Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fulham gets a late equalizer

Brede Hangeland redeemed an earlier own goal to head in a deserved equaliser as Fulham came from behind twice to take a share of the spoils.

It had looked like the defender had gifted Manchester United all three points as a nasty deflection off his shin had put United in front with just eight minutes remaining.

Both teams started off lively at Craven Cottage, with the majority of possession belonging to Manchester United, with the home side trying to rely mainly on the counter attack.

As United continued to keep the ball and pushed further forward, it was only a matter of time before the deadlock was broken, and Dimitar Berbatov was unlucky not to see his name on the scoresheet as a brilliant acrobatic volley was tipped over by an even more spectacular save from David Stockdale.

In the end it was only going to be one man to provide the breakthrough and Paul Scholes did just that. A fantastic lay-off from Berbatov allowed Scholes to run onto and drill a low, blistering shot into the bottom left-hand corner of Stockdale’s net from 25 yards out to register his 150th goal in all competitions for United.

Unlike with Wigan Athletic yesterday, Fulham kept their heads up after going down and came close to an immediate response when Bobby Zamora’s flick-on found Simon Davies, who attempted an impressive volley which sailed just over the angle of post and crossbar from 20 yards.

But United kept coming back as Javier Hernandez, who started in favour of Michael Owen, came close to scoring his first goal in the Premier League when he pounced on a Darren Fletcher pass to fire just wide from the edge of the area, followed by a fierce drive from Berbatov which was foiled by a strong hand from Stockdale.

Despite the continued pressure from last season’s runners-up, Fulham suddenly found themselves with a golden opportunity to equaliser and Dickson Etuhu really should have. A neat flick into the box by Clint Dempsey let the Nigerian in, and his first low shot was well saved by the Dutchman in goal and then the rebound was powered into the pitch to pop up for Edwin Van der Sar, who was still on the floor, to grasp out and tip the ball over the bar for a fantastic double save.

Fulham again refused to be demoralised and an entertaining end-to-end game was materialising.

Fulham came out at the beginning of the second half in a new set of strips due to the old set were “sweat-retaining”, and, as with the famous United kit change against Southampton in 1996, it immediately paid dividends as 10 minutes into the second half Fulham were level.

Clever work on the right flank by Damien Duff found Zamora in space in the area, his smart cut-back allowed an onrushing Simon Davies to hammer past Van der Sar for a deserved equaliser.

The Cottagers could have found themselves in front mere minutes later as Nemanja Vidic appeared to pull Moussa Dembele over inside the area, but the referee waved away the strong penalty appeals.

As the game entered the latter stages, both teams were going all out for the win, first Nani whizzed in a Cristiano Ronaldo-esque freekick, that dipped a little too late to really trouble Stockdale, then, down the other end, Paul Konchesky floated in a long free-kick aimed at Zamora, the England international connected with it well but could only watch in vain as it trickled past the far post.

Zamora may have lived to regret that missed chance as just five minutes later, Ryan Giggs whipped in a corner for United and, with no red shirts around him, Brede Hangeland was the victim of a nasty deflection off his knee to send the away team into the lead of the second time.

The drama wasn’t over there either as just one minute later, United were given the chance to put the game to bed as Damien Duff was harshly ruled to have handled the ball inside his own area, but Stockdale, who was fantastic throughout the match, was more than a match for Nani’s penalty attempt.

Fulham would survive to thank Stockdale, as in the 90th minute of normal time, Brede Hangeland redeemed himself for the earlier own goal to jump high and power a header low past Van der Sar in goal to bring the west London side back level for the second time and to give his team a deserved share of the spoils.

Man united stuns Newcastle

Manchester United kicked off their Premier League campaign with a comfortable victory over newly-promoted Newcastle United at Old Trafford, courtesy of first-half goals by Dimitar Berbatov and Darren Fletcher before Ryan Giggs added a late third.

The Red Devils began the game with Berbatov partnering Wayne Rooney up front, with new signings Javier Hernandez and Chris Smalling on the bench and no room at all in the squad for former Magpie Michael Owen.

The visitors, meanwhile, started with a five-man midfield, a lone striker in the shape of Andy Carroll whilst also handing a Newcastle debut to new signing James Perch at right back.

Yet Newcastle began the game well and had the best chance of the opening exchanges on the 10 minute mark. A corner in from Joey Barton found Carroll, completely free having lost his marker, but the striker conspired to head wide from six yards.

It was to prove a costly miss for the visitors as after an indifferent start, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men slowly took control of the match and opening the scoring just after the half hour mark.

Antonio Valencia poached the ball from Jonas Guterriez and found Paul Scholes who slid a perfectly weighted ball into the box for Berbatov to smash low, back across goal and beat Steve Harper.

The goal was all the encouragement the home side needed and less than 10 minutes later they doubled their lead thanks to Darren Fletcher.

Some good work down the left found Nani sliding in Patrice Evra who drove a ball across the box; Rooney managed to get a touch but couldn’t control it however the ball fell perfectly to the Scot to slot home from close range.

he second half began in much the same fashion, with the home side content to dictate proceedings and Paul Scholes at the heart of everything for Manchester United.

After picking up a customary booking for a late challenge on Nolan, the midfielder had a claim for a penalty after swapping passes with Berbatov before taking a tumble after contact with Coloccini yet referee Chris Foy waved his appeals away.

