Scholes header secures points for United

Besiktas 0 Manchester United 1

Paul Scholes popped up 13 minutes from time to ensure Manchester United's bid to reach a third successive Champions League final got off on exactly the right note in Istanbul.

Sent off at the weekend at Tottenham for some would say two typical Scholes tackles, the 34-year-old produced another skill he is well noted for, ghosting into the penalty area unseen to nod home after Hakan Arikan had saved Nani's blistering shot.

Scholes' effort gave United victory they just about deserved in a match of few chances.

It was just the right way to start atoning for that dismal performance against Barcelona in Rome last May, and it might have been even more only for substitute Michael Owen to toe-poke a close-range chance just wide.

Not that United had it all their own way. Ben Foster is proving to be a reliable performer as Edwin van der Sar's deputy, although he did have to survive one major scare. It was one of those moments goalkeepers dread.

Foster set himself to save Serdar Ozkan's shot, only for the ball to flick off Jonny Evans and cannon skywards.

The United keeper could only turn and hope, knowing he was powerless to do anything about it.

Thankfully, the ball dropped just the wrong side of the crossbar for Besiktas' fans, who cranked up the volume to maximum just before kick-off and kept it there until half-time.

Not that United were affected. Indeed, they coped in fine style, content to knock the ball around and wait for openings to come.

The problem was, they did not. Adopting an attitude of which Nemanja Vidic would have approved, the Turks buffeted their opponents when they had to - as Wayne Rooney and Nani would testify - and always remained solid.

On his Champions League debut Antonio Valencia got past Ibrahim Uzulmez on a couple of occasions, without being able to deliver a decent cross, while a neat back-heel from Nani released Patrice Evra inside the penalty area.

With Cristiano Ronaldo making a goalscoring bow for Real Madrid in Europe's elite competition, Evra has been given licence to get forward far more than in the past.

He skipped onto Nani's well-executed pass with relish and drove a low cross to the near post. But Michael Carrick was not in the greatest of positions and turned it meekly wide.

As the giant monitor showed Ronaldo thundering home on of his trademark free-kicks, it was hard not to think United are still missing the world player of the year.

How could it be any other way given he has been the star man in a team that has reached successive Champions League finals.

However, as tends to happen with players who are no longer around, their legend can often exceed the reality.

As he delivered his interval team-talk, Ferguson was no doubt reflecting that United had lacked a cutting edge at times even with Ronaldo in the team.

And, in a group where away points might end up being at a premium, starting their campaign with one would not be a disaster.

Not that any side managed by Sir Alex Ferguson would simply settle for a draw.

A brilliant cross from Nani caused havoc in the Besiktas area and when Matteo Ferrari failed to clear, Michael Carrick only needed a good bounce to threaten.

Unfortunately for the England man, he didn't get it and instead could only knee the ball goalwards, where it was scooped up by Hakan Arikan.

As the home side, Besiktas had an obvious incentive to keep pressing forward and if Paul Scholes had not stepped in to make one of his well-timed tackles, Ozkan might have been presented with a clear sight of goal.

Instead, it was Rodrigo Tabata who let fly, although Foster, producing another solid display, made a comfortable save.

The introduction of Dimitar Berbatov and Owen, who was making his first Champions League appearance for four-and-a-half years, meant the departures of Carrick and Rooney, who did not look impressed as he walked off.

Yet, disappointed as he was, Rooney is too much of a team man not to celebrate when United score.

Nani deserved all the credit for a blistering shot that Arikan saved but could not hold.

Not for the first time in his long career, Scholes was on hand to finish off the rebound.

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