London: Manchester United needed a rare goal from Anderson in a game bursting with missed chances for their more usual scorers to draw 1-1 with Valencia and secure top spot in Champions League Group C.
The 22-year-old Brazilian midfielder scored only his second goal since joining in 2007 to bring United level after the Spaniards had taken a first-half lead through Pablo Hernandez.
United needed to avoid defeat at Old Trafford to win the group and peppered the Valencia goal with chances before their hopes of becoming the first team to go through the group stage without conceding were dashed with the opener.
Dimitar Berbatov, who scored five goals in United’s 7-1 win in their last Premier League match against Blackburn Rovers, threatened to open the floodgates again but saw chances from his head and feet repeatedly blocked by keeper Vicente Guaita.
“Berba could have scored another five,” Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson told a news conference. “He was unlucky, the goalkeeper made two great saves from him.
“We played a lot of good football, we had a lot of good chances. I was pleased the penetration of the team was good but I just felt that about five minutes after we scored the goal, and we should have gone 2-1 up in that time, we started to settle for what we had and that is always a dangerous game. (It was) a lack of experience in the back there.”
Ferguson had fielded the 20-year-old Da Silva twins, Rafael and Fabio, on either side of experienced central defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. Ferdinand went off just after halftime with a tight hamstring and was replaced by 21-year-old Chris Smalling.