Seconds later the 35-year-old was involved again finding Rooney on the edge of the box, who dinked in a ball to Berbatov. The Bulgarian just had Harper to beat but slid his shot just wide of the post with the outside of this boot.

Yet Newcastle held firm, and even though Rooney put the ball in the back of the net on the hour mark, it was ruled out, harshly according to replays, for an offside earlier in the move.

That was to be the English striker’s last contribution of the game with Ferguson opting to change things, replacing him with Hernandez who received a rapturous applause from the Old Trafford faithful for his home debut.

However, the substitution did little to alter the flow of the game with chances continuing to come for Nani and Berbatov, yet it was another substitute, Ryan Giggs who was to add further gloss to the scoreline.

Again Scholes was the creator lofting the ball into the Welshman who volleyed it into the far corner to seal a convincing victory for the home team who travel to Fulham next, a ground on which they have struggled in recent seasons.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Manchester United crushed Fulham 3-0

Wayne Rooney scored twice as Manchester United crushed Fulham 3-0 at Old Trafford to return to the summit of the Premier League.

All three goals came in the second half as Rooney made his Premier League tally 25 and overall season haul 32 as he chases Cristiano Ronaldo's target of 31 and 42 from 2008-09, while Dimitar Berbatov added a third late on after impressing throughout but failing to find the target.
United move two points clear of Chelsea and Arsenal after the win, while Fulham stay 10th.
The result was a reverse of Fulham's 3-0 victory at Craven Cottage in December but, unlike that game, Roy Hodgson's side were comprehensively outplayed by a United side keen to continue the momentum after their 4-0 thrashing of Milan in the Champions League.
Both sides are renowned for quick, incisive passing and the first half panned out in entertaining fashion, although neither side could break the deadlock.
United, as expected, had more of the ball and created the greater number of chances.
Rooney, who hit his 30th goal of the season against Milan in midweek, mis-kicked his finish on 10 minutes, had a penalty appeal rejected after a challenge from Stephen Kelly 11 minutes later, forced an excellent save from Mark Schwarzer on the half-hour mark, was denied by a Hangeland-Kelly double-block seven minutes later and curled an imaginative effort inches wide just before the break.
His striker partner Berbatov was heavily involved too, and missed one gilt-edged chance when he headed Nani's cross over to cap off a move he started.
Portugal winger showed both sides to his game - impressing with his running and crossing, having a shot deflected over but frustrating when he tried to go it alone with Rooney unmarked in the box.
Fulham had their opportunities too. Bobby Zamora was a touch isolated up front, with Dempsey providing the support and firing just over once and straight at Edwin van der Sar twice.
Zamora should have put Fulham in front on 39 minutes when, after beating Rio Ferdinand to a long ball from Danny Murphy, he opted to finish first-time with his preferred left foot when his right was better placed: the shot skewed well over, with Van der Sar grateful as he was stranded.

Fulham made one change at the break, bringing on the surprisingly benched Damien Duff for Simon Davies, but they were a goal down almost immediately.
After United went forward from kick-off, Rooney turned on the edge of the box to slip the ball wide left to Nani. For some reason Fulham opted not to track Rooney, standing and watching as he waltzed into the middle and diverted the low cross past the helpless Schwarzer.
An old-fashioned goalmouth scramble saw the visitors lucky to survive repeat shots from Rooney and Nani, while Ferdinand hooked an improvised volley just wide after Antonio Valencia's corner.
Berbatov nearly doubled the lead with an audacious bicycle kick from the edge of the box but the effort went wide as United bossed the game with Fulham barely leaving their half.
On one rare foray forward, the Whites should have levelled when, after Zamora was played clean through by a fortuitous deflection, Nemanja Vidic raced back to block a finish that the Cottagers' top scorer should have released earlier.
Park Ji-sung, on for Valencia, laid on a simple headed finish for Berbatov with a delightful scooped cross from the outside of his right boot but the Bulgarian again mis-directed his finish just wide of the far post.
Patrice Evra got forward to fire wide after combining with Park, while Schwarzer had to be at his acrobatic best to tip Darren Fletcher's rising finish over.
They finally got a second when, with six minutes remaining, Berbatov killed Michael Carrick's long pass with a superb first touch before gliding between Nicky Shorey and Chris Baird to hand an easy finish to Rooney.
Fulham were a broken team now, and Berbatov scored a deserved third when he stooped to nod Park's cross into the bottom right.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Manchester United stuns Milan by four

A brace from Wayne Rooney sealed a 4-0 victory and an emphatic 7-2 aggregate scoreline as Manchester United romped past Milan at Old Trafford to clinch their place in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Rooney gave United the lead in just the 13th minute with a sublime glancing header, and the England forward netted his 30th goal of the season with a deft finish seconds after half-time to stun the visitors.
David Beckham was confined to the Milan bench from the outset, but the former United midfielder had to wait until his side were 3-0 down before he was introduced after Park Ji-Sung slammed a fierce shot beyond Christian Abbiati just before the hour-mark.
Darren Fletcher capped an imperious display from the English champions with a fourth goal in the 88th minute, and Milan and Beckham were left utterly shell-shocked at the final whistle.
Rooney almost gave the hosts the lead in the fourth minute as he swivelled on the edge of the Milan box to latch on to Antonio Valencia's cut back and fired a low shot which he dragged narrowly wide of Christian Abbiati's near post.
Milan were hardly subdued at the other end, as Andrea Pirlo whipped over a devilish delivery in the eighth minute which Nani inadvertently flicked over to Ronaldinho, but the Brazilian's header drifted narrowly wide.
Two minutes later, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who flanked Marco Borriello along with Ronaldinho, stole in at the back post beyond Patrice Evra to receive Thiago Silva's raking diagonal pass from the back, but his first touch was sloppy as the ball evaded him.
Neville was preferred to Rafael at right-back for United, and Sir Alex Ferguson's decision was vindicated as the skipper picked out Rooney with a pinpoint cross from the right as United stamped their authority on the match in the 13th minute.
Rooney's exquisitely-timed run caught Daniele Bonera napping as the forward climbed above his marker to glance a deft finish beyond a helpless Abbiati and score his third headed goal in the tie.

