Manchester United 3 - 0 Glasgow Rangers

European Champions League
Tuesday 4th November

Manchester United virtually sealed their place in the final sixteen of the European Champions League competition with an emphatic home victor against Glasgow Rangers.

United started the game well, and, after Forlan turned a stunning volley into the net from eight yards, never really looked like losing a goal - let alone the match. Forlan's goal, his fourth in four matches, came after a Roy Keane cross was only half-cleared by the Ranger's defence. The ball fell straight to the young Uruguayan, who promptly sent the ball curling into the right hand corner of the goal.

From then on in, United dominated possession. The Reds were happy to knock the ball around between the defenders for long spells, before launching attacks down the flanks with the searing pace of Giggs or Ronaldo. With Rangers defending so deeply, the likes of Silvestre and Ferdinand were hardly challenged when they were on the ball.

Late on in the first half Rangers began to apply pressure on the United goal, but rarely troubled the keeper. On the odd occasions they managed to get Howard to do any work he was more than equal to their shots.

After five minutes in their own half, United, and in particular Keane, decided enough was enough. He charged around the pitch with command and presence, winning the ball and changing the game in an instant.

After several tentative attacks and shots from distance Diego Forlan found the ball in front of him in the middle of a goalmouth scramble. He was facing the wrong way, but he managed to half-volley it on the turn. The ball bounced back off the cross-bar, and, after rebounding off the feet of a lucky Van Nistelrooy, into the back of the net.

They say strikers rely on confidence, and that goal galvanized Van Nistelrooy back to his threatening best. Suddenly he was everywhere, and, after waiting to pounce for the first ten minutes of the second half, he latched on to the end of a Giggs cross. The ball was drilled into the box by the Welshman, and it found its way through a crowd of bodies before arriving at the back post for Van Nistelrooy to prod home.

After United went three goals ahead, the game was virtually over. Sir Alex took of some of the key United players to rest them for the next big game - against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday. It's testament to the form of Diego Forlan that he was the first to be taken off - Ferguson choosing him as the player he would need most for Sunday's match.

Van Nistelrooy and Giggs were also allowed the luxury of an early bath. Fletcher, Bellion and Keberson came on, but United had changed the emphasis of their game so neither was likely to score. Instead of attacking, United were once-again happy to pass the ball around, keeping the ball well away from the Rangers players. The reds passed the ball around with slickness and efficiency.

After the final whistle blew, United had another three points to add to their tally, and had showed that they can control a game from start to finish against reputable opposition. They had won the second Battle of Britain. Except it wasn't really much of a battle.

Man of the match could be awarded to any number of players. Keane stood out in midfield, but Diego Forlan should probably be given the award for his skilful touches, his spectacular goal, and for helping to turn the Dutch goal-machine back on.

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).