MANCHESTER (AFP) - Wayne Rooney saved Manchester United from an embarrassing Champions League defeat at home to Aalborg on Wednesday, but the striker was lucky to avoid a red card for a first-half foul on Kasper Risgard during this 2-2 draw.
England striker Rooney scored a crucial equaliser on 52 minutes to extend United's unbeaten run in the Champions League to 19 games - a record shared with Ajax and Bayern Munich.
But Sir Alex Ferguson's team were unconvincing and although defeat would have been a setback, the loss of Rooney to suspension could potentially have been much more damaging.
"There were some great chances," Ferguson said. "We should have taken at least 30 percent of them and then we would have won the game comfortably.
"We should have won the game, but the good thing is we won the group which we wanted to do and our unbeaten record remains, which is good."
Topping the group means United will play the second leg of their knockout tie at home and Ferguson feels that could be an advantage.
"(We will) come to Old Trafford with a full house and a really good atmosphere," he said. "We are there, have got the track record and the players so let's go and have a go."
Rooney admitted this Aalborg side was a lot better than the one United had beaten 3-0 in Denmark in October.
"We know we can play a lot better," he said. "Aalborg were definitely a better team than we played in the first game. But with the players we have we should be winning these games.
"In the first half the tempo of our game wasn't good and they caught us on the counter-attack a few too many times. I think in the second half we could have won the game."
With United already assured of their place in the December 19 draw for the Champions League knock-out stages, Ferguson rang the changes against the Danish champions, making nine changes from the team that defeated Sunderland at Old Trafford last Saturday.
Cristiano Ronaldo, sidelined due to the hip injury sustained in that 1-0 victory, made a brief appearance on the pitch before the game, however, when he was presented with the Ballon d'Or by Denis Law and Sir Bobby Charlton - two of United's three, along with the late George Best, previous European Footballers of the Year.
Even without Ronaldo, United would not have expected to be troubled by an Aalborg team treading water in mid-table in the Danish League, and the European champions appeared to be threatening a rout when they took the lead from their first attack after just three minutes.
A swift one-two between Ryan Giggs and Rooney led to Giggs releasing Tevez inside the Aalborg penalty area and the Argentina striker ruthlessly took his chance by guiding a first-time left foot shot past goalkeeper Karim Zaza.
Rooney and Tevez proved a lethal double act at times last season, but their partnership has been broken up by the arrival of Bulgarian hitman Dimitar Berbatov.
The pair showed signs of their old understanding, however, as they tore apart the Aalborg defence in the early stages and Tevez should have scored a second when he shot wide from fifteen yards after being picked out by Rooney.
Tevez then sent a glancing header from Rooney's cross wide of the far post on 23 minutes as United maintained the pressure, but Aalborg were able to withstand the pressure and they stunned United by equalising on 31 minutes.
Anders Due's in-swinging free-kick from the right flank was met with a backwards header from Michael Jakobsen and his contact was enough to take the ball past goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak.
Four minutes before half-time, Rooney then had his lucky escape when French referee Laurent Duhamel failed to spot his foul when he placed his studs in Risgard's chest.
Aalborg were angry at the referee's failure to spot the incident, but they made United pay in perfect fashion by grabbing a shock lead when Jeppe Curth headed in Due's cross two minutes into injury time.
United responded well in the second-half, though, and Rooney hauled them level when he rifled in from 20 yards after being released by Brazilian midfielder Anderson.
But although the home side poured forward in search of a winner, Aalborg held out and the visitors claimed a deserved draw.
