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Manchester United 2 Boca Juniors 1

Red Devils through to Audi Cup final

Manchester United are through to the Audi Cup final. In Wednesday evening's first semi-final at the Allianz Arena, the English champions narrowly defeated Boca Juniors 2-1 to seal a berth in Thursday's showdown for the trophy.

Responding to star midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme's intelligent prompting, the Argentine side made the better start and had United on the back foot. The lively Morel caused Sir Alex Ferguson's men no end of problems down the right flank, although Boca created little of note in front of goal. Battaglia's 18-yard effort after quarter of an hour represented the best opening.

Anderson in the corner

Instead, it was the Premier League champions who opened the scoring on 23 minutes, Anderson thumping a free-kick from the right channel into the top left corner to hand his side the lead. The Red Devils upped the tempo now, Wayne Rooney coming close to doubling the advantage on 39 minutes.

New signing Antonio Valencia went one better three minutes later, slotting home from a central position after good build-up play from Park and Rooney. The striker was more than aided and abetted by a howler from Boca keeper Roberto Abbondanzieri - a more than familiar figure to Bayern fans from a certain legendary clash with Getafe the season before last - who allowed the ball to squirm from his grasp and cross the line.

Boca on the attack

United were content to sit back and protect their lead after the restart, handing territorial control to Boca Juniors. Insua pulled one back before the hour after a sweet move down the right orchestrated by playmaker Riquelme. The South Americans launched wave after wave of attacks now in search of an equaliser.

But the storm blew itself out, and the English champions ran down the clock to claim the victory. Manchester United's first real test of the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era thus got off to a positive start.