effort followed, but Manchester were merely playing out the game. They hadn't been at their best, far from it, but they had won all three points, which is a sign of a Championship winning team.

Charlton: Kiely, Kishishev, Perry, Fortune, Powell, Stuart, Parker (Lisbie 88), Holland (Bartlett 78), Jensen, Euell, Di Canio (Johansson 83).

Sent Off: Euell (65). Booked: Euell, Kishishev.

Man Utd: Howard; Gary Neville, Ferdinand, O'Shea,Fortune (Silvestre 83); Phil Neville, Ronaldo, Butt, Keane (Solskjaer 59); van Nistelrooy, Giggs.

Subs Not Used: Carroll, Djemba-Djemba, Forlan. Booked: Butt, Phil Neville.

Attendance: 26,078. Referee: M Riley (W Yorkshire).