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Scholes on song in Turkey

Playing in a raucous Turkish atmosphere - where the home fans roar whatever the score - quietening the crowd was not an option for United. But nevertheless, the Reds produced the consummate European away performance to bag three points and take a giant step towards the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

The importance of the Bursaspor game was reflected in Sir Alex’s team selection. For me, the gaffer got it spot on with the midfield in particular controlling proceedings from the offset.

This match was made for Paul Scholes. European away fixtures are all about keeping the ball and boy, did he keep the ball. At times I thought there was at least four of him on the pitch; he always seemed to be in space, acting as an escape route for his team mates and when he was on the ball, what a sight to behold.

We’ve seen it so many times before but when Scholesy's on form there is hardly a player in the world who can touch him. Controlling the game from deep, as he often does nowadays, some of his passes were magic, particularly a first-time 40-yard raker to Berbatov in the first half. He was unlucky not to get the goal he deserved as his first half strike was (rightly) ruled out but he made up for it with a terrific reverse ball to set up Bebe (or was it Ali Tandogan?) for United’s third.

Another midfielder who stood out for me was Michael Carrick. He seems to be slowly edging back to the scintillating form shown in the 2007/08 double-winning season and I think we saw some vintage Carrick in the second half when he was breaking up play and finding his intended target with numerous first-time passes. His assist for Fletcher’s goal was also expertly executed.

Some might say I’m going over the top with my praise of United’s performance,given the strength of the opposition, but while Bursaspor offered little in attack, their defensive strategy worked for 48 minutes. Although the Reds had control of the game, the home side's tireless chasing made it difficult for United to find any rhythm. However, just like in Valencia a little over a month ago, you knew it wouldn’t last and so it proved as the Reds ran riot in the second half.

UEFA might have taken his goal away but Bebe's involvement will still do his confidence the world of good and further defy the critics who've harshly dogged him since his surprise arrival. One lung-busting run from the halfway line showed he has pace to burn as well as an eye for goal.

Speaking after the game, Sir Alex said he was pleased by the impact of his younger contingent and the experience they're gaining - and also by the way his midfielders are chipping in with goals. A healthy return of goals from midfield - reminiscent of the days of Beckham, Giggs, Keane and Scholes - would be a big plus for the Reds this season.

The only minuses on an otherwise excellent European night were the injuries to Fletcher and Nani. The worry shown by all as the two exited proceedings shows how important the two players are for United - here's hoping they make a swift recovery, if not for Wolves on Saturday, then certainly for City next Wednesday.

We head into those two league matches in a terrific vein of form, on the back of five straight wins in three competitions. Just as the cold weather sets in, and big games loom, the Reds are warming up nicely.
The views expressed in this article are personal to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Manchester United FC.

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