Cristiano Ronaldo celebrated his return to Manchester United’s starting line-up with a goal as Manchester United defeated Middlesborough 3-1 in the Carling Cup, while Rodrigo Possebon was seriously injured following a nasty tackle.
Sir Alex Ferguson started a fairly well balanced side, featuring comeback boy Ronaldo and experienced players like Ryan Giggs and Nemanja Vidic, along with youngsters like rookie ‘keeper Ben Amos, Possebon and Rafael da Silva.
Though Afonso Alves and Stewart Downing threatened early on, they never quite tested the United defence.
25 minutes into the game, Cristiano Ronaldo headed home to put United ahead on the score sheet and also confirmed that the desire to excel hasn’t died in him.
Boro equalized just after the break when Adam Johnson caught his first-time volley perfectly, giving Amos little chance of keeping it out.
The game was well-contested until 'Boro captain Emanuel Pogatetz was sent off for a nasty tackle on youngster Possebon, who had an impressive outing up until the incident.
The 'Boro captain got to the ball just in front of Possebon as the pair went for it in fully committed fashion.
But Pogatetz's dangerous follow-through cut Possebon down, a nasty gash instantly appearing on the Brazilian's right leg as he yelled in agony.
Possebon was given medical treatment on the field before being carried off straight to the hospital. Darren Gibson came on as a replacement.
With a numerical advantage, United took the lead when Giggs calmly chipped the ball into the net off O’Neill, who had tried to control a long ball from Gibson.
Nani wrapped up the match in the stoppage time by adding a goal to his name.
Ferguson was completely livid regarding the tackle on Possebon and launched a scathing attack on Pogatetz.
''The thing that gets me about challenges like that is that the opponent always claims he has done nothing wrong," the United manager said.
''He [Pogatetz] should have just walked off the field. Then you get their bench screaming that is wasn't a sending-off and there is nothing wrong with our player.
''At least Gareth Southgate was very good about it. He apologised and understood the gravity. It was an absolutely terrible tackle.''
Boro boss Southgate branded the challenge "poor" and admitted members of his bench had stepped out of line.
"A couple of lads on our bench did not have the same view as I did but that is dealt with now," said Southgate.
''We can have no complaints about the decision. It is difficult to know why it happened. It was an unusual aberration for him because his discipline has improved in the last two years.'
Meanwhile, reports have been confirmed that midfielder Rodrigo Possebon did not suffer a broken leg, which was a welcome news for everyone.
Though Possebon faces further tests to determine the extent of the damage to his leg, with fears remaining that he may have damaged knee ligaments in the incident.