Both coaches opted for tactical switches, as the Romanian champions looked to follow up their 2-0 aggregate second qualifying round win against MŠK Žilina. Dinamo chief Ioan Andone employed Ionut Balan and Andrei Márgáritescu as sweepers in front of the defenders, with Florentin Petre supporting the forwards allowing Ionel Danciulescu to drop back at times.
 United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, without central defenders Wes Brown, Rio Ferdinand and Gabriel Heinze, partnered Mikaël Silvestre with Roy Keane. Quinton Fortune played at left-back while Paul Scholes supported Alan Smith up front with Ruud van Nistelrooij injured.
 Dinamo made a flying start, urged on by a capacity 56,000 crowd in Romania's national stadium, and in the fourth minute United goalkeeper Tim Howard was forced to pull off a superb save to keep out a Claudiu Niculescu free-kick. After just nine minutes Dinamo were ahead though, as Niculescu's cross was diverted towards the goal by Danciulescu, and although Fortune got to the ball, he only succeeded in turning it into his own net.
 This shock sparked the visitors into life, and on 12 minutes a Scholes header was well-saved by Vladimir Gaev. At the other end Howard blocked a Constantin Semeghin effort, but on the half-hour Dinamo defender Liviu Ciobotariu was forced off through injury.
 United soon took advantage of his absence, as Ryan Giggs broke, rounded Gaev, and shot in from an acute angle on 37 minutes. Their nerves settled, United gained in confidence and emerged for the second half determined to take the lead.
 Scholes went close from long-range five minutes after the break, and soon after Smith, a summer signing from Leeds United AFC, hit the post. In between Márgáritescu had gone off injured, but Dinamo did not lose heart, and just before the hour Balan's cross-shot forced Howard to turn the ball wide.
 But United were dominant, and with 20 minutes left Liam Miller, another United arrival for this season from Celtic FC, crossed low and the luckless Angelo Alistar turned the ball into his own goal from close range. Dinamo ended the game with their heads held high, but have a very tough task on 25 August at Old Trafford.