Luis Alberto struck a sensational winner as CFR Cluj bowed out of the Champions League with a famous 1-0 triumph at an under-strength Manchester United in Group H.
The Brazilian midfielder crashed home his first goal in the competition with a 25-yard screamer on 56 minutes as they were forced to settle for a Europa League spot despite a shock success at Old Trafford.
The Romanians had looked on course to join group winners United in the knockout stage but missed out after Galatasaray came from behind to win in Braga and pip them to second-place courtesy of a better head-to-head record.
The Red Devils came into the contest with one eye on Sunday’s titanic Premier League clash with neighbours Manchester City.
The hosts knew that the result on the final matchday would be academic to their status as group winners and Alex Ferguson inevitably rung the changes.
However, the Romanian outfit began brightly and were unlucky not to take the lead on nine minutes. A mistake by Chris Smalling gave Rui Pedro a sight of goal but his shot hit the knees of David de Gea and bounced to safety.
The Portuguese attacker then fed Modou Sougou who looked all set to score until a great block by Scott Wootton saw his effort deflect just wide.
United improved as the half wore on and Cleverley was brilliantly denied by Felgueiras before Powell saw a goalbound shot blocked.
Felgueiras then produced more top drawer saves to keep out Welbeck and Rooney before Smalling somehow put a free header from six yards out past the post.
It would prove to be the best spell of action for the hosts as Cluj came out in the second half and snatched the lead on 56 minutes.
Substitute Paul Scholes lost the ball in midfield, allowing Luis Alberto to pick up possession, race at goal and unleash a wonderful strike that arced into the top corner.
The visitors dropped deeper and deeper as the clock ticked down but despite holding on to secure a memorable night in Romanian football's history, they ultimately bowed out of the Champions League in a blaze of glory.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Mario Felgueiras - CFR Cluj: A stunning display by the Cluj stopper who pulled off a string of magnificent saves to help clinch a famous win for his side on a bitter-sweet night.
MANCHESTER UNITED: De Gea 6, Jones 7, Smalling 6, Buttner 6, Wootton 6, Cleverley 6, Giggs 6, Powell 6, Rooney 6, Hernandez 5, Welbeck 6. Subs: Scholes 6, Fletcher 5, Macheda 5.
CFR CLUJ: Felgueiras 8, Pinto 7, Piccolo 7, Cadu 7, Rada 7, Camora 7, Muresan 7, Bastos 7, Luis Alberto 8, Pedro 7, Sougou 7. Subs: Maftei 6, Aguirregaray 6, Kapetanos 5.
MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS
- Related links