Milan looked devoid of ideas in attack as they sought to redress the balance of the tie and, as Ronaldinho and Huntelaar were dragged outwide to gain possession, Borriello was left increasingly isolated and stifled for space.
Veteran midfielder Clarence Seedorf was introduced at half-time as the Rossoneri looked to inject some impetus into their midfield, but it was United who began the half in sparkling fashion.
Nani surged down the left wing at blistering pace before the Portugese's precise cut back was dabbed past the onrushing Abbiati by Rooney with the utmost swagger and composure.
Milan were left horribly exposed as their three-pronged attack offered about as much defensively as they did in forward areas, and United capitalised in the 59th minute to kill the tie.
Paul Scholes found Park in behind Marek Jankulovski, and the midfielder's low shot fizzed into the bottom corner to make it three in the 59th minute as the hosts were rampant.
Then ensued a procession of substitutions as both managers recognised that the tie had been effectively decided, and the first to make his entrance was Beckham, to a standing ovation from the Old Trafford crowd.
Rooney was withdrawn to a rapturous reception as the forward was denied a potential second hat-trick, and Paul Scholes and Neville departed swiftly afterwards.
The evening was capped off by Fletcher in the 88th minute as the midfielder capitalised on more shoddy defending by the visitors to turn home Rafael's deep cross and make it four.
United swagger through to the quarter-finals after humbling Milan over the two legs, as Rooney yet again established himself as one of the world's most potent attacking forces.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Manchester United holds the Carling Cup

Rooney, on as a 42nd minute substitute for Michael Owen, headed home in the 74th minute to ensure last year's winners retained the trophy - the first time United have successfully defended a cup competition.
James Milner gave Villa an early lead from the penalty spot only for Owen, who started the game in place of Rooney, to level things up on 13 minutes with a classic strike.
But inevitably it was Rooney who grabbed the headlines, the England striker continuing his recent electric form with a 12th goal in nine games.
Villa raced out of the blocks at a soggy Wembley and took the lead in just the fourth minute, Milner sending Tomasz Kuszczak the wrong way from the spot after Gabriel Agbonlahor was upended by Nemanja Vidic in the box.
It was not the last time Vidic, who bafflingly got away without further punishment, looked suspect during a shaky first half, particularly when faced with the pace of Agbonlahor and Ashley Young.
But Villa's lead lasted just eight minutes, with Owen restoring parity soon after.
Rooney's appearance on the bench came as a surprise - he was suffering from a slight knee complaint - yet in Owen, Ferguson not only had a natural born finisher to call on, he had a player who was desperate to make an impression in what was a rare start for him.
And what an impact the striker made in front of the watching Fabio Capello. As he has on occasion this season, he rolled back the years with a tremendous finish past Brad Friedel after Richard Dunne's pockets were picked by Dimitar Berbatov.
But, just as it looked like the 'Owen for England' bandwagon was about to be fired up once again, the wheels promptly fell off as he limped off with a pulled hamstring before the end of the first half.
Nevertheless, Owen's goal had served to spark United into life, and the Premier League champions went on to enjoy the better of the opening period, despite sighters from James Milner and Emile Heskey which Kuszczak was forced to deal with.
Park Ji-sung nearly made United's slight superiority count in first half stoppage time, the South Korean's crisp strike pinging back off the upright after Stephen Warnock had slipped on the greasy turf, allowing Antonio Valencia to deliver a cross.
And United emerged for the second half in similarly determined mood, Michael Carrick's effort from the edge of the box matched only by Friedel's excellent save four minutes after the restart.
Valencia in particular was on fire after the break, and it was the Ecuadorian's lofted cross which Rooney met with a looping header over Friedel - similar to his first against Milan in the Champions League - to put United into the lead.
Rooney could have added another four minutes later - again with his head - but his downward effort from a standing position cannoned back off the base of the upright with Friedel beaten all ends up.
Villa briefly threatened to grab a late equaliser as the clock ran down, Kuszczak having to backpeddle furiously to tip a deflected cross over his crossbar on 82 minutes, but United never looked like being beaten for a second time.
So it proved as United held on to finally avenge their defeat by Villa in the 1994 final.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Manchester United came from behind

Manchester United came from behind to win a thrilling Champions League last-16 first leg 3-2 away to Milan thanks to a Wayne Rooney headed brace.

