Match Report: Manchester United 2-0 Manchester City

Posted on May 10, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Citeh, Man United, Match Reports   2 Comments »

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Tevez and Ronaldo

The 141st Manchester derby provided as comfortable an occasion as Sir Alex Ferguson and his Manchester United troops could have hoped for at such a crucial stage of the season, as they returned to the top of the table.

The 2-0 victory, while petering out for the whole of the second half on the pitch, was achieved with goals by two players who appeared to throw their Old Trafford futures in doubt once again.

Cristiano Ronaldo gave the Champions the lead – Dimitar Berbatov was felled around 25 yards from goal, and the United number 7 continued his excellent recent form by drilling in the right hand corner of the goal.

Carlos Tevez then made two telling contributions – the first acting as somewhat of a forecast for the second, with his initial 20 yard effort smashing against the outside of the post, and then his second – after the sublime creation of Berbatov – found the inside of the post into the goal to seal the result. The much loved Argentinian’s response was to cup both ears in direction of the South Stand – evidently in the hope of a stronger attempt to sign him from Sir Alex,

The second half was almost a non-event save for a hysterical reaction by Ronaldo to being substituted – throwing an offered vest to the ground and then almost pathetically offering pouts to the cameras for a full 2 minutes.

The visitors only really threatened through a wild Robinho half chance and an effort that van der Sar magnificently saved, while United could have added another with a late flurry, most notably through Rafael who saw his effort saved.

What looked like one of United’s toughest remaining fixtures on paper didn’t turn out to be so in reality but the lethargy of the performance, particularly after Tevez’s goal and the reactions of both he and Ronaldo will probably have given Sir Alex an untimely – and ultimately, more prevalent – potential disharmonious headache in a crucial week for the club.

Source: (Yolkie)

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Match Report: Arsenal 1 Manchester United 3

Posted on May 06, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Arsenal, Champions League, Man United, Match Reports   5 Comments »

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Park scores

Manchester United crushed expectant Arsenal 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium to progress to their second successive Champions League final.

Sir Alex Ferguson took a couple of risks with his selection – with John O’Shea and Ji-Sung Park providing a seemingly lightweight right hand side and Patrice Evra and Wayne Rooney guarding their left hand side both carrying bookings – but he needn’t have worried about the possible negative effects perhaps denying his side the opportunity of a 4th European Cup Final.

United’s superior ability and confidence shone through in the early stages – Arsenal did defy their first leg approach by coming out and searching for a goal but were made to pay in the 7th minute when Park capitalised on a very unfortunate slip by Gunners defender Gibbs to convert a Cristiano Ronaldo cross.

Just 4 minutes later, Ronaldo was fouled by van Persie over 40 yards out. No danger, normally, but the World Player of the Year followed up his quarter final stunner with a fabulous set piece to silence the home crowd and many pundits – the goal had provided the holders with a seemingly unassailable advantage to the dismay of even the commentator for broadcasters ITV, Jim Beglin, who stated he was disappointed about United’s advantage without giving them credit for a truly ruthless first half performance.

Arsenal pushed for the remainder of the opening period but were caught out many times by the incisive passing of their visitors – almost conceding from a Rooney 25 yard effort and another Ronaldo free kick.

Hopes of a second half fightback were dispelled as United continued to expose their hosts on the counter, and those hopes were finally completely distinguished on the hour mark as Ronaldo scored his second in a move he started with an exquisite backheel to Park – United’s first scorer fed Rooney, who brilliantly found his number 7 to put the seal on the tie.

Arsenal, somewhat predictably, turned a little nasty after the third goal went in, culminating in a penalty award for a completely fair Darren Fletcher tackle on Fabregas (just before a terrible challenge from Adebayor on Carrick). Fabregas typically did not own up to the referee’s discrepancy and Fletcher was dismissed, ruling him out of the final. With so little at stake for the Spanish prodigy it was a disgraceful display of sportsmanship.

Robin van Persie scored the spot kick to make it 1-3, but the visitors pushed to score even more after.

Sir Alex Ferguson will eagerly view the game between Chelsea and Barcelona to assess his sides final opponents, but will be desperately unhappy regarding Fletcher’s dismissal.

