The partisan Manchester United crowd at the Rogers Centre in Toronto were treated to one heck of a match Friday night as Dimitar Berbatov and the red-clad Man U defeated Celtic F.C. 3-1. The score line might be a little bit harsh on the Scottish side as it was truly a back-and-forth affair until very late in the match.
Berbatov was truly the difference tonight, playing the whole 90 minutes in a match where each team was granted nine substitutes for the early preseason competition. The 29-year old Bulgarian had a role in every score for Manchester United, scoring a goal and dishing out a pair of assists.
Despite the fact that only one goal was scored in the first half, it was certainly an open game. Both sides mounted some impressive possessions, but Man U was clearly the more dominant side, failing to convert on a number of shots on goal until finally scoring in the 34th minute. Celtic was getting plenty of space in the attacking third throughout the first 45 minutes, but couldn’t manage to link up on many crosses into the box.
The opening goal by Manchester United was a tribute to the hard work by the Red Devils. Gabriel Obertan, who had an impressive first half in his own right, got around a physical Celtic challenge before playing it up to Mame Biram Diouf on the left wing just outside the 18-yard box. Diouf quickly crossed it to the feet of Dimitar Berbatov, who would settle the ball with one touch and provide a clinical finish from 12 yards out.
Greek international Georgios Samaras entered the match at the start of the start of the second half, and made an immediate impact for Celtic. The 25-year old appeared to equalize in the 48th minute with a nice header off a free kick, but was correctly ruled to have been offside. Samaras did ultimately provide the tying goal, converting an outstanding penalty kick in the 61st minute.
19-year old Danny Welbeck, who entered the match as a sub midway through the second half, scored the go ahead goal for Manchester United in the 79th minute. After somehow playing the ball to Berbatov in the penalty area just right of goal. After Celtic keeper Lukasz Zaluska committed, Berbatov cooly cut it back to Welback, and provided the calm finish on the empty net.
The Red Devils would add another goal in the 87th minute to put the match out of reach for Celtic. After gathering the ball just outside of the left corner of the 18-yard box, Berbatov laid it off to Tom Cleverley with a crafty back heel. Cleverley struck from 19 yards out and received a fortuitous deflection off Celtic defender Darren O’Dea, squeezing just inside the left post.
Celtic, who fell 1-0 earlier this week to MLS opponent Philadelphia Union, will now head to Seattle to take on the Sounders on Sunday afternoon. Man U will travel to the Philadelphia to take on the Union Wednesday evening.