Sport – Owen’s hat-trick breaks Wolfsburg’s hearts
WOLFSBURG: England striker Michael Owen demonstrated his finishing class with a hat-trick on Tuesday to seal Manchester United’s 3-1 victory at Day in Pics: December 8
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Wolfsburg to dump the Germans out of the Champions League.
After his first-half header, Owen slid home his second on 83 minutes before producing a superb effort in extra-time to claim his third and secure Sir Alex Ferguson’s side top spot in Group B.
CSKA Moscow’s 2-1 win at Besiktas put the Russians through as runners-up at Wolfsburg’s expense.
Bosnia and Herzegovina striker Edin Dzeko, who also scored in the first-leg at Old Trafford which United won last September, equalised for the Germans in the second-half only for Owen to make sure of the three points.
United came to Germany missing 14 first-team players and were left with just one fit regular defender as Ferguson opted to leave behind his stars Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Ryan Giggs.
Flu victim Nemanja Vidic stayed at home along with Gary Neville and Wes Brown, who both suffered injuries in Saturday’s 4-0 win at West Ham.
Longer-term absentees Rio Ferdinand, John O’Shea and Jonny Evans, plus Brazilian twins Fabio and Rafael da Silva were all unfit leaving France left-back Patrice Evra as the last first-team defender standing.
Ferguson opted for a back three of Evra, Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick with South Korean’s Ji-Sung Park and Brazilian Anderson on the flanks.
The first significant chance of the first-half fell to Wolfsburg’s Italian World Cup-winning defender Andrea Barzagli who headed over on 17 minutes from a corner with the goal at his mercy.
Wolfsburg operated with their hot-shot strikers Edin Dzeko — who has been linked to a transfer to United — and Brazil’s Grafite up front supported by Wolves’ play-maker Zvjezdan Misimovic, who also headed over on 21 minutes.
United’s Daniel Welbeck hit the back of the net after a clever pass from Anderson with half an hour played, but the effort was ruled offside.
With half-time beckoning Wolfsburg’s Makoto Hasebe fired over, but United grabbed the opening goal, against the run of play, when Nani swung in a cross England striker Michael Owen slipped his marker and headed home on 44 minutes.
But Wolfsburg began the second-half with plenty of fight and when Germany defender Marcel Schaefer whipped in a cross on 55 minutes Dzeko used his strength in the air to power his header past United goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak.
With 20 minutes left Grafite had a golden chance when a quick-ball out of defence from Wolfsburg ‘keeper Diego Benaglio was whipped by Misimovic into Grafite’s path, but the Brazilian fired wide.
With time running out, United replacement Gabriel Obertan put in a crisp pass which found Owen unmarked and the striker stabbed his shot home on 83 minutes before dribbling half the length of the field to then claim his third.
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