Source: (Yolkie)

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Why Michael Carrick can be the match winner against Arsenal

Posted on May 04, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Arsenal, Champions League, Man United, Tactics   3 Comments »

Michael Carrick

Michael Carrick is a fine footballer, who has grown into one of the best midfielders in Europe since his 2006 move from Tottenham to Manchester United. His passing range is immense and has proven how valuable his creative vision is in the center of the park for United. However, he does still get his fair share of criticism from rivals fans and of course United fans who don’t get too excited when he gets on the ball.

To quote Johan Cruyff ‘Football is simple, but the hardest thing is to play football in a simple way’ – something that you could apply to Michael Carrick. He doesn’t score too many goals, rarely gets in the box like Scholes used to but he has been pivotal in United’s success since he joined the club three years ago. His ability to switch play is superb and his vision helps us counter attack – something that will be extremely important tomorrow. I have no doubt that he will be part of a midfielder three consisting of Anderson and Fletcher – with Carrick being the main creative force.

I had blogged about Carrick earlier in the season, which was when he was playing out of his skin – however in recent weeks he hasn’t been at his best.  Against Inter Milan I though he was poor and off the pace whilst against Aston Villa he was anonymous – however tomorrow he can really stamp his authority on the game and control proceedings – something Gooners will be hoping Cesc Fabregas can do.  The duel between Fabregas and Carrick may be closer if Robin Van Persie plays from the start – with Fabregas more likely to adopt a deeper role rather than the second striker role he adopted last week and against Middlesbrough and Liverpool.  Both midfielders are capable of controlling the game with outlets in the form of Anderson and Song aiding their creative guile.

I am confident that United can build on the one goal lead obtained from Old Trafford last week – however Arsenal will not play anywhere near as poorly as they did in the first half last week.  Ferdinand and Evra are confirmed starters with Robin Van Persie back for Arsenal.  I presume that Robin Van Persie will replace Diaby with Nasri going out left and Fabregas dropping a little deeper to influence play.  I don’t know who Fergie will play up top out of Berbatov and Tevez – my gut instinct would be Berbatov with instructions to Anderson to get forward to support.  It should be a fascinating encounter and I just hope that United can get that away goal early, which will really silence the Emirates – hopefully through a Michael Carrick assist.

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Superga air disaster remembered

Posted on May 04, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Munich   9 Comments »
Superga air disaster

Sixty years ago today a plane carrying the Torino side back from a friendly against Benfica crashed into the hill of Superga – near Turin – killing all 31 passengers on board. Of course this has no reference to United at all, in terms of directly affecting the football club – however nine years after this tragedy – Munich happened.

Some people are unaware of the tragedy outside of Italy – which robbed Italy of one of their finest sides they had ever seen. Torino had won five Serie A titles on the trot from 1943 (45 & 46 were not contested due to the war) and was generally considered the best side in Italy – ahead of city rivals Juventus. Torino also boasted the talents of Valentino Mazzola, the father of Italian football legend Sandro Mazzola.

The similarities to our own disaster are vast – both cities were gravely effected by the loss of the team, both teams were widely considered the best in the land and would go on to achieve even more greatness and both clubs had players that would have contributed to the success of the national side in future world cups – however United were able to rebuild with the survivors of the air disaster and guidance from Jimmy Murphy through the dark days post Munich – with Busby still in hospital. Torino were never the same post 1949 as the whole side was wiped out – there were no survivors. City rivals Juventus became the most successful side in Italy and ironically won the 1950 title – something that would not have been achievable had Torino not flown that day. Torino have only won the Serie A title once since 1949 – in 1976 – and you feel that had this tragedy not occurred – the Turin club would have won a considerable amount more.

RIP all those who died in the Superga air disaster, sixty years today.

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Match Report: Middlesbrough 0-2 Manchester United

Posted on May 03, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Match Reports, Middlesbrough   1 Comment »

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Giggs Scores

Champions Manchester United opened up a (temporary) 6 point gap at the top of the Premier League with a comfortable victory achieved with an under strength side at the Riverside.

Similar goals in terms of execution were scored by Ryan Giggs and Ji-Sung Park in each half, ensuring Sir Alex Ferguson’s team selection was justified, but relegation threatened Boro rarely even mustered a meaningful attack let alone a shot that tested Ben Foster.

