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 Sunday, December 5
Man U wins World Club Cup thriller
 
Reuters

 TOKYO -- Manchester United beat Palmeiras of Brazil 1-0 at Tokyo's National Stadium on Tuesday to become the first British club to win the World Club Cup.

Gary Neville
Man United defender Gary Neville, left, and Palmeiras midfielder Zinho battle for the ball.
A 35th-minute goal from United skipper Roy Keane was enough to bring United a fourth major honor of the year after winning the European Cup, the English league championship and the F.A. Cup last season.

The game between the European and South American champions started slowly but developed into a thriller and Keane's decisive strike came during a period when Palmeiras was in almost total control.

Ryan Giggs outpaced central defender Junior Baiano wide on the left in a swift counter-attack. Goalkeeper Marcos flapped at Giggs' cross, leaving Keane to sweep the ball into an empty net from 3 meters.

Palmeiras, bidding to become the first South American side to win the trophy since 1994, went close to scoring a half-dozen times in the second half with Alex spurning the best chance when he headed wide with only goalkeeper Mark Bosnich to beat.

Substitute Oseas was denied by a brilliant point-blank save by Bosnich minutes later. Eleven minutes from time, Bosnich brilliantly turned another drive from Alex.

United manager Alex Ferguson said Palmeiras was the better team in the first half, but his team came back strongly after the break and deserved the victory. It is the fifth successive year that the European champions have won the final.

"Because of the way Palmeiras played, we had to take certain risks and they paid off," Ferguson said. "We treated this match very seriously and badly wanted to win it because no English team had won it before and it has made us world champions.

"Manchester United can be very proud of that."

Palmeiras coach Luis Felipe Scolari said he was proud of his players, but that they had failed to take their chances.

"Manchester United proved tonight what a great team they are," he said. "We made enough chances to score, but United played very well and their goalkeeper pulled off three brilliant saves."

The match started slowly and United took control of the midfield with five men stretched across the middle, and Giggs and David Beckham finding room on the wings.

But as the first half wore on Palmeiras began to take control of the game with Alex, Zinho and Faustino Asprilla finding gaps in the United defence.

Giggs, who won a Toyota car after being named man of the match, had a superb opportunity to put the issue beyond doubt after 59 minutes following a mix-up in the Palmeiras defence.

But after being set up by substitute striker Dwight Yorke, who replaced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at halftime, Giggs fired narrowly wide with the goal at his mercy.

United defender Mikael Silvestre cleared a header off the line and it needed a string of fine saves by Bosnich to keep the often shaky United defense afloat.

United's victory means European teams have now won the trophy 18 times compared to the 20 victories boasted by South American teams. Since the match moved to Tokyo in 1980, each continent has won it 10 times.

 


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