An early goal from Antonio Valencia had the Old Trafford faithful hoping that the floodgates would open, but they had to wait until the 87th minute for a second, when Wayne Rooney’s shot took a deflection off Cristian Sarghi to seal the victory.
After the game Sir Alex Ferguson spoke of the importance of getting three points against the Romanians.
“Winning was important. The opposition were very aggressive, they defended well, pressed us everywhere and made it difficult for us,” he told Sky Sports.
“The win makes it more comfortable for us at the top of the group and if we beat Benfica we win the group, it’s as simple as that. It should be a very good night.”
Ferguson started Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen in attack, but the English striker had to be replaced in the early exchanges with a new injury.
“It’s a blow for the lad. He’s done a thigh muscle and it’s a complete freak. I feel for him. It’s difficult to say how long-term it is,” the Scottish coach continued.
With the two fringe attackers starting up front, Rooney started in a central midfield role, and his manager was happy with the performance put in by the England star.
“I thought he was fantastic in central midfield. His awareness of people around him and choice of passing was really good. He did very well for us tonight.
“I think it’s a short-term thing at the moment. It’s difficult to say. The opposition played really well against us tonight but I’d be confident of playing him there (against bigger teams),” Ferguson concluded.
United received a boost in the other game in the pool, as Benfica dropped points by drawing 1-1 with Basel at the Estadio da Luz.
Rodrigo Moreno put the Portuguese side into the lead after less than five minutes, but the Swiss visitors fought back and a goal from Benjamin Huggel in the second half meant the spoils were shared.
United host Sunderland at Old Trafford on Saturday, and will look to make up ground on cross-town rivals and current league leaders Manchester City.
By Gareth McKnight