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United and Celtic in Champions League damp squib

sports Updated: Sep 18, 2008 12:02 IST

AFP
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Manchester United began their European Champions League title defence with a damp squib on Wednesday as wily Spaniards Villarreal held them 0-0 at Old Trafford, while Arsenal and Celtic also drew.

United similarly failed to batter down the same rivals - nicknamed the yellow submarine - home and away three seasons ago - and subsequently saw their group hopes embarrassingly sink without trace.

Celtic took a leaf out of Uinted's book as they could only manage another scoreless showing against Danish minnows Aalborg, coached by Scot Bruce Rioch, at Parkhead.

United fans welcomed back Cristiano Ronaldo into the fold after injury despite his overtures in the direction of Real Madrid for much of the summer but the Portugal winger was unable to oblige with a match-winning contribution after rising from the bench.

United had won their previous 12 home matches in the tournament going back to Villarreal's last visit - but Ronaldo, who netted 42 times last season including in the final win over Chelsea, and company drew a blank.

Jonny Evans hit the woodwork late on from a Ronaldo cross but United must now ensure they move swiftly on by collecting full points in Denmark in two week's time.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who says ten points should mean passage to the last 16, said he believed the Ronaldo saga was now resolved.

"He now realises what a great club he is at and how loyal and suppportive the fans are to him," said Ferguson, who added of the result: "I've no complaints.