Milan took an early lead through a deflected Ronaldinho volley only to see a fortunate Paul Scholes strike level matters before half-time.
Rooney finished both headers brilliantly for a 3-1 lead before substitute Clarence Seedorf, who had replaced starter David Beckham, flicked in at the near post to set up a late charge from the hosts.
Michael Carrick was sent off after picking up a second yellow card in injury-time.
The vociferous home fans were given an electric start by their side when Brazilian magician Ronaldinho, in form and always with an eye for the quickest route to goal, watched the ball drop near the corner of the box.
His volley to the near post was covered by Edwin van der Sar but struck Carrick and spun in past the Dutchman's outstretched leg.
The chance had arrived following a Beckham free-kick from near halfway on the right which was almost cleared by the scissor-kicking Patrice Evra. Beckham, facing his boyhood side for the first time, was restricted to angled drives from deep throughout his 72 minutes on the field.
United saw a fair bit of the ball but struggled to create anything in the final third whereas Milan were more incisive on the counter, led by the resurgent Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato.
The former went past Rio Ferdinand on the edge of the box following a couple of stepovers and could have had a free-kick or even penalty as he was blocked off the ball.
At the other end Rooney was becoming frustrated by Nani's inability to deliver an accurate cross. The striker was booked before the break.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar fired wide for Milan after spinning off Ferdinand and on to a Massimo Ambrosini pass and it looked like only one side would be capable of scoring on the night.

United had not scored in four visits to face Milan in the San Siro in Europe, but that was to change on 36 minutes when Scholes angled into the penalty area.
Darren Fletcher, played in by Park Ji-Sung on the right, found his run and the ball came off Scholes's supporting leg after he missed his volley with his right foot.
Ronaldinho tested Van der Sar with a dipping strike after turning away from a double United challenge in midfield and he also went close 16 minutes into the second half, a dipping strike just palmed past the far post.
Before that Andrea Pirlo's perfect strike from 35 yards out was also tipped away by the keeper while Pato headed over from a Giuseppe Favalli cross when left unmarked near the penalty spot.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Manchester United hits Five in Portsmouth

Manchester United roared back to the summit of the Premier League table with a 5-0 thumping of crisis club Portsmouth at Old Trafford.

It took 40 minutes for the champions to break the deadlock but once Wayne Rooney hit the back of the net with his 21st goal of the season, Pompey's resistance faltered and the floodgates opened.
In-form Nani forced an own-goal out of Anthony Vanden Borre on the stroke of half-time before Michael Carrick's shot took a hefty deflection off Richard Hughes to register a third 14 minutes after the restart.
Dimitar Berbatov added a fourth on 62 minutes before a third own-goal, this time a spectacular effort by the unfortunate Marc Wilson, completed the rout seven minutes later.
The result saw United rise above Chelsea into top spot, where they will stay at least until Sunday's big clash between the Blues and Arsenal.
Pompey, who this week were taken over for a fourth time in 12 months, remain rooted to the bottom of the pile, six points adrift of their nearest rivals.
As expected given the 18-place gap between the two sides going into the game, United were dominant from the outset, easily keeping possession of the ball and barely allowing Pompey out of their own half.
To some extent that was by Pompey's design, as boss Avram Grant opted to play with just Frederic Piquionne up front in the hope of catching the hosts on the break.
It is a situation seen often enough at Old Trafford - sometimes it works for the away team, but more often than not it fails.
This time it worked for a total of 40 minutes as Pompey stood firm in the face of a constant barrage of crosses into the box and United were frustrated in their attempts to find a way through.

Yet, despite their territorial advantage, the champions only managed to create two clear-cut goalscoring chances prior to breaking the deadlock, Jonny Evans floating a header wide on 12 minutes before Berbatov conspired to stab wide from close range 10 minutes before the interval.
Pompey even managed to carve out several chances of their own on the counter, Vanden Borre and Algeria international Nadir Belhadj both bringing early saves out of Edwin van der Sar before the World Cup-bound wide man saw a 34th minute effort hacked off the line by Evans.
That last scare prompted United into action and soon after Berbatov's glaring miss they took the lead through Rooney.
The England striker nodded home from close range following Darren Fletcher's excellent ball into the box, although the watching Ray Clemence, England's goalkeeping coach, will not have been impressed by David James's failure to deal with the cross.
At least Clemence will be able to report back to Fabio Capello that Rooney's robust form is showing no signs of ending. Only three times in Premier League history have United players scored more than Rooney in a season - Ruud van Nistelrooy, twice, and Cristiano Ronaldo. And it is still only February.
United soon doubled their advantage, Nani forcing an own-goal for the second time in a week after some devilish trickery on the left led to his cross taking a cruel deflection off Vanden Borre and beating the wrong-footed James at his near post.
Two-nil up and the writing appeared to be on the wall, but there was still time before the break for Pompey to head down the other end and claim a penalty when the ball appeared to hit Patrice Evra on the arm.
Referee Lee Mason turned down the appeals and with that went any hope Pompey may have harboured of getting back in the game as United came out for the second half and soon killed it off.
Berbatov signalled United's intentions with a delightful flick to put in Antonio Valencia 10 minutes after the restart - the Ecuadorian's effort was on this occasion well-saved by James - before Carrick's effort on goal took a big deflection off Hughes, looped over James and went in off the underside of the bar.
Three minutes later United got a fourth, Berbatov making up for his earlier profligacy with a low shot that beat James after Tal Ben Haim had given him far too much space to turn and pick his spot.
Pompey's misery was completed on 69 minutes when Wilson netted a third own-goal of the day, a spectacular volley into the roof of the net as he tried to clear his lines from a cross.
The moment summed up Pompey's day, and it would have got even worse had substitute Mame Biram Diouf not blazed over from close range in the 81st minute.
The bedraggled club have now won just once in their last eight Premier League matches - and just one of their last 25 away from home in the top division.
Meanwhile United, as is their tradition, appear to be hitting form just at the right time.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Manchester United invade Arsenal by three

Manchester United dealt Premier League title rivals Arsenal a heavy blow with a resounding 3-1 victory at the Emirates Stadium.

