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United win group, Celtic fall in Denmark

6 December 2006 22:34

MANCHESTER/COPENHAGEN, Dec 6 (SW) - Manchester United finished top of Champions League Group F after a comprehensive win over Benfica and in part due to Celtic's loss away to FC København.

Manchester United - Benfica 2-1

Benfica were forced to defend early on as United came out playing at a lightning pace, but the Portuguese side stunned their hosts against the run of play when Nélson hit a wonder goal from 25 yards out in the 27th minute.

But immediately after that, Nélson was fortunate to get away with a handball in the area as the Red Devils put immense pressure on the Eagles' goal. However, they could not stop United just before half-time.

A free kick swung in from the left by Ryan Giggs found defender Nemanja Vidic, and the Serbian put a well-placed header past Quim.

United continued their pressure in the second half and Giggs got one of his own as Cristiano Ronaldo's right-wing cross found the Welshman in the area to loop a header past Quim on the hour mark.

Then, Louis Saha put the match away in the 75th minute as he beat Nélson to head home a corner kick by Darren Fletcher, who had just come on as a substitute.

Benfica, with their third-place finish, will now go into the last 32 of the UEFA Cup.

FC København - Celtic 3-1

A win would have given the Scottish a stunning first-place finish in the group, but they fell behind the Danes after just two minutes when Atiba Hutchinson capped off a fine move.

As stunned as the visitors were to go down early, they were just as stunned when FCK grabbed a second in the 27th minute when Jesper Grønkjær converted after a sequence in the area following a Tobias Linderoth corner kick.

Marcus Allbäck further extended the lead to 3-0 in the 57th minute before Jiri Jarosik got a consolation for Celtic 15 minutes from time.

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