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15 Sep 2010

Wayne Rooney's return failed to inspire Manchester United as they were frustrated by the defensive defiance of Rangers in the Champions League at Old Trafford.

Rooney was back in action after being left out at Everton on Saturday in the aftermath of allegations about his private life as Sir Alex Ferguson surprisingly made 10 changes from the team that drew at Goodison Park.

And he was a subdued figure as United ran into the massed ranks of a Rangers rearguard action, with the Scottish champions sticking doggedly to the gameplan devised by manager Walter Smith.

United, with Ryan Giggs a substitute and Paul Scholes and Dimitar Berbatov not even on the bench, rarely looked like piercing the Rangers defence and were eventually reliant on the long-range efforts of Darron Gibson as their only serious source of threat.

Ferguson will at least be able to reflect on the positive note of Rio Ferdinand playing his first 90 minutes of senior action since sustaining a knee injury at the World Cup - but a serious ankle injury suffered by Antonio Valencia in the second half cast a further shadow over a subdued Old Trafford evening.

Rangers did not mount a serious threat to Manchester United goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak, deputising for the rested Edwin van der Sar, preferring instead to concentrate on claiming a crucial point from their opening group game.

And it was a ploy met with total satisfaction by the Rangers fans as they celebrated the draw after six tense minutes of stoppage time as a result of Valencia's injury.

Ferguson will be left to reflect on a disappointing opening result, and on a team selection that saw United run out of ideas long before the final whistle sounded.

Ferguson's wholesale reshuffle of resources did not persuade Rangers to depart from their trademark European gameplan of blanket defence - and the opening period soon became a war of attrition between attack and defence.

Rangers striker Kenny Miller cut a lonely figure as goalkeeper Allan McGregor was protected by the massed ranks of Smith's well-drilled rearguard.

Javier Hernandez almost broke through with a header that flashed just wide early on before Rooney failed to find him in the area with an opportunity he may have been better accepting himself.

Gibson's powerful shooting was offering United's best hope as he was narrowly off target from distance either side of the interval.

There was an anxious moment for United late in the first half when Rooney pulled up after appearing to turn his ankle, but he was able to shrug off the problem and resume after the break as the familiar pattern continued.

United then suffered a blow when Valencia sustained a serious ankle injury after a challenge with Kirk Broadfoot. Valencia's colleagues appeared to place no blame whatsoever on the Rangers' defender, who also looked distressed after the incident.

Giggs replaced Valencia after a lengthy break in play while he was placed on to a stretcher by medical staff and taken away to sympathetic applause.

Rangers had shown rare signs of ambition in the second half, and they were furious when referee Olegario Benquerenca ignored claims for a penalty as Broadfoot went down in the area under Chris Smalling's awkward challenge.

Ferguson had seen enough of United's struggles to pierce the Rangers defence and decided on a double change with less than 20 minutes left, sending on Michael Owen and Jonny Evans for Ji-Sung Park and Fabio.

Rangers made a change of their own as the clock ticked down, replacing the tireless Miller, who had fought against the odds all evening, with Kyle Lafferty.

And he simply took on the role of the workhorse Miller as Rangers survived in comfort to earn a well-deserved draw.

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