CFR Cluj vs. Manchester United: Score, Analysis, Grades and More

Ben ChodosCorrespondent IIOctober 2, 2012

CLUJ-NAPOCA, ROMANIA - OCTOBER 02:  Robin van Persie of Manchester United is congratulated by Wayne Rooney of Manchester United and Tom Cleverley of Manchester United after he scored to make it 2-1 during the UEFA Champions League Group H match between CFR 1907 Cluj and Manchester United at the Constantin Radulescu Stadium on October 2, 2012 in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

The two winners from the first round of games in Group H of Champions League faced off, as Manchester United defeated CFR Cluj 2-1.

United defeated Galatasaray 1-0 two weeks ago while Cluj—last year's Romanian league champions—earned three points at the expense of Braga in a 2-0 victory. 

With Wayne Rooney healthy again, Sir Alex Ferguson put both him and Robin van Persie on the pitch, with the footballing world fascinated to see if these two players can be successful together. 

A slow start by United forced the two superstars to spark the team's attack. Cluj midfielder Modou Sougou found striker Pantelis Kapetanos on a low cross in the 14th minute to stun the Red Devils. 

Facing a 1-0 deficit and memories of last season's group-stage exit, Rooney curled a free kick into the box, and van Persie was able to equalize on a sloppy attempt that connected more with the striker's shoulder than his head. 

United's next goal was much more deliberate, as Rooney sent a ball over Cluj's defense and the Dutchman tapped the pass into the far corner of the net.

There was little excitement until stoppage time, when Rafael Bastos nearly scored on a diving header, forcing David De Gea to make a fine save. This was part of late surge by Cluj that was ultimately unable to provide an equalizer.



Wayne Rooney, Manchester United: A

Rooney was playing out of position in this game. With van Persie and Javier Hernandez taking care of the striking duties, the Englishman played deeper than usual, and acted as an attacking midfielder. 

He has proven in the past that he is an excellent distributor, and continued to make his case in this match. His service on the team's second goal was indicative of a top-class playmaker. 


Rafael Bastos, Cluj: B-

The Brazilian scored twice in his previous Champions League outing, but could not find the back of the net against tougher competition. The United defense clamped down on Bastos, and held him without a shot until the final moments of the match. 

Cluj needed Bastos to create opportunities if it was to have a chance to earn points in this contest. That did not happen, and Cluj ended up with its first defeat in Group H.


Robin van Persie, Manchester United: A

The Dutchman's ability to link up with Rooney in this match will give United fans an excellent reason to be excited about the remainder of their club's campaign. 

While his first strike needed some luck to get into the net, his second goal was an example of the magnificent finishing that caused Sir Alex to buy him this offseason. It appears that a van Persie goal on a Rooney assist will be a common occurrence this season. 


Pantelis Kapetanos, Cluj: B+

Cluj was significantly outmatched in this contest, forcing the team's strikers to be extremely efficient with their opportunities. Kapetanos only took two shots, and he put one past United goalkeeper David De Gea. 

He connected with teammate Modou Sougou's cross perfectly to put it into the far corner of the net. An early goal was necessary for Cluj to be competitive in the match, but unfortunately for Kapetanos, his defense was not able to hold.


Jonny Evans, Manchester United: C

Without Nemanja Vidic, the United back line has been worrisome. The errors continued in the game, as Patrice Evra allowed Sougou's cross to come far too easily. 

But the majority of the blame must be placed on Evans, who failed to track Kapetanos, and his desperate lunge to try and stop Sougou's service failed miserably. There was no reason for United to concede a goal so early, and the defense continued to be a weak spot in the Red Devils lineup. 


What's Next?

Group H's next slate of games is on Tuesday, October 23. United will return to Old Trafford to take on Braga, who won their second UCL match 2-0.

Galatasaray ended up on the wrong end of the scoreline in that 2-0 defeat, and they will head back home to host Cluj.