The opening goal came after Dimitar Berbatov played a ball in the direction of Federico Macheda who was making his first start in the league – the youngster couldn’t control it, and the ball rolled instead to Giggs, who used all of his experience and ability to drive home magnificently from 20 yards. The goal instantly drew eerie similarities to the one he scored in the same venue almost 13 years ago when United clinched the title in 1996, and it was his 98th Premier League goal, and 149th overall for the club.

Giggs used the goal as inspiration for another stellar performance in the middle of the park alongside fellow legend Paul Scholes – but try as they might, the visitors could not penetrate for a second goal in the first half. The second half was a different story however and both Macheda and Rooney went close in the opening moments – a move involving both the players, as well as Giggs and Berbatov, culminated with Rooney finding Park with a sensational through ball, and the South Korean smashed home on the run from 20 yards with his weaker left foot.

The game took a settled tone after the second goal as Boro looked powerless and United looked to pick them off on the break, with Wayne Rooney in particular eager to add more goals to the tally. It wasn’t to be, but Sir Alex took advantage of the relaxed pace of the game to make all three changes while ensuring that the likes of Carrick, Fletcher, Anderson and Ronaldo were all completely rested for Tuesday’s massive clash with Arsenal.

The result means the champions need just 7 points to ensure a third successive championship which would draw them level on 18 titles a piece with Liverpool.

Source: (Yolkie)

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Match Report: Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal

Posted on April 29, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Arsenal, Man United, Match Reports   1 Comment »

O'Shea scores against Arsenal

Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal

Manchester United will take a 1 goal lead into the second leg of the Champions League semi finals after the first leg with great domestic rivals Arsenal finished 1-0.

The holders made a rip roaring start and with a Wayne Rooney and Bacary Sagna combined header, and a Carlos Tevez point blank strike, could have been two up if not for the heroics of Manuel Almunia. But it was the corner resulting from Tevez’s effort that brought the opener, as John O’Shea converted with more than just a little aplomb.

United pushed for a second before the break as Arsenal struggled to get to grips, with a couple of Rooney efforts – one from fully 50 yards – and a Cristiano Ronaldo header that was well saved again.

Arsenal had difficulty establishing themselves but after the break managed to break up most of the home sides possession, making for an unpleasant spectacle in the second half, save for two major moments – Ronaldo hitting the bar from 30 yards with a superb effort and Ryan Giggs being adjudged offside (replays suggested unfairly) before skinning the keeper and rolling the ball in.

The visitors’ one big moment came when substitute Bendtner rose for a header but was unable to make a clear connection.

Ultimately Arsene Wenger will be the more relieved manager, being able to regroup his side with only a goal deficit after a tie when they could have been put well and truly out, but Sir Alex Ferguson will be optimistic with the opportunity to remind his team just how much they controlled this first leg.

Ratings : van der Sar 7, O’Shea 7, Ferdinand 8 (Evans), Vidic 8, Evra 8, Fletcher 8, Carrick 8, *Anderson 8 (Giggs 7), Ronaldo 7, Tevez 8 (Berbatov 7), Rooney 8.

Source: (Yolkie)

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A message from SEF for Arsenal game

Posted on April 28, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Announcements, Arsenal, Champions League, Chants & Songs, Man United   2 Comments »

Stretford End

Once again United find themselves in the Semi Final of the European Cup, this time up against familiar English opposition Arsenal. As the expectation levels rise its important that WE as supporters do not let our tension get to the players. EACH and EVERY supporter has a role to play on Wednesday night, as we re-create that passionate atmosphere that helped inspire the team to a famous win over Barcelona in last years semi-final.

Whilst it might be your normal matchday routine to arrive in your seats as the game kicks off, UNITED’S PLAYERS, MANAGEMENT and ourselves at SEF are calling on supporters to take their seats that bit early, as WE look to build up the atmosphere into a crescendo of noise as the teams emerge from the tunnel. Supporters are encouraged to take up their seats by 7:30pm in the build up to kick off.

YOU are encouraged to bring along your own flags and scarfs, creating the colour within Old Trafford.

