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United in Europe

FIVE things we learned last night

1 United's defence is not what it used to be...

Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand used to form half of one of the best defences in modern English football history. But the two are on the down-slope of their careers now. Last night United were slack again.

2 but up front their strikers are firing beautifully

United's great strength is having two of Europe's better centre-forwards. Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie started together for the first time and combined for both goals. With Javier Hernandez starting too, Rooney took up a No 10 role but twice spotted Van Persie and played the perfect passes to set up goals.

3 Problems on both wings remain

After the frustrations of their wingers this season, United chose none of them last night. Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young were injured, Ryan Giggs stayed at home and Nani was on the bench. The downside was their midfield had very little outside of it, and United struggled to stretch Cluj.

4 Cleverley performance will take pressure off Scholes in midfield

Injuries last season denied Tom Cleverley the chance to play in the Champions League but this was a relaxed and confident performance by a midfielder who will help United to lose their dependence on Scholes.

5 Fletcher and Anderson can dominate opposition

Given Scholes's age and Michael Carrick's diffidence, United have lacked physicality in midfield. Darren Fletcher, wiry and rangy, and Anderson, shorter and stockier, are more willing and able to impact the game.


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