Full-time - 90'
4 - 1
19:45 +00:00, November 3, 2004
Old Trafford, England
Referee: Alain Hamer
Typical predatory goals by Ruud. Only the third goal did he have to work for, Sparta gifting the rest. But the result is what counts and United march on!
And that's it. United win 4-1. Ruud bagging the lot. The home side were sloppy at times and against better, more clinical finishing could have been punished.
Old Trafford find their voice and the Red Flag is flying.
RVN, quite clearly a yard offside, tapped in a simple goal from a Liam Miller cross. You can't argue with a four goal haul in the Champions League!
A fourth goal for Ruud!
Nice work from an unselfish Rooney who feeds the ball to RVN but he can't reach the ball.
Three added minutes signalled.
Pacanda wins a corner for Sparta and Simak takes, but it comes to naught
Poborsky is sent off for a second yellow card. He fouled Heinze plain and simple, but there was no malice. Nice touch from the Manchester United fans who applaud their former player as he trudges off the pitch and down the tunnel.
Zelenka - who has run Poborsky close as Sparta best player - breaks forward but loses the ball.
Kleberson again tries to pass the ball out of play, but this time Heinze checks his run and is able to gather.
Rooney carves open a hole in the left wing, darts through it and provides a pass for Keane who tries his luck on the edge of the box with half volley which ends in Row F.
The match is drawing out. United are easing back and Sparta, despite the subs, seem to be resigned to their fate.
Double change for Sparta - Off go Urbanek and Jun, on come Pacanda and Simak.
Sivoc has a claim for a penalty against Roy Keane but the ref is not interested. The tackle was on the edge of the box and it looked like Keane got none of the ball but a lot of the player
Freekick given against Sparta. A bit harsh that, Petras leapt high to head a, you guessed it, Poborsky freekick toward Carroll's goal, but the ref spotted a foul.
Kleberson does his reputation no harm by slotting a simple ball out of play when it seemed easier to find Heinze. I say reputation, but its not one you'd want is it?
Fair play to Sparta, they have yet to let their heads drop and continue to chase the loose balls and try to forge chances on the break, but United are on top of things.
Poborsky yet again (will he ever let anyone else kick a deadball?) lofts in a dangerous ball towards the United goal. But again fearless Carroll shows scant regard for his face and despite lots of elbows, knees and feets gathers the ball.
Now a change for Sparta - goodnight Vorisek, good evening Meduna...score a goal, I dare you!
Kovac marshals Mr Rooney well on the right touchline and the Wunderkind is bullied off the ball.
A lull in the game. The crowd cheer themselves up by singing about Eric Cantona.
Double subsitution for United: Farewell Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes, hello Kleberson and Phil Neville.
Liam Miller has shot but is also denied.
United are just proving too stong tonight. Their goals have not been spectacular but they've been enough to see off Sparta who have not made enough of their chances.
From the central freekick, 10 yards outside the area, Ronadlo fires in a great drive but is denied.
Yellow card for Homola after a late tackle on RVN. He now misses the next game against Fenerbache.
Ronaldo charges down a loose ball but Blazek is off his line quickly to smother.
The former United winger takes the corned but it fails to beat the first man and United break ominously
Poborsky tries to lift Sparta and he has a chance as the visitors win a corner
Ruud van Nistelrooy claims his hattrick after Sparta failed to clear an innocuous hopeful ball from the back. It bounced awkwardly through the defenders and RVN pounced to lift the loose ball over the on-rushing Blazek.
Goal for United!!
The freekick is whipped in from the right by Poborsky, RVN gets in Carroll's way but the keeper claims it.
Yellow card to Wes Brown for a ridiculously bad tackle on Jun.
Good work from both Poborsky who challenged Heinze, but the Argentine was equal to the winger - goal kick
Kudos to the United fans who find their voices and try to lift their heros on the pitch. No prawn sandwiches in sight!
Keane drives United forward clearly irked by the fact that his men have let the visitors back into this game which should have been all but dead.
Terrible goal from Unted's point of view - shocking marking and no pressure. But, for Sparta a great passing move involving Zelenka and Urbanek ended in the blond-haired Zelnka collecting a one-two in the box and finishing with aplomb! Game on!
Goal for Sparta!
Sadly nothing comes from the deadball and we're left waiting for something meaningful from Sparta
Foul against Ferdinand who is ruled to have fouled a suspiciously unbalanced Jun
A little touch of verbal sparring between keeper Blazek and Keane after the two clash for a loose ball in the area.
Sivok moves play forward for Sparta, but the move is over all too quickly as Ferdinand cleans up at the back
Good run from Rooney, who, after dropping deep, linked up with RVN and dribbled past three players before having his final ball blocked.
A no-nonsense clearance from Heinze! The ball almost came down with snow on it.
Ronadlo is on the deck and is rubbing his hip after landing on the bone after being up-ended by a strong, but fair tackle. Magic sponge, please.
Well, no changes at Old Trafford, so as we get back underway it's 'as you were' for United and Sparta.
The home side must not get complacent though. There are signs that Sparta are capable, Poborsky, Jun, Vorisek, Urbanek and Zelenka are all good players and have not had the luck, maybe they'll get some in the second half, keep it here!
But United are good value for their lead and are deservedly in front. While Sparta have had their chances they've failed to convert them thanks to profligate finishing. But United have pretty much bossed midfield.
A great half's entertainment. United benefited from two mistakes from Sparta. That sloppy back pass will haunt Homola as will the rash tackle from Petra that felled Scholes for the penalty.
And that's halftime.
Right awat at the other end a great save from Blazek denies Ronaldo who charged down on the Sparta goal from a quick break!
What did we just say? Great chance for Sparta - Poborsky fired in a sweet ball from the right and between them Jun and Zelenka draw two great saves from Carroll!