But more importantly, dont forget your singing voices!
Just like last year, SEF have arranged for two mosaics to be in place.

The East Stand will once again be the setting for the BELIEVE mosaic, the inspiration and meaning which carried the team to last years success in Moscow.
The Stretford End will be the setting of a EUROPEAN CUP MONTAGE mosaic.
SEF will have in place 9 TIFO flags, which will be waved on the pitch by SEF members. These flags will be spread out along the two goal lines and along the touchline in front of North Stand

If you could give it a mention it would be much appreciated, wether you use the full messege or not it doesnt matter any mention of getting in early/bringing your own flags/scarves will be great.

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Manchester United vs. Arsenal: Roy Keane & Patrick Vieria bust up

Posted on April 25, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Arsenal, Man United, Players   9 Comments »

Roy Keane

With a triple header coming up against Arsenal (no that’s not a double intender) it’s perhaps an apt time to launch our “Old Trafford Legend” series, a collection of articles that will review iconic or defining moments in the clubs history, starting with the infamous Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira tunnel incident at Highbury in 2005.

It may seem untrue to many but this was the final time the two would ever cross swords in Premier League action but perhaps that lends an air of greater nostalgia to the event. After several years of blood and thunder encounters this game marked a change in the pattern of the fixture – more recently acknowledged as probably the finest footballing clash in the country.

So let’s give a little background information. United were still smarting from Arsenal’s unbeaten season, and Arsenal were still smarting from United ending that unbeaten run in acrimonious circumstances the previous October. That game itself had a little extra curricular activity, with Cesc Fabregas showing early signs of his simply charming personality by (must say ‘apparently’ here) throwing pizza of all things at Sir Alex Ferguson.

There was a 3 month long media whirlwind stoking the fires for the return fixture and the dangerous fuse didn’t take long to ignite – we didn’t even have to wait until the first whistle. During the warm up Vieira approached Gary Neville and told him he thought Neville “kicked all Arsenal players” when he played against them, a claim he re-stated in the tunnel, in reference to what he perceived to be harsh treatment of Spanish hard man Juan Antonia Reyes in the previous game. Of course there is no indication of how aggressively Vieira approached Neville as the United player has never revealed this – however, Keane heard the second comment and took umbrage at the mid 6 footer finding the smallest player on the opposition side and singling him out for intimidation.

Of course Keane actually stands an inch shorter than Neville and this made the following scene all the more comical – Sky cameras caught it live, Vieira walking hurriedly and sheepishly to the front of the players in the tunnel with an angry Keane getting louder and louder in the background, restrained by Graham Poll – when he became audible the phrases “I’ll see you out there” and “Thinks he’s a nice guy” were uttered and became part of United folklore.

What happened next was a breathtaking display of football – word had obviously reached the terraces of the incident as the atmosphere was at fever pitch, almost boiling over when Ashley Cole dived in the box after 3 minutes, scandalously trying to get a penalty. This incident is conveniently forgotten by myopic Gunners who concentrate on the (admittedly 30/70 in their favour) penalty incident at Old Trafford. It was an incident soon forgotten by United too as Vieira headed in the opener before fading into anonymity, save for one incredible dive in an attempt to get Wayne Rooney sent off.

Keane set the tempo for a resurgent and stunning comeback and after a breathless 90 minutes which saw 6 goals and a red card for Mikael Silvestre, United were clear and deserved 4-2 victors with a comprehensive footballing masterclass.

Vieira had wilted under the psychological battle that he himself had created, and although we didn’t know it at the time, an era defining game was being played out before us.

Arsenal had simply lost their bottle and by the end of the game had no leg to stand on – where people had previously tried to claim that they were the superior footballing side, the game they had witnessed left no spectator in doubt that the claim was fraudulent.

The pre-match incident was a microcosm of Keane and Vieira’s approaches to the game – Vieira’s attempt to wind up Neville being the equivalent of a woman bitching about the colour of someones hair, and in truth this was indicative of Vieira as a player, a strong commanding athlete whose tendency to be a sneak and a diver not only defied sense but also let him down. Keane on the other hand defied his relatively small physique and for all his faults – his temper and penchant for holding a grudge usually apparent – it was his unswerving honesty that brought him the respect that his approach commanded.

