Manchester Utd 5 Nantes 1
Manchester United 5 Nantes Atlantique 1, Old Trafford, UEFA Champions League Group Stage, February 26, 2002. Manchester United had no problems in beating French Premier League Champions Nantes Atlantique as a brace from Norwegian international Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and one goal each from David Beckham, Mikael Silvestre, and Ruud van Nistelrooy carried the Old Trafford side to a 5-1 victory after The Canaries had taken a shock lead.
Manchester United had managed a hard fought 1-1 draw against Nantes Atlantique at the Stade Beaujoire in the first leg the week before, and the reigning English Premier League Champions started well in the return match, but it was the plucky visitors who managed to score the first goal. In the 17th minute of the UEFA Champions League fixture, Nantes gave Sir Alex Ferguson´s Manchester United an early scare when Cameroonian wing back Jean-Hugues Bilayi Ateba brilliantly crossed for forward thinking midfielder Frederic Da Rocha who handed the visiting team a 1-0 advantage. One minute later, however, Manchester United and England midfield architect David Beckham netted with a well taken free-kick which left Nantes shot stopper Mickael Landreau completely helpless, and from that point on the red shirts dominated the possesssion of the ball for the remainder of the match. After thirty minutes, Norwegian marksman Ole Gunnar Solskjaer recorded Manchester United´s second goal of the contest before a powerful header from defender Mikael Silvestre made it 3-1 to The Red Devils in the 38th minute of the first period. The Frenchmen came close to scoring just four minutes before the sound of the half-time whistle, but Da Rocha´s shot hit the foot of the upright.
Fifteen minutes following the resumption of proceedings, Manchester United almost netted their fourth goal of the evening when rocket-heeled flanker Ryan Giggs hit the post from close range. The Old Trafford club continued to launch attacks and it was only a matter of time before Ferguson´s men were to score again. After 64 minutes of action, Netherlands international striker Ruud van Nistelrooy was brought down by South American Nantes defender Nestor Fabbri inside the eighteen-yard area, and the goal plunderer extraordinaire stepped up to take the penalty himself which he duly converted. And with twelve minutes remaining of normal time, a free-kick by Beckham was met by the always opportunistic Solskjaer who headed the ball home to make the final score 5-1 to The Manchester Reds. Manchester United Team: Fabien Barthez, Denis Irwin, Gary Neville, Mikael Samy Silvestre, Juan Sebastian Veron, Laurent Blanc, David Beckham, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Ruud van Nistelrooy. Substitutes: Diego Forlan, Ronny Johnsen, Dwight Yorke, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, Roy Carroll. Nantes Team: Mickael Landreau, Nestor Fabbri, Mauro Cetto, Yves Deroff, Sylvain Armand, Mathieu Berson, Stephane Ziani, Jean-Hugues Ateba Bilayi, Eric Djemba-Djemba, Pierre-Yves Andre, Frederic Da Rocha. Substitutes: Nicolas Savinaud, Marama Vahirua, Olivier Quint.