Sir Alex Ferguson may have got his excuses in early about Celtic being at a more advanced stage of their pre-season preparations, but his tanned charges showed little sign of early-season rustiness here on Tuesday night, finishing off Celtic with a display of sharp passing and outstanding performances from Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Martin O'Neill, the Celtic manager, said before the game that his side were living in a different world to United, but their previous friendlies have been feisty affairs, with Celtic more than a match. Perhaps feeling that his team had a point to prove, Ferguson said: "Celtic have done us a couple of times in testimonials in recent years. Our players were definitely up for the match."
The game was played against the stunning backdrop of the Seattle skyline in front of a near-capacity 66,722 crowd. The stadium's usual residents, the Seattle Seahawks American football team, have yet to attract a crowd as big.
Both sets of fans mingled before the match. Celtic fans sang, "Where's your Beckham gone?" but aside from one "David Who?" flag, the 400 United diehards seemed more interested in sizing up their American counterparts. The ever-enthusiastic Americans shouted, "Go Man U" and had banners like, "Man U Rocks!" - in contrast to a more subtle "0161 In The Area" flag offered by the visiting fans: same species, different breed.
United were in front after seven minutes when, with his back to goal, Van Nistelrooy received a short through-ball from Solskjaer. The Dutchman turned easily past Stanislav Varga before drilling a shot past Magnus Hedman.
Alan Thompson had a chance to level on 18 minutes, only to strike high and wide from the penalty spot. After 27 minutes and with echoes of his spectacular individual goal against Fulham, Van Nistelrooy picked the ball up in his own half and ran past three hooped shirts. With three defenders still to beat, he fed the ball to the unmarked Ryan Giggs who fired neatly into an open goal.
The game was effectively over six minutes before half-time when Solskjaer made light work of a potentially difficult finish following a clever ball from Gary Neville. United's fourth came on 72 minutes when the French winger David Bellion scored his first goal for his new club 12 minutes into his debut, finishing confidently from a tight angle.
Asked whether he would be indulging in more transfer activity, Ferguson claimed: "We're not doing any business at the moment. After the events of recent weeks, we've had to draw breath and analyse the situation."
Van Nistelrooy, who was named man of the match, added: "It doesn't matter that Ronaldinho didn't come. I'm not going to change my game and I hope to score many more goals." While few doubt Van Nistelrooy, many United fans worry about the lack of back-up should the Dutchman get injured.
Goals: Van Nistelrooy (7) 1-0, Giggs (27) 2-0, Solskjaer (39) 3-0, Bellion (72) 4-0.
Manchester United (4-4-2): Carroll; G Neville, Ferdinand, O'Shea, P Neville (Pugh 88); Butt (Richardson 74), Fortune (Scholes 66), Keane (Veron h-t), Giggs (Bellion 59); Solskjaer (Fletcher 74), Van Nistelrooy (Forlan 59). Substitutes not used: Ricardo, Lynch.
Celtic (4-4-2): Hedman; Smith (Mjallby h-t), Laursen (Lambert h-t), Varga (McNamara 74), Balde; Lennon (Kennedy h-t), Thompson (Sylla 74), Petrov (Maloney h-t), Agathe; Sutton, Larsson. Substitut
es not used: Fernandez, Douglas, Petta, Beattie, Miller, Crainey, Wallace.
Referee: Kevin Terry (US).Reuse content