First start strike gives Piqué heart
Gerard Piqué made a good impression on his first European start for United
Manchester United FC youngster Gerard Piqué said it was a "great feeling" to mark his first start in the UEFA Champions League with the opening goal in his side's 4-0 win over FC Dynamo Kyiv in Group F.
'Big night'The Spanish defender, whose only previous appearance in the tournament had come as a substitute at Fenerbahçe SK in December 2004, headed United in front with his first ever goal for the club on 31 minutes. Carlos Tévez, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo added three more goals as the Premier League champions secured their place in the knockout stages. "It is a great feeling when it is the first game you start and you score a goal and help the team win the game," said the 20-year-old, who spent last season on loan at Real Zaragoza. "It was a big night for me and for the team.
"Now I think we are one of the favourites," added Piqué, who sees no reason why Sir Alex Ferguson's team cannot go all the way to the final. "The most important thing is to finish first in the group. We can relax a little bit but we have to be first, and after this try to get to the final – that is our objective."
With Piqué starting in an unfamiliar-looking United back four that also featured 20-year-old right-back Danny Simpson, Sir Alex's side certainly showcased their strength in depth against Dynamo on a night where Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs and Owen Hargreaves were all rested. Michael Carrick, who made his first start since 2 October, praised the contributions of Piqué and Simpson, saying: "I thought Simmo was brilliant and Gerard got the goal so good for him. It is easier to come into a team that is winning but they showed tonight what qualities they've got.
"The squad is terrific," added the England midfielder, whose return alongside Darren Fletcher in the middle meant 90 minutes on the bench for Anderson, a recent impressive performer. "The people who've been settling in have done well. Everyone's raised their level of performance over the last month especially now going forward. As well as defending as a team, it gives a confidence boost if we keep the opposition out to know we are going to score goals." Carrick's words are supported by some impressive statistics with Wednesday's triumph the fourth time in five matches that United have struck four goals.