Manchester United 4 - 1 Sparta Prague

Wedsnesday 3rd November, 2004
Old Trafford, Manchester

Manchester United returned to their free-scoring ways with a magnificent display. Wirthout Silvestre as a centre-bck, Wes Brown came in to play, and there was some defensive frailty.

However, with Van Nistelrooy at his predatory best, there were rarely any scares about where the three-points would be heading.
After some nice set-plays and attacking movements by both teams, with both right-wingers, Poborsky and Ronaldo, going close, United finally took the lead.

A sloppy underhit backpass fell directly at Van Nistelrooy's feet. he nipped it round the 'keeper and slotted home on 14 minutes, to get his first goal from open play in a few weeks.

United were two up after a neat run by Scholes. His run into the penalty box was abruptly ended by Kovac, with the resulting penalty clinically finished by Ruud, in the same spot as he scored against Lehmann in our glorious victory against the Whinging one and his team. The penalty was similarly disputed, with Schoels appearing to start to fall before any contact, but the penalty was given, and I have no complaints!

With united in control, many chances were spurned, with Heinze hitting the inside of the post only to see it bounce back into the fray. Scholes, Ronaldo and Rooney all had good chances but failed to capitalise on their good positional sense.

Half-time saw Sparta come out rejuvenated, and willing to attck United. Ten minutes later and their tactics had paid off, with a goal after a good move down the left flank.

At just 2 - 1 Prague started to push on for the equaliser. their lack of focus on defending may well have cost them however, as another defender tried a pass-back that ended up at Vinny's feet. A superb lob over the on-rushing 'keeper was enough to seal the result.
Van Nistelrooy finished the game with his fourth in injury time, becoming only the fourth person to score four in Champions League history.

This time Miller played it to the back-post and the Dutchman was there to poke home to complete a memorable night.

Man Utd: Carroll, Gary Neville, Ferdinand, Brown, Heinze, Miller, Keane, Scholes (Phil Neville 69), Ronaldo (Kleberson 69), Rooney, van Nistelrooy.

Subs Not Used: Howard, Saha, Giggs, Smith, Djemba-Djemba.
Booked: Miller, Brown.
Goals: Van Nistelrooy 14, 25 pen, 60, 90.

Sparta Prague: Blazek, Pergl, Homola, Kovac, Petras, Sivok, Vorisek (Meduna 72), Poborsky, Zelenka, Urbanek (Simak 81), Jun (Pacanda 81).

Subs Not Used: Bicik, Michalik, Cech, Koubsky.
Sent Off: Poborsky (87).
Booked: Poborsky, Homola.
Goals: Zelenka 53.

Att: 66,706
Ref: Alain Hamer (Luxembourg).