The two did have one more showdown, in that years FA Cup Final, with Vieira seemingly happy to be overrun for 120 minutes in midfield, as were the Arsenal side, as United threw wave after wave of ultimately fruitless attack at the Gunners, who became the first side to win the trophy on penalties – predictably, Vieira scoring the winning penalty with what turned out to be his last kick for the club (the equivalent of being beaten up on the last day of school, only to sneak in a kidney punch before running home!).

Keane himself left United in the autumn of that year under controversial circumstances, meaning that the game at Highbury took on added significance as it seemed to indicate one last round between two battle weary world champion boxers, paving the way for new blood but also illustrating the mammoth task they had in filling the shoes of their predecessors – yes, it is widely acknowledged that Keane had “won” that last battle, and probably the war, too, but it is a true acknowledgement of such an outstanding opponent in Vieira that gives the greater feeling of significance.

The Highbury Tunnel incident is probably the single greatest reference to the Keane/Vieira clashes and it was fitting that such an event should be their parting shot – even with some of the same players in both sides, the bad blood that was around 4 years ago has passed, even between the managers – probably moreso from Ferguson who has stated on more than one occasion that appreciation between the clubs is “a one way street”.

On the day Keane just had too much for his worthy opponent, and this was a fair analogy for the near-decades worth of battles prior – but although fans today enjoy the footballing spectacle of todays clashes, there are a few of us who look back on those equally encapsulating encounters with more than just a few fond memories.

Watch the incident again in all its glory

Source: (Yolkie)

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Match Report: Manchester United 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur

Posted on April 25, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Match Reports, Spurs   3 Comments »

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Ronaldo scores against Tottenham Hotspur

Manchester United took an almighty step towards  lifting a third successive Premier League title with a quite dramatic comeback against Tottenham Hotspur.  Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney scored four goals between them with boo boy Dimitar Berbatov rounding the scoring off.

United knew that Liverpool had beaten Hull City 3-1 prior to kick off, which kept the challengers on top by goal difference, and it was essential that United obtained the three points at home to Spurs.  Considering Spurs had not won at Old Trafford since December 1989 – United would have been confident in heading into the fixture.

Berbatov was back in at the expense of Giggs, whilst Fletcher and Carrick were brought back into replace Scholes and Anderson.  Sir Alex obviously looking ahead to the Champions League clash with Arsenal on Wednesday decided it would be best to rest both Scholes and Giggs whilst giving players like Nani a chance to make an impression.

United’s first half performance was distinctly average without any great urgency in the passing or movement.  This lack of urgency gave the visitors confidence and the North Londoners settled with some good football, which had United on the back foot at times.  United conceded the first goal in the 29th minute when Ferdinand and Vidic failed to deal with a cross from the right and the fortuitously fell to Spurs’ number 10 Darren Bent who smashed it past Edwin Van Der Sar.

It didn’t get any better three minutes later when Aaron Lennon, who put in a superb first half performance against Evra, dropped a cross in from the right to the back post where an unmarked Modric placed a left footed shot past the stranded Van Der Sar.  Modric was left unmarked as young Brazilian fullback Rafael was caught out of position – which gave the Croatian an easy finish.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a number of set pieces, which were dealt with by the error prone Tottenham goalkeeper Gomes.  The Spurs stopper also made a quite remarkable save from a Ronaldo half volley.  United’s number seven struck a free kick into the wall which bounced back to the Portuguese winger who proceed in smashing the ball towards the top corner.  The ball looked destined for the back of the net, with the Stretford End on their feet, the Spurs goalkeeper somehow managed to get his finger tips to the ball.  United went in at half time 2-0 down with much to do in the second half.

Ferguson’s intentions were obvious with the inclusion of Carlos Tevez for the ineffective Nani.  Tevez was deployed up top alongside Dimitar Berbatov, with Wayne Rooney operating from the left hand side.  Tevez’s introduction lifted both his teammates and the crowd as the industrious forward closed down the ball from all over the pitch, making the Tottenham players rush their play.