To be fair to Sparta they have a lot of technique, and skill they are no mugs, it is just that they have been missing the final ball.
Great promising passing move from Sparta ends with United clearing their lines somewhat nervously.
But again possession is conceded and United are off the hook.
Rooney caught on the ball and Sparta break forward with Tomas Sivok
Running in Radoslav Kovac connects but his glancing header goes wide and Jun can't quite reach the ball as it rolls out.
Freekick to Sparta on the right wing, Poborsky to take.
Now, lets get something moving Sparta. Building from the back Homola moves forward and finds...Jun offside, Oh dear. Started well Sparta...Half time rocket please for the visitors.
Good football from Ronaldo and Heinze who link up down the left. The final ball, aimed at RVN, is headed out well by Petras. Good move, well defended.
Urbanek steps up and tries his luck with a dipping left foot effort, but it is too high and anyway Carroll had it covered.
Miller gets the first yellow card of the night for a rash tackle from behind on Poborsky. Freekick 35 yards out in a central position. Dangerous.
One pass too many! Zelenka hasn't the space to pick out Jun and as a result a promising Sparta move fizzles out.
Heinze concedes a freekick for a foul on Poborsky. The resulting ball is aimed at Homola who is up from the back, but he can't connect.
Petr Vorisek tries his luck but it ends out of bounds and Carroll has a goal kick - Sparta showing signs of getting some rhythm back in their game.
A decent run from Poborksky ends with him again cutting in from the right and firing in on Carroll's goal, the shot is spilled and long range effort flies in - a sign there that Sparta are capable and United need to be professional.
Sparta really are having problems retaining possession with Miller, Scholes and Roy Keane doing sterling work hustling in the middle of the park.
Martin Petras takes a throw deep in United territory, but no sooner has Ales Urbanek got the ball under his control and he's tackled and the Red Devils break.
United have got the measure of the visitors, who despite some decent players and strength up front, are weak at the back. United's power and pace in attack has exploited their frailty.
The keeper dives right as Ruud slots the ball home to the left, and RVN has two inside 25 minutes!
Penalty to United!!
Sparta concede possession sloppily and United break forward through Scholes
A ball over the top from Rooney finds RVN in a shooting position. The ball dropped over the striker's shoulder but he swung his leg and only hit thin air - a chance missed.
Ronaldo over-hits a freekick on the edge of the Sparta penalty area
A quick break from Sparta results in a corner but the visitors are luckless from the deadball.
Scholes misses an easy chance and rightly looks furious with himself. Ronaldo again conjured a cross, Ferdinand mishit a shot and it spooned up for Scholes to head home, but his got the direction wrong and Sparta are let off.
Sparta have not regrouped after the goal and look rattled, which is a shame as they started brightly
Slight lull in the atmosphere at OT as the home fans settle back and wait for the flood gates to open
Carroll does his face no favours by rushing to smother the ball while it was still at Jun's feet. Result? Foot in Roy's face. Unintentional and the keeper leapt straight up, but modelling is not going to be a second career now. Not that is ever was...
Ronaldo pressed Jiri Homola to pass back to his keeper. Sadly for Sparta Homola failed to spot Ruud van Nistelrooy in acres of space. RVN collected the ball, rounded the out-rushing keeper to roll the ball home. Taxi for Homola!
GOAL for RVN!
United press but after a poor cross from Rooney Sparta break - too many men up for the home team and were it not for a loose pass Sparta were in
Bright start for United, but slack passing from United has allowed Sparta the chance to show they are more than just cannon-fodder
A great chance for Tomas Jun, but he could only hit the volley wide. Signs that the highly rated Jun has the talent to threaten - United must watch for crosses and swift balls on the deck from wide positions.
Great save from Sparta's keeper, Jaromir Blazek. Rooney hit a fierce drive straight at the keeper after some neat footwork from Ronaldo
No lack of confidence from Rio Ferdinand who strode forward just then before overhitting a pass to RVN.
Flag up against RVN (Ruud - remember) after Liam Miller opted to pass rather than shoot. The former Celtic player needed more confidence there.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Rooney link up well on the edge of the Sparta box after the Portuguese youngster showed his dribbling skills. The move ended with a miscontrol - but exciting stuff from United's youngsters.
Another test for United as the Sparta team press forward - the home defence not look 100% comfortable.
A nice move from United ends with Gabriel Heinze firing in a venomous shot against the woodwork. Awesome shot - more of those please!!
Former United winger Karel Poborsky cuts in from the right wing, plays a neat one-two and cuts through the defence only to fire his shot straight at Roy Carroll
Van Nistelrooy (who hence forth during this commentary will be known as RVN to save my fingers!) passes it out wide to Liam Miller. Sadly the lad deputising for Ryan Giggs tonight lose it immediately.
Keane gathers the ball and feeds it towards Ruud van Nistelrooy, who has dropped deep
Alain Hamer from Luxembourg is the man in the middle tonight, he blows the whistle and we're underway.
A standard 4-4-2 for United, while Sparta opt for a Euro-tastic 4-2-3-1, and why not?!
So, here we go. The players take the field at Old Trafford and line up for the UEFA Champions League anthem.
And for Sparta Prague: Jaromir Blazek, Pavel Pergl, Jiri Homola, Radoslav Kovac, Martin Petras, Karel Poborsky, Tomas Sivok, Lukas Zelenka, Petr Vorisek, Ales Urbanek and Tomas Jun.
Tonight's teams are in. Here's how United line up: Roy Carroll, Gary Neville, Gabriel Heinze, Rio Ferdinand, Wes Brown, Cristiano Ronaldo, Roy Keane, Liam Miller, Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Join us live at 19.45 GMT as Manchester United try to turn on the style against Sparta Prague.