Valencia goal enough to see off CSKA

CSKA Moscow 0 Manchester United 1
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The Independent Football

Antonio Valencia struck a late winner as Manchester United maintained their 100 per cent record in Champions League Group B at the expense of CSKA Moscow.

Chances had been at a premium on the artificial surface of the Luzhniki Stadium - scene of United's final victory in 2008 - but United finished strongly.

Valencia, who celebrated his first United goal last weekend, doubled his tally for the club five minutes from time, moments after rattling the crossbar with a fierce drive.

Nani had earlier gone close with a firm header from a Gary Neville cross while a bouncing 35-yard effort from Paul Scholes in the first half forced Igor Akinfeev to save.

United, who are now well on course for a place in the knockout stages, can now look forward to Sunday's Premier League trip to troubled rivals Liverpool in high spirits.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson, perhaps with Anfield in mind, made five changes from the side victorious over Bolton last time out.Nemanja Vidic returned to the centre of defence while John O'Shea and Scholes were included in central midfield.

Nani and Fabio also came in on the left and formed a good attacking partnership on a flank that proved United's most productive route forward.

Ferguson's suggestion the game would be played on the ground due to the nature of the pitch was true in the early stages as both sides began patiently.

CSKA had the first shot on goal when the dangerous Milos Krasic took advantage of hesitancy from his fellow Serb Vidic but fired wide from outside the box after a weaving run.

United began to assert themselves more midway through the first half and O'Shea had a cross headed clear by Sergei Ignashevich.

Fabio also found room to cross twice in quick succession but former Wigan star Valencia was first crowded out and then Akinfeev easily claimed.

Scholes, playing in a deep-lying role, had the visitors' first shot with a dipping long-range effort that bounced awkwardly and Akinfeev touched over for a corner.

CSKA responded with Alan Dzagoev lifting a ball into the box but Tomas Necid's header was of little concern to Edwin van der Sar.

United again attacked down the left and another Nani cross was just too high for lone striker Dimitar Berbatov at the far post.

Krasic, who looked CSKA's most threatening player, beat two defenders to create another chance just inside the area but shot across goal.

Nani again broke clear for United before the break but Neville shot over after the ball worked its way across goal.

United had a scare moments before the interval when a Dzagoev free-kick was cleared unconvincingly for a corner.

The second half got off to a lively start with chances at both ends.

Nani raced through from a Valencia backheel only to find no-one with his cross while Berbatov controlled well but saw his shot blocked.

Necid then brought down the ball brilliantly outside the United box but after doing the hard work, his shot was tame.

Deividas Semberas then shot well over and Dzagoev had the ball in the net before the hour but the flag had long since been raised for offside and home celebrations were quickly curtailed.

Berbatov flicked the ball into the area for United but his attempts to win a penalty from Aleksei Berezutski came to nothing when he was booked for diving.

United took Rio Ferdinand off with a third of the game remaining and created a chance soon after when Neville crossed for Nani but Akinfeev saved.

Michael Owen was introduced as a 71st-minute substitute for Scholes and had a fine opportunity when Valencia crossed five minutes later but he failed to connect with a volley.

Valencia went much closer eight minutes from time when he combined well with Berbatov and Nani on the edge of the area but his powerful shot rebounded off the woodwork.

Not to be denied, Valencia went one better five minutes from time when he latched onto a downward header from Berbatov and turned six yards out to lash in the winner.

United's only obvious concern came late on when Fabio was carried off on a stretcher, apparently with cramp.