United’s break through came on the 57th minute when Gomes was alleged to have brought down Michael Carrick after a superb Wayne Rooney pass.  Howard Webb immediately gave the penalty without hesitation, however it was clear from television replay’s that the Tottenham goalkeeper had touch the ball before bring Carrick down.  Ronaldo didn’t care though and stepped up to score his 22nd goal (in all competitions) for United this season – smashing the ball down the centre.

Tottenham were clearly rattled by the decision, which gave United the confidence to search for more.  They were rewarded ten minutes after the first when Wayne Rooney, who was quite simply breathtaking in the second half , scored a right footed shot after a good pass from Carlos Tevez.  Wayne Rooney may get frustrated in not playing in his favourite position more often (as a main striker), however he will have to stop proving to be such a versatile player – he was at times unstoppable.

It was Rooney who then setup the third goal a minute later when he crossed for Cristiano Ronaldo who proceeded in heading the ball past Gomes.  Cue the Old Trafford eruption, with Ronaldo celebrating erratically with his team mates.  In the space of twenty three minutes United had taken the lead after being two goals down at half time.

It got worse for Tottenham three minutes later when Ronaldo returned the favour, from the right side though this time, by picking out Rooney who was lurking at the far post.  Rooney took a touch before placing the ball past the keeper.  Ex Manchester City defender Corluka tried in vain to stop the ball crossing the line – however his momentum took him over the line, closely followed by the ball – 4-2.

This remarkable comeback was rounded off by Dimitar Berbatov, who had been booed by some United fans, when Wayne Rooney swung in another delightful cross from the left.  United’s number ten checked onto his right foot, waiting for the right moment, before placing a inch perfect pass onto the head of Berbatov.  The Bulgarian’s header was saved by Gomes, however Berbatov bundled in the rebound – giving United a 5-2 lead.

United’s win brought back memories of Steve Bruce scoring at Sheffield Wednesday in 1993, Chris Eagles scoring at Everton in 2007 or more recently Federico Macheda scoring against Aston Villa at the Stretford End.  United performance was much better than recent matches and Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping the result will spur his men on for Wednesday’s clash with Arsenal – with United knowing they have an amazing opportunity to retain the double.  Make no mistake this is a massive win that, although was clouded in controversy, is a massive step towards the title.  Ten more points from a remaining fifteen will give United a third successive title and eighteen titles all in all.

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Match Report: Manchester United 2-0 Portsmouth

Posted on April 22, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Match Reports, Portsmouth, Premier League   2 Comments »

Rooney Scores

Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick scored the goals that returned Premier League Champions Manchester United to the top of the table with a 3 point lead and a game in hand in a comfortable display against Portsmouth.

The first half saw the home side really for the jugular and they started the second half in similar fashion, only to tail off and almost give Pompey a glimmer of hope before Carrick’s late goal sealed it.

Sir Alex Ferguson sprung a change or two in his line up, opting for Rooney up front while not starting Berbatov or Tevez, and playing Anderson despite the talented youngsters exerts in Porto and then the two hour performance on Sunday.

But it was Anderson, and veteran Ryan Giggs, who dictated the early exchanges, Anderson’s logic defying high energy display perfectly complementing Giggs’ intelligent use of the ball – it was no surprise that this combination led to the opening goal after just nine minutes, the Brazilian finding the Welsh legend with an out of this world 45 yard pass, the winger producing one of his trademark slide rule balls, with Wayne Rooney accepting the opportunity to slam United into the lead.

Chances followed as Anderson’s improvisation almost brought him a first United goal and Giggs movement created two great chances for him, though doubters may point towards profligacy for the reason that the opportunities were spurned.

Fletcher had an opportunity and Ronaldo began to creep into the game, while O’Shea had an effort cleared off the line – but it took Michael Carrick, on for the tireless Anderson, to seal the result. Paul Scholes, in his 600th appearance in a United shirt, played a ball that has long been his trademark, allowing his midfield partner to rely on his own ability and composure to steer the ball into the corner of the net to ensure United’s return to the top of the table.

Rafael and Ronaldo had later chances to add a greater gloss to the final scoreline but all attention will now be focussed on the Saturday teatime fixture with Tottenham – a crucial component of the 13 point obstacle between United and an 18th domestic league championship.

Source: (Yolkie)

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