Javier Hernandez struck an 85th-minute winner to give Manchester United only their second victory in 19 attempts against Spanish opposition in Spain with a 1-0 triumph over Valencia.

The Mexican drilled home Federico Macheda's cross to score his first competitive goal for United, and more importantly, give them a priceless three points against Valencia in the battle for supremacy in Champions League Group C.

United could hardly claim to deserve it after a midfield war of attrition in which neither side looked like breaking the deadlock - but after the disappointing draw with Rangers a fortnight ago, Sir Alex Ferguson will not care.

Having called for greater defensive solidity, the return of Rio Ferdinand ensured Ferguson got it and now United will hope to take that form into their Premier League challenge as well following recent hiccups.

Dimitar Berbatov last started a match in this competition in Moscow 11 months ago. It was 12 months prior to that since his last goal. He came close to ending the drought when he cut inside from the left touchline where he spent so much time and curled a shot just wide.

That represented the sum total of United's threat to the Valencia goal, although, with Ferdinand back to reinforce their own rearguard, they looked far more secure than in recent weeks and restricted their hosts to general pressure rather than clear-cut opportunities.

Their best came through a rare mistake from Edwin van der Sar, who completely failed to cut out Alejandro Dominguez's right-wing cross.

Roberto Soldado seemed to be waiting more in hope than expectation of getting his head on the ball and it showed as he reacted to what was actually a clear sight of goal far too slowly and turned it over.

Berbatov failed to take his second opportunity of the game when Cesar Sanchez made an important feet-first save, even if the Bulgarian had been trying to score from an acute angle.

Van der Sar needed to push away Manuel Fernandes' long-range effort before Soldado came close to turning home Aritz Aduriz's cross with a desperate attempt at a diving header. It looked for all the world like ending in a stalemate. Hernandez had other ideas.

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Topics:
European News
Federico Macheda
Dimitar Berbatov
Football
Edwin Van der Sar
Premier League
Alex
UEFA Champions League
Manchester United
Manuel Fernandes
Javier Hernandez
Rio Ferdinand