|Coach: A. Ferguson|
for D. Gibson 46'
for R. Giggs 46'
for G. Neville 77'
|Buffon´s 50-game Champions League run comes to an end|
|Santi Cazorla gives Achiles surgery two thumbs up|
|Video technology to assist referees at FIFA Club World Cup|
|Spalletti wants winning mentality to continue for Roma|
|M´Vila rejects Sunderland return|
|Robson-Kanu prioritised Premier League move, despite Atleti interest|
|Puel dismisses Fonte departure speculation|
|Mourinho rejects ´best coach in the world´ tag|
|Manchester United not giving up on Premier League, insists Mkhitaryan|
|Infantino favours 16 three-team groups at World Cup - report|
|Europa League an ´important competition´ for Mourinho|
|Brozovic extends Inter stay|
|Rooney still has England future - Hodgson|
|New wardrobe top of Jesus´ Manchester to-do list|
|Pioli not concerned by Simeone´s Inter comments|
|Poyet: It would be a pleasure to sign Tevez|
|Celtic charged by UEFA over crowd disturbances|
|Not extending Man United stay my only regret - Larsson|
|Aubameyang´s mum: He always spoke about Madrid, never Barcelona|
|AC Milan sale delayed until March|
|Police horse burger thrower fined|
|Nolito comfortable with Guardiola´s rotation policy|
|Ajax expect in-demand Bazoer to exit|
|Not even the Golden Boot would get me an England recall, says Defoe|
|MLS MVP Villa has no interest in Premier League move|
|Vidal: I never had a problem with Luis Enrique|
|Ancelotti not keen on Madrid Champions League reunion|
|Zabaleta: Guardiola needs Iheanacho more than ever|
|Ranieri not fearful of Foxes chop|
|Celtic fan arrested for throwing burger at police horse|
|Dad-to-be Lewandowski reveals baby news with goal celebration|
|Klopp´s Liverpool watched Barca at Camp Nou|
|Wenger braced for tough last-16 draw|
|Roberts buoyed by Guardiola acclaim|
|Gladbach´s Alvaro Dominguez retires at 27|
|Simeone satisfied with aggressive Atletico|
|Emery aims to bounce back after European disappointment|
|Madrid demand ´maximum respect´ for Ronaldo|
|No pressure on Iheanacho to fill Aguero´s boots - Guardiola|
|Cocu praises PSV effort despite European exit|
|Ancelotti hoping for confidence boost|
|Gunes takes blame for Besiktas thrashing|
|Vitoria upbeat despite Napoli defeat|
|Arda Barca future brighter after hat-trick|
|Le Tissier makes ´naked massage´ claims|
|´He has a smell for the goal´ - Wenger hails hat-trick hero Lucas|
|Guardiola to assess Roberts situation at end of season|
|Napoli have no fear - Reina|
|Iheanacho shines but Guardiola concerns lie deeper|
|Barcelona pass masters set new Champions League benchmark|
|Dybala ready to return for Juventus|
|PSV 0 Rostov 0: Russians seal Europa League spot with stalemate|
|Paris Saint-Germain 2 Ludogorets 2: Di Maria rescues draw but PSG miss out on top spot|
|Benfica 1 Napoli 2: Super-sub Mertens seals top spot|
|Dynamo Kiev 6 Besiktas 0: Nine-man visitors crash out|
|Messi fails to match Ronaldo´s Champions League record|
|Basel 1 Arsenal 4: Lucas hat-trick helps Gunners clinch top spot|
|Manchester City 1 Celtic 1: Roberts scores against parent club|
|Bayern Munich 1 Atletico Madrid 0: Lewandowski free-kick the difference in Bavaria|
|Barcelona 4 Borussia Monchengladbach 0: Arda hat-trick lights up Barca procession|
|Zidane ´more sympathetic´ than other Madrid coaches, says Ramos|
|Bartra eager to square up against old rivals Madrid|
|Pardew´s job is ´totally safe´ - Palace chairman|
|Shelvey and Dummett red card appeals successful|
|Lopes doubtful for Sevilla clash due to lack of sleep|
|Real Madrid test will bring the best out of Aubameyang - Tuchel|
|Slutsky to leave CSKA Moscow|
|Genesio hails Valbuena character|
|Spurs hungry for Europa League football - Vertonghen|
|Deschamps claims Pogba is unlikely to ever win Ballon d´Or|
