Last updated : 26 August 2004 By Editor
From the Guardian

Sir Alex Ferguson's trump card in the pursuit of Wayne Rooney might well be the prospect of Champions League football after Manchester United's place in the competition was secured with the modicum of fuss last night. They will go into today's draw alongside Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool but, perhaps crucially in the bartering process for Rooney, no Newcastle.

The natural conclusion is that Smith would be fourth in the order of merit but the £7m recruit from Leeds could hardly have done more to justify a prolonged run in the team. United's supporters might have been initially dubious about his switch but his tenacious style has swiftly won them over and there was genuine warmth in the standing ovation that greeted his substitution.

Kleberson and Eric Djemba-Djemba, two of Ferguson's most-maligned signings, controlled midfield, Cristiano Ronaldo was not far behind Smith as the
outstanding performer and there were competent European debuts from Chris
Eagles and Jonathan Spector, both 18 years old. Eagles was particularly
impressive, although Dinamo Bucharest's attacks were so rare it was difficult to
judge Spector's ability at left-back.

Protecting a 2-1 lead from the first leg, and even without the injured Roy Keane, Ferguson was relaxed enough to omit Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs and his confidence was not misplaced, even if it was a sluggish start from his players.

Having turned in a skew-whiff clearance by Adrian Iordache, Smith was initially
denied his first goal by a trigger-happy linesman who ruled him offside. After
vehement protests, United eventually persuaded the referee Markus Merk that
the "assist" had come from a Dinamo defender and the goal was given.
Smith's second was far more straightforward as he converted a low Gary Neville centre to remind Ferguson, yet again, that he has no intentions of playing second fiddle to anyone - Rooney included.

The Times

It was an evening of many positives for United, tempered only by the news that
Roy Keane, the captain, will be out for at least three weeks with a rib injury that he first sustained away to Chelsea 11 days ago. For all the promise shown by
several of the youngsters in a hugely inexperienced line-up, though, Smith, with his third and fourth goals in five appearances for his new club, shone most

Jonathan Spector, a young American defender, acquitted himself well on his
debut, while Cristiano Ronaldo, on his return from Olympic duty with Portugal,
and Kléberson enjoyed their first full appearances of the season. Ferguson's
team selection seemed like something of a gamble, but in terms of discipline, the youngsters could not be faulted. The only serious threat came from a half-chance for the lively Claudiu Niculescu on 15 minutes, but creating opportunities of their own proved rather difficult. The only one of note during a flat first half fell to Smith, five minutes before the interval, but his header, from one of several menacing crosses by Gary Neville, struck the top of the crossbar.

For as long as the aggregate deficit stood at 2-1, Dinamo were not quite out of
the tie, but their resistance was broken in the first five minutes of the second half.

Smith's previous goals in United colours, against Arsenal in the Community
Shield and Norwich City in the Barclays Premiership on Saturday, had been
spectacular affairs, but these two, perhaps even more encouragingly, were
poacher's efforts. The first, on 47 minutes, was a tap-in after a free kick by
Kléberson had been diverted into his path by Adrian Iordache. The second, three minutes later, was a first-time shot from another cross by Neville.

The youngsters, in particular, enjoyed the final stages, with Bellion underlining
his growing confidence as he scored his second goal in four days, racing clear of the offside trap from Spector's lobbed pass, holding off Iordache and stroking the ball past Cristi Munteanu.

By then, Smith had taken his leave, his exertions over the past few weeks
entitling him to watch from the bench as his young team-mates, in particular
Kieron Richardson, showed some party pieces. To judge from the look on his
face as he swigged a soft drink, the view from the bench was not one that Smith enjoyed. And to judge from his performances, it is not one that he will have to get used to — Rooney or no Rooney.

The Indie

Leading 2-1 from the first leg of this Champions' League qualifier, Ferguson felt
he could afford to experiment, especially with an insurance policy of Giggs,
Scholes and Saha on the bench. With places for Chris Eagles, Jonathan Spector
and Darren Fletcher, this was Manchester United Lite and sometimes a near
capacity Old Trafford would have yearned for the full-strength version. Often,
until Smith scored two minutes into the second half, there was little to feed off,
bar Cristiano Ronaldo's step-overs.

For Ferguson, deprived of Ruud van Nistelrooy, this was further confirmation of
Smith's excellence. Both his goals came from crosses immediately after the
restart, one delivered by Kleberson, the other from Gary Neville. In the Mia
Lucescu Stadium a fortnight ago, there had been two own goals and Dinamo
would surely have put Kleberson's centre through their own goal had Smith not
turned it past Cristi Munteanu.

Roy Keane, nursing two broken ribs and staring down fixedly from the directors' box, would have approved of the way Smith sometimes literally threw himself into the contest, typified by his flying header to meet Kleberson's cross five minutes before the interval. It deserved a goal more than those he did score, although Munteanu, stretching and leaping, somehow managed to palm it over the bar.

For a side which had to score twice to give themselves a victory that their
manager, Ioan Andone, thought would eclipse anything in their history, Dinamo
showed few signs of tossing aside inhibitions and when Smith struck victory went beyond even the realm of fantasy.

Their chief tactic of threading through a pass to split Mikaël Silvestre and John
O'Shea was continually stifled, sometimes because of inaccuracy but chiefly
because of the Irishman's excellence. Only once in the first half did it work and
that only because Eric Djemba-Djemba left himself disastrously exposed.
This was nothing compared to the way Adrian Iordache failed to pick up David
Bellion's run on to a long punt upfield that he drove past Munteanu with a
certainty that suggested the Frenchman might finally fulfil his promise.