Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was determined there would not be a repeat of last season when poor team selection and some indifferent performances saw the Old Trafford outfit fail to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League.
But as early as the first minute a clumsy tackle by Nemanja Vidic almost gave away a penalty in a frenetic opening period which saw the host's take an early lead as Shinji Kagawa played in Michael Carrick who regained his footing despite being fouled by keeper Fernando Muslera to score.
But the team from Istanbul were powerful on the break and hit the woodwork twice and ended the half strongly.
United should have sealed the game just after the restart when Rafael was brought down by Burak Yilmaz but Nani was too clever with his stuttering run-up and shot weakly at the keeper who easily saved.
The Turkish side almost made them pay immediately as Selcuk Inan narrowly glanced a header wide.
Then Galatasaray broke quickly from a United corner and David de Gea twice in quick succession saved from substitute Emre Colak and Yilmaz to prevent an equaliser.
Both team's went close to scoring as the half progressed but it was United who got their Champions League campaign up and running with this hard earned success and have now only lost 2 of their last 56 European home games.
Another bonus for the home side was the return of Darren Fletcher from long term injury who came on as a second half substitute.
Referee: Wolfgang Stark (GER)
Venue: Old Trafford
Man Utd scorers: Carrick 7
Yellow cards: van Persie (MANU), Vidic (MANU), Evra (MANU), Melo (GAL)