|Xavi: Barca have not lost their essence|
|Strootman banned for sparking Rome derby brawl|
|Mkhitaryan accepts blame for slow start at United|
|New York City star Villa named MLS MVP|
|Ramos distances himself from tax avoidance scandal|
|Witsel casts doubt on January Juventus switch|
|Schmidt has faith in misfiring Hernandez|
|Gabriel not happy at Inter, says agent|
|PSG just another game for returning Balotelli|
|Dortmund eye top spot and a goalscoring record - Champions League in Opta numbers|
|Southgate bids farewell to England assistant Lee|
|Europa League can help Spurs end Wembley hoodoo - Pochettino|
|Watmore´s season ended by injury|
|Zidane: Dortmund clash is a final|
|Gotze to miss Madrid test|
|Lacazette to ponder Lyon future|
|Griezmann lauds ´world class´ Aubameyang|
|Sporting´s in-demand Gelson going nowhere, claims agent|
|FA appoints new lead QC as scope of child sexual abuse review is outlined|
|Hodgson: England players failed to grasp my instructions|
|Xhaka pleads for time to settle in at Arsenal|
|Kluivert urges PSG to learn from Montpellier humbling|
|Augenthaler tips Bayern captain Lahm to play on|
|Rodgers: Celtic growing in confidence in Europe|
|Brazil-Colombia friendly proposed to raise money for Chapecoense|
|If you don´t play, you can´t shine - Hummels urges Mourinho to believe in Mkhitaryan|
|Ronaldinho ready to help Chapecoense|
|United can still finish top four - Guardiola|
|Bale´s ankle ´feeling better every day´|
|Sarri: Napoli in Lisbon to win|
|Watford and West Brom hit with FA charge|
|Karanka delighted with Boro´s game management|
|Middlesbrough 1 Hull City 0: Ramirez sinks sorry Tigers|
|Can Arsenal break the Basel curse? The Champions League in Opta Numbers|
|Everton confirm serious knee injury for Bolasie|
|Stam set for Old Trafford reunion in FA Cup third round|
|Sanchez, Ozil contract talks not just about money - Wenger|
|It is normal my son says I´ll coach Inter, I will - Simeone|
|Chapecoense confirmed as Copa Sudamericana champions|
|Sullivan backs Bilic to reverse Hammers´ fortunes|
|It was close...very close - Hummels reveals level of Man United interest|
|What You Might Have Missed: An FA Cup comeback of all comebacks and Monaco can´t stop scoring|
|Preston fans to be refunded from Beckford, Doyle fight fines|
|In-demand Lindelof ´happy to stay at Benfica´|
|FA charges City and Chelsea for late fracas|
|Darmstadt sack coach and sporting director after dismal run|
|Anyone who says they would not sign Messi is a liar! - Caballero|
|Roberto warns Madrid: Barcelona will cut the gap|
|Emery: Champions League top spot was always PSG´s priority|
|Guardiola brands Sanchez transfer rumours as lies|
|Boateng ruled out of Bayern´s clash with Atletico|
|FA confirms four-game ban for Aguero|
|Blatter FIFA ban remains after CAS dismisses appeal|
|Luis Enrique: I don´t give a damn about beating Gladbach|
|Emre hits out at Allardyce´s style... and slams his chewing gum|
|Bravo the world´s best goalkeeper, says Pellegrini|
|Ibrahimovic: I know how to kick someone and make him fall asleep|
|Barcelona and Real Madrid would not win 5-0 in Ligue 1 - Verratti|
|Seedorf out, Eriksson in at second-tier Chinese club|
|Tevez to China? Shanghai Shenhua claim ´breakthrough´ in talks|
|´English football is not more pure´ – Pochettino will not slam Alli for ´dive´|
|Gudjohnsen offers his services to Chapecoense|
|Savicevic: Champions League qualification paramount for Milan|
|Wenger: West Ham could take two years to settle|
|River Plate play in green as tribute to Chapecoense|
|Roberto Carlos open to coaching in A-League|
|Wenger confident there is more to come from Arsenal|
|Kane wants to see out career at Tottenham|
|Aguero challenge labelled ´crazy´ by disappointed Cahill|
|Mourinho ´has nothing to hide´ over tax affairs|