An inspirational first-half performance from United winger Nani produced an own goal from Manuel Almunia and a strike from Wayne Rooney. Park Ji-sung added a third for United soon after half-time before Thomas Vermaelen grabbed a consolation for the Gunners with 10 minutes remaining.
United's reward for completing a league double over Arsenal is to hold on to second place in the table, and they are now one point behind leaders Chelsea, who the Gunners travel to face in their next league match.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was once again without a recognised striker in his starting line-up due to injuries to Eduardo and Robin van Persie, while Danish target man Nicklas Bendtner started on the bench having just returned from a lengthy lay-off.
The early signs were that makeshift frontman Andriy Arshavin could still pose a threat to the champions after the Russian cut into the box and shot wide of the far post.
Arshavin was involved in all of Arsenal's most promising attacks, but his side struggled to trouble United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar too often.
However, after a hotly-contested opening half an hour, it was United winger Nani who stepped up to create the opener.

The Portuguese cut into the Arsenal box after finding a way through two defenders with an audaciously skilful turn and he chipped a ball towards the far post that Almunia turned into his own net with his fingertips.
The Spanish keeper was forced into trying to take action, despite being at full stretch, as Park Ji-sung was lurking unmarked at the far post ready to tap the ball in had it fallen to him.
United were two up five minutes later when they scored a counter-attacking goal reminiscent of Cristiano Ronaldo's on the same ground in last season's Champions League semi-final.
Wes Brown steered Cesc Fabregas's shot away from goal and Rooney found Nani. The winger galloped upfield with the ball as Rooney continued his run, and the England striker was played in with an inch-perfect pass that was swept home for his 100th Premier League goal.
Any hopes of Arsenal salvaging something from the match were extinguished seven minutes after the restart.
Carrick instigated another United break with a ball over the top for Park. Gael Clichy was the only defender back and Park had Rooney and Nani in support, but the Korean drove forward and fired a low finish that beat Almunia at the near post for his first goal of the season.
The Gunners stepped up a gear as they desperately tried to avoid humiliation and United relaxed into their three-goal lead. Fabregas, Arshavin and Alex Song all fired efforts off target, but the slice of fortune that delivered their consolation only serves to highlight the lack of cutting edge they otherwise possessed.
With 10 minutes left an Arsenal cross was headed clear but only as far as Vermaelen on the edge of the box. The centre-back, who has a keen eye for goal, struck a volley back on goal that Jonny Evans tried to half-heartedly block by sticking his leg out, but he succeeded only it steering the ball past van der Sar.
Arsenal were spurred on by that goal, but they left themselves susceptible on the break as they continued to commit men forward, allowing United to launch several more counter-attacks before the final whistle blew.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Man United in the Carling Cup Final

A last-gasp goal from Wayne Rooney put Manchester United in the Carling Cup final after a 3-1 semi-final second-leg win over bitter rivals Manchester City gave the hosts a 4-3 aggregate victory.

In the second minute of injury-time, Rooney headed Ryan Giggs's cross past Shay Given for his 21st goal of the season after City thought they had forced extra time through Carlos Tevez's third goal over the two legs against the club he controversially left in the summer.

Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick had earlier put the hosts two up in a game that was soured by a missile incident involving City striker Craig Bellamy, which is sure to have repercussions for United.

Bellamy was hit on the head by a coin and narrowly missed by a bottle in the passage of play before United's opening goal, in an emotionally charged atmosphere not helped by a war of words between Tevez and United defender Gary Neville.

As expected, United started the game looking for an early goal, pressing forward at all opportunities but faced with a wall of Sky Blue as City sat back and looked for the break.

The counter-attack policy seemed more effective: Rio Ferdinand - playing after appealing his FA charge for violent conduct - nudged Tevez off the ball after his mazy dribble put him clean through, while Edwin van der Sar acrobatically saved Tevez's diving header.

Given was barely tested, keeping out Giggs's drive with ease and snuffing out the danger when Dedryck Boyota's slip nearly let Rooney through.

The second half started in reverse fashion, with City coming out all-guns blazing and Micah Richards forcing a save from Van der Sar with a left-foot drive.

Then, on 50 minutes, came the Bellamy incident. The Welshman was ultimately unhurt by the coin and one positive outcome is that the bottle - which contained liquid and could have done serious damage - missed.

From the next move the hosts took the lead in fortuitous circumstances.

A superb ball from Rooney freed Giggs but he was forced wide by Given and had to play the ball back to Nani. The Portuguese winger lost the ball but Carrick, impressive in an advanced midfield role, knocked it back to Scholes, who rifled a low drive that was deflected into the bottom left.

United regained their impetus after that and City did well to survive a couple of slick moves, including a goal-mouth scramble that saw Rooney inadvertently block a Carrick shot and Rooney denied a simple finish by Boyata's sliding challenge.

They made it 2-0 on 71 minutes when, after a quickly-taken throw found its way to Fletcher, Carrick latched on to the loose ball to side-foot into the bottom left from 12 yards.

Rooney, the Premier League's top scorer with 19 goals in 22 matches, missed a sitter when he put Patrice Evra's low cross wide from close range, and it could have been a huge error had he not atoned in injury-time.

Three minutes later, Tevez - who scored both of City's goals in the first leg - pulled one back to level overall with an audacious flick as he spun around Ferdinand to send Bellamy's cross into the bottom left.

With nine minutes left, Carrick missed a great chance to put the tie to bed when he fired wide after the ball broke kindly to him near the penalty spot, while Given seemed to have forced extra-time when he pulled off an incredible save to bat out Fletcher's point-blank header.

But Roberto Mancini's side failed to clear their lines from the poorly-taken short corner that followed, allowing Giggs to pick out Rooney who headed past the Ireland keeper, rooted to his line as the ball nestled in the left-hand side of the goal.

United face Aston Villa in the final at Wembley Stadium on February 28.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rooney hits four Goals

Wayne Rooney hit four goals as Manchester United went top of the Premier League with a 4-0 win over Hull City at Old Trafford.

Rooney made his league tally 19 for the season - a career-best total only mid-way through the campaign - with an early opener and three late strikes to put down a brave effort from the Tigers, who stay in the drop zone after the loss.
It was not all sweetness and light for United though as captain Rio Ferdinand, returning to the team after a worrying back injury, could be in trouble with the FA after his elbow on Craig Fagan was missed by the match officials.
United were utterly dominant in the first half but only had Rooney's eighth-minute poacher's goal to show for two-thirds of the possession and almost 20 chances.
Michael Owen was particularly profligate, notching his first miss in the second minute when his finish came off Anthony Gardner and spun wide for a corner after good work by Rooney.
Rooney soon notched his 16th Premier League goal of the season though, poking the ball home from close range after Boaz Myhill could only parry a Paul Scholes distance special.
Myhill arguably could have done better with Scholes's initial effort, but he kept them in the contest afterwards.
Ji-sung Park headed wide five minutes later, off-balance as he met Darren Fletcher's cross, and Ferdinand poked Nani's corner just wide of the near post on his return from a worrying back injury.
The now usual haphazard United defending reared its ugly head soon after though, with consecutive suicidal defensive headers from Scholes and Jonny Evans forcing Edwin van der Sar to save bravely at Nick Barmby's feet, and the Dutch keeper flapping at the resultant corner and only saved by a Ferdinand clearance from Gardner at the far post.
After that though it was business as usual for the Red Devils.
Rooney had a half-volley deflected just over by a last-gasp Paul McShane block, while Nani saw a penalty appeal waved away after a reckless challenge by Geovanni, although the Brazilian seemed to pull out just in time.
United were all over the Tigers, as Owen was denied when Myhill stopped his spectacular volley and Kamil Zayatte blocked him on the rebound, while Rooney sent a superb free-kick inches wide with Myhill rooted to his goal-line.

Rooney then spooned the ball well wide from 12 yards after another swarming attack initiated by the evergreen Scholes, while late in the half Owen fired weakly at Myhill from eight yards out after some great build-up saw him play one-twos with Rooney and Nani.
Somehow it stayed 1-0 into the break, with Hull fortunate not to be long gone as they went down the tunnel.
The second half started slowly as, while United had almost all the possession, they failed to create any clear-cut chances until Myhill spilled Nani's low cross on 57 minutes.
Lone striker Fagan, while not getting any quarter in front of goal, defended from the front for Hull and chased everything and anything put in the United half, while Gardner and McShane in particular impressed at the back.
They gained in confidence, testing Van der Sar with some crosses and winning a corner on the right that bounced dangerously in front of goal before hitting Zayatte and going wide.
United woke up, and Rooney went close with a low drive before Park mis-hit another good low cross from Nani straight at Zayatte.
Owen was responsible for another miss, heading inches wide after getting behind Gardner to meet a perfectly-weighted free-kick won and delivered by Nani.
Hull came agonisingly close to an equaliser when substitute Kamel Ghilas did brilliantly to control McShane's cross before turning and firing a low drive across Van der Sar but just wide of the far post.
Another sub, Darron Gibson, nearly made it 2-0 for the hosts but his lob landed just the wrong side of the crossbar, while there was a moment of controversy in the build-up to that chance, with Ferdinand potentially in hot water after seeming to aim an elbow at Fagan in an off-the-ball-incident missed by referee Steve Bennett.
United got their second soon afterwards though.
On 82 minutes Nani - who would have been man of the match but for Rooney - smashed a free-kick off the bar: with Andy Dawson hurt after colliding with Myhill while clearing the rebound, Hull decided not to put the ball out of play and Nani fed Gibson, who slid Rooney through to smash the ball into the roof of the net.
Hull's resolve was broken and Rooney added a third four minutes later, arriving unmarked to head into the bottom left after yet another great delivery from Nani.
The England striker added a gloss to the victory with a fourth - the first time he has scored that many in one match - when he drilled into the bottom left after sub Dimitar Berbatov's pull down put him in, although Hull's defence backed off him to allow the shot.
United go two points clear of Arsenal and Chelsea, who have one and two games in hand respectively: Hull stay 18th, with a goal difference of -26, the worst in the division.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Manchester City beats Manchester United 2-1

Tevez, who controversially joined City last year in a move that has heightened the rivalry between the two clubs, wiped out United's early lead when he smashed home a 42nd-minute penalty.
The Argentina forward headed their second goal against the holders after 65 minutes when he was left unmarked in United's six-yard box with only goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar to beat.
United went ahead after 17 minutes when City failed to deal with an Antonio Valencia cross leaving Ryan Giggs with a simple tap-in after City keeper Shay Given blocked a Wayne Rooney shot.
The first semi-final between the two Manchester clubs since 1969 will be decided in the second leg at Old Trafford next Wednesday with the winners meeting Aston Villa or Blackburn Rovers in the final at Wembley Stadium on February 28.
Villa hold a 1-0 lead after the first leg at Blackburn.
United settled first at a sold-out Eastlands and took the lead after Patrice Evra picked out Valencia on the right. His low cross into the box found Wayne Rooney and although Given saved his shot the ball ran to Giggs, a former City youth player, who scored his first derby goal since 1996.

United dominated much of the half after that but City, whose Italian manager Roberto Mancini was experiencing his first Manchester derby, equalised after a controversial call by referee Mike Dean.
United defender Rafael tugged at Craig Bellamy's shirt outside the penalty area and, while the City forward tried to stay on his feet, he fell inside the box.
Dean ruled there was another foul inside the area but TV replays clearly showed there was not.
Tevez ignored the pleas of his former team-mates and the time-delaying tactics of Van der Sar, which earned the keeper a booking, to blast the penalty into the net.
With United personnel claiming in recent days that the club were right to let Tevez leave at the end of last season, the Argentine cupped his ear with his hand to celebrate - and teased the United bench again after his second goal.
That came when he made it 2-1 with his 13th goal in his last 11 games, taking advantage of some slack United defending to head in from close range.
United attacked relentlessly for the equaliser for the remainder of the match with Rooney twice being thwarted by Given and substitute Michael Owen having a shot saved on the line.
Although the visitors failed to find another goal, the tie is still evenly balanced with next week's second leg likely to be just as lively.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mnachester United grind down Burnley by three

Manchester United kept up the pressure on leaders Chelsea as they ground down a gutsy Burnley side 3-0 at Old Trafford.
Goals in quick succession from Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney midway through the second-half put United in control before Mame Biram Diouf came off the bench to score his first United goal in stoppage time.
United dominated but Burnley had chances too as new boss Brian Laws refused to put out a team who were just going to sit back.
That led to an entertaining contest but United took control when Berbatov broke the deadlock in the 64th minute and Rooney then clinched the points five minutes later with a close range finish.
Sir Alex Ferguson then had the luxury to take off his two strikers soon after and while Burnley's Steven Thompson did head off the post before the end, United never looked in any danger of surrendering their lead once in front with Diouf's late header adding further gloss at the death.
However, United's fans still used the match as a chance to voice displeasure at the club's current owners with chants of "we want the Glazers out" ringing around the ground in the final moments.
The match was open from the start and United had countless half chances in the opening 45 minutes.
The returning Nani saved their best moment of the half till last as he flicked up Antonio Valencia's cross himself before firing a spectacular bicycle kick towards the corner of the net. Brian Jensen got down well though to push the ball away.

Rooney also had a couple of attempts and Berbatov flapped at another chance from eight yards out after Valencia's check back.
However, the best chance of the first-half actually feel to Burnley after just seven minutes but Steven Fletcher dragged his effort wide after being sent clear by David Nugent.
Fletcher was also forced off in the 36th minute after being on the wrong end of a nasty Valencia challenge with the Ecuadorian lucky to escape without at least a booking.
The second-half followed a similar pattern with Berbatov missing a great chance in the 57th minute when he superbly took a Valencia pass into his path before then scuffing a left foot shot off the post when it looked easier to score.
United nearly paid the price three minutes later when the excellent Chris Eagles, playing against his former club, slid in David Nugent after a superb run forward.
Nugent then outpaced Gary Neville and looked all set to score but he put the guilt-edged chance wide of the target.
Soon after Berbatov scored the opener as Rooney's clever ball allowed him to drop the shoulder on Michael Duff. From a tough angle the Bulgarian then fired on target and helped by a deflection off Duff it then flew past Jensen.
It was a Berbatov shot that led to the second too as Jensen could only push into the path of Rooney. The England striker took his time to find his feet before placing it into the corner of the net.
Diouf and Michael Owen then replaced the United front two and it was the young Senegalese man making just his second appearance that made much the bigger impact.
He sprung the offside trap in the final moments to get his head on the end of Valencia's chipped ball before Jensen, and he celebrated his first goal for United with a spectacular somersault.
The win means United stay just one point behind Chelsea although the Londoners have a game in hand.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Birmingham City 1-1 Manchester United

manchester united missed out on the chance to pinch top spot from Chelsea after they could only manage a 1-1 draw against Birmingham City at St Andrews.

The hosts had taken the lead completely against the run of play through Cameron Jerome six minutes before half-time, but a Scott Dann own goal drew manchester united level just after the hour-mark.

Despite creating a host of first half chances, the Reds failed to test Joe Hart after the break. Tomasz Kuszczak, on the other hand, was forced to make a string of fine saves as manchester united struggled to hit top gear.

Sir Alex made seven changes to the side that lost out to Leeds manchester united in the FA Cup – the 100th successive game he’d tinkered with his starting eleven – with Paul Scholes, Rafael, Patrice Evra, Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Ji-sung Park all returning. A niggling knee injury ruled Dimitar Berbatov out of the gane.

The game was one of only two Barclays Premier League clashes that had survived the big freeze – Arsenal’s match with Everton at the Emirates was the other – but both sets of players and fans still had bitterly cold conditions to contend with, indeed the temperature gage read -3 at kick-off.

It was manchester united’s first outing since their shock Cup exit, and with Chelsea’s trip to Hull called off it was a chance to regain control at the top of the table. The Reds set about getting back on track straight away with Darren Fletcher almost giving the visitors the perfect start. Having seen his initial corner cleared, Antonio Valencia weaved his way into the area, and while his attempted cross was blocked, it dropped to Fletcher just inside the box whose fizzing effort was deflected wide by Sebastian Larsson.

It was somewhat scrappy thereafter with manchester united struggling to find that killer pass in the final third. Wayne Rooney almost found it on 24 minutes after capitalising on Stephen Carr’s failure to deal with a long punt forward. But his curling cross towards the far post, where Valencia was waiting, was well cleared by James McFadden who had got back to cover.

60 seconds later the roles were reversed with Valencia dinking a lovely pass towards Rooney which put the striker through on goal. Unfortunately Joe Hart, one of the league’s in-form stoppers, stood tall and cleared with his legs. Rooney headed just wide soon after as manchester united began to turn the screw.

Fletcher released Park on 32 minutes but Carr did enough to put the Korean off balance and the chance was gone.

Carrick saw successive shots well blocked by Birmingham’s resolute defence as the half neared its conclusion, while Hart was on hand to claim the midfielder’s looped effort soon after.

Birmingham, who had seen very little of the ball up that point, made their first venture into the opposition box on 38 minutes as Cameron Jerome was finally afforded some service. The striker cleverly worked space, but Scholes stole in to block his close range effort. From the resulting corner, Birmingham unbelievably took the lead.

McFadden’s ball in eventually fell to Lee Bowyer who headed it back into the danger area. It rebounded back off Jonny Evans and into the path of Jerome who had the simple task of slotting home from three yards out. It was extremely harsh on the Reds who had totally dominated the opening period.

Things almost got worse at the start of the second half when a Birmingham corner was only half-cleared. Christian Benitez chested down the loose ball before turning and striking it goalwards. Thankfully it was straight at Kuszczak who, despite knowing little about it, parried clear.

As the snow began to fall, so too did manchester united’s performance level and concentration. Stray passes increased, while there was a real a lack of penetration in attack for the Reds with Rooney becoming more and more isolated up front.

But just as Birmingham had been hugely fortunate to take the lead, the Reds were afforded a stroke of good fortune just after the hour-mark when Scott Dann turned the ball into his own net.

Following some penalty-box pinball, the ball eventually dropped to Patrice Evra who lashed a low drive goalwards which Dann could only divert past Hart. As the Reds celebrated, the linesman on the right touchline kept his flag raised to signal offside against Wayne Rooney. But thankfully referee Mark Clattenburg overturned the decision after consulting with his assistant and replays showed Rooney was clearly onside as Evra struck his shot.

Having struggled to get going since the break, you hoped the equaliser would spur manchester united into action, but it was Birmingham who almost found the net again. Carr found Benitez in the box who turned brilliantly away from both Evans and Scholes,but his low shot was well saved by Kuszczak.

Mame Biram Diouf entered the fray for his manchester united debut, joining fellow substitute Ryan Giggs in trying to help the Reds turn one point into three. manchester united’s cause was made all the more difficult, however, six minutes from time when Fletcher was harshly given his marching orders after collecting his second yellow card for a tame trip on Jerome.

Birmingham almost nicked it with a powerful shot from Roger Johnson, but Kuszczak yet again blocked well.

Despite six minutes of added time, manchester united couldn’t find a winner. The result edged the Reds a point closer to Chelsea, but it still felt like a missed opportunity.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Manchester United 0-1 Leeds United

Third-tier Leeds United produced the shock of the third round by knocking record 11-times winners Manchester United out of the FA Cup with a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Fallen giants Leeds, the League One leaders who are 43 places below English champions Manchester United, won thanks to Jermaine Beckford's 19th minute goal and then denied their hosts, second in the Premier League, an equaliser.
It was the first time Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had lost in the third round of the FA Cup, the stage at which teams from England's top two divisions enter the knockout tournament, since he arrived at Old Trafford 24 years ago.
Not since 1984, when beaten by third tier Bournemouth, had Manchester United lost at this stage of the competition.
Victory was also Leeds's first at Old Trafford since 1981.

Their goal came after Jonny Howson's superb 50-yard pass over the head of Wes Brown found striker Beckford and he outpaced the defender before sliding the ball left-footed into the far corner and beyond goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak.
United did threaten and, after Leeds keeper Casper Ankergren had advanced quickly to block Wayne Rooney's initial shot, Jason Crowe had to clear off the line from the England striker.
Ankergren then produced another good block to deny Danny Welbeck early in the second-half.
Just short of the hour mark, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson made a double substitution with veteran forward Ryan Giggs replacing Gabriel Obertan and striker Antonio Valencia coming on for Danny Welbeck.
But still Leeds denied the home side and, with 20 minutes left, Ferguson sent on Michael Owen, his final substitution, only to see the England striker scuff a shot from inside the box moments later.
Rooney then fired way over the crossbar and, with 12 minutes left, Beckford could have made it 2-0 only for his shot to whistle past the far post.
Leeds substitute Robert Snodgrass then hit the crossbar and, in the five minutes of stoppage time, Ankergren saved from Rooney.