Manchester United were lucky to come away with their first 3 points in this Champions League campaign after yet another uninspiring display against Romanian champions Otelul Galati.
Wayne Rooney scored both of two penalties awarded to last year’s finalists to make the difference on a night when neither team particularly shone.
With United failing to dominate in a match they should have had full run of, their Romanian counterparts had the opportunity to build their own attacks. Otelul Galati did force pressure onto the United defence with their attacking too.
The United defence were one of the more commendable elements of the team on the night staying strong on the whole. Our Man of the Match, Chris Smalling was the key man in a pretty solid back line.
After making most of his appearances at right back for the start of the season Smalling was back at his natural centre back role. He kept resolute throughout making some vital blocks and challenges to halt attacks from the Romanian side.
Smalling looked to begin attacks with clever passing from the back. In the absence of Phil Jones, whose charging runs forward can create attacks, and the smart-passing Rio Ferdinand, Smalling’s neat distribution provided ample opportunities for the attacking players to pick the ball up in space.
As one of United’s exciting young prospects it seemed as though Smalling would be able to form a future partnership with new boy Phil Jones. Jones has been particularly solid and instrumental for United so far this season, something Smalling lived up to against Otelul Galati. Proving the key defender on the night Smalling was strong in the challenge, powerful in the air and composed in possession.
When Vidic was questionably sent off in the 66th minute Smalling had his work cut out. Great concentration and maturity was needed from the youngster as United went a man down and lost a strong and experienced defender. Smalling stepped up to the task continuing to keep the Otelul Galati attackers quiet during their attempted attacks on the United defence.
United’s strongest and most effective player on the night prevented their opponents from scoring allowing his side to scrape through with a win. Smalling’s development during his time at United has really shown through and his experience shone last night as he dealt well with the dismal of his central defending partner. An impressive performance from young Chris Smalling against Otelul Galati gave United more signs of sustainability in their future.