Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick didn't consider passing up tap-in for penalty against Galatasaray

 

Michael Carrick never considered passing up the chance of a rare goal at Old Trafford last night.

The Manchester United midfielder's early effort proved decisive in the Champions League win over Galatasaray.

Yet in converting his seventh-minute chance, Carrick was not just scoring his first European goal for three years, he was also allowing Fernando Muslera to escape without sanction for a definite red card offence.

Muslera tripped Carrick as the midfielder stepped inside onto Shinji Kagawa's pass.

Had he not managed to score anyway, referee Wolfgang Stark would have had little alternative but to dismiss the Uruguayan in addition to awarding the hosts a penalty.

Carrick was not too keen on that idea. And given Nani later became the third United player this season to fail from the spot, it was probably a wise choice.

"I didn't go down because the way we are taking penalties we might not have scored!" said Carrick.

"I don't get many goals anyway so when you get a tap-in you have to take it. I wasn't going to pass that one up from five yards out."

It was Carrick's first goal since January and only his 20th in a United career now approaching 300 games.

The statistic might be one reason why he has been overlooked so often for international duty.

Even after he declared his availability after missing Euro 2012, the 31-year-old failed to start either of the recent World Cup qualifiers against Moldova or Ukraine.

"People say I should get more but it is about the position you play in," he said.

"You look at other defensive midfielders around Europe and they don't necessarily score a lot of goals.

"In an ideal world I'd like to score more but I am not really around the box that much."

Although they struggled badly at times, the result was everything to Sir Alex Ferguson and his players.

Last season's group stage exit wounded the Red Devils deeply.

Plenty of work still lies ahead but if they can emerge from next month's trip to Romanian champions Cluj unscathed, they will be in pole position to reclaim their customary place in the knockout phase.

"It is not about restoring belief in Europe but last year was a setback and it was important to get off to a winning start," said Carrick.

"It is not easy to win games in this competition and it won't be easy in Cluj either."

Before that, United have what is sure to be an emotional visit to Liverpool this Sunday.

It is the Merseyside giants' first game at Anfield since the damning judgement on the Hillsborough tragedy, and Liverpool are intending to mark the occasion in an appropriate manner.

Sir Alex Ferguson has already confirmed United will offer any assistance possible in ensuring the day passes off smoothly.

That is thought to include the United boss laying a wreath prior to kick-off, whilst it is inconceivable that, despite last season's racism storm, Patrice Evra will not shake hands with Luis Suarez.

However, as Ferguson pointed out on Tuesday, there are always some people "wanting to be heard".

Thankfully, there was no repeat of the anti-Liverpool songs at Old Trafford last night.

Everyone is aware that, in a rivalry as intense as the one that exists between England's two most successful sides, it will not take much for it to spill over as has occurred far too many times in the past.

"After what has gone on there is added responsibility on the players for everything to go smoothly," said Carrick.

"We will be doing our utmost to make sure that is the case.

"It is a heated game because it is a great football match. That is what should be celebrated really.

"It is a rivalry of two great clubs with great histories and traditions. It is what makes the game so special, a classic game worldwide.

"Hopefully it will be a cracking game of football because it is vital that after Sunday, everyone is talking about the football."

PA

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