MANCHESTER UNITED 4 – 2 STOKE CITY
Wayne Rooney – 27,65 Wayne Rooney (OG) – 11 Robin van Persie – 44 Michael Kightly – 58 Danny Welbeck – 46
VENUE – Old Trafford
REFREEE – Anthony Taylor
Rooney turned from villain to hero when he made amends for his own goals by scoring two goals and guided Manchester United to within 4 points of the league leaders Chelsea. Rooney headed in a Charlie Adam freekick into his own net before heading into the right net from a Persie cross. The Dutch striker soon joined Rooney on the score sheet and despite Stoke being the better team in the first half, it was United who led the game at the break. Welbeck gave United a two goal cushion, heading a Rooney cross into the goal before some sloppy defending from the home side gave Stoke a lifeline. Kightly, who was about to be substituted scored and threw life back into the game, which United seemed to be running away with. Rooney though, had different ideas and scored his 200th club goal. United stay close to Chelsea who beat Spurs earlier in an enthralling contest. United visit Stamford Bridge next week and it is set up perfectly.
Man Utd: De Gea, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Scholes, Carrick, Welbeck, van Persie, Rooney. Subs: Lindegaard, Anderson, Giggs, Hernandez, Nani, Powell, Wootton.
Stoke: Begovic, Cameron, Huth, Shawcross, Wilson, Nzonzi, Whitehead, Walters, Adam, Kightly, Crouch. Subs: Sorensen, Palacios, Jones, Owen, Upson, Etherington, Wilkinson.
Manchester United – Continuing with the new Diamond formation adopted this season, Sir Alex Ferguson started with 3 strikers upfront. Persie, Welbeck and Rooney all started with Valencia completing the attacking quartet. Carrick and Scholes who have been a successful partnership over the years started in the centre of midfield. The defensive problems which seem to easing up a bit mean that Evans started with Ferdinand in the middle of defense. Evra and Rafael, the first choice full backs for the club take their positions alongside the central defenders.
Stoke City –Despite Stoke’s disappointing record at Old Trafford, Tony Pulis opted for An attackin formation with Crouch starting upfront with Walters and Kightly supporting him on the wings. The rest of the side was pretty much the obvious lineup. Begovic has made the goalkeeper’s spot his own in the past couple of season. Shawcross, who recently won his first England cap partnered ex-Chelsea man Robert Huth in the centre of defense. Whitehead and Adam started in the middle of park supporting the attacking play.
United started brightly and were on the attack from the word go. A defensive clearance led to an opportunity for Scholes who uncharacteristically directed his volley wide. The home side was having most of the ball in the opening minutes of the game. The three men upfront for United Rooney, Welbeck and Persie were combining well. Soon the match followed a similar pattern to United’s earlier matches this season. Manchester United were a goal down again. Scholes, hardly known for his tackling mistimed a tackle on Walters who was going nowhere and from the resulting free kick Wayne Rooney headed into his own goal. Just like that Stoke were in front. The goal boosted the confidence of the visitors and they cracked open the United door far too easily. Good defensive work from United prevented Stoke doubling the lead. David de Gea pulled off an amazing save to deny Charlie Adam who was having a magnificent game. Stoke were the better team for a good half an hour.
United was level when Rooney scored at the right end, heading in a delicious cross from the Dutch striker Persie. United were level but Stoke had their chances with the trio of Crouch, Kightly and Walters running the show. For most of the match the United keeper preferred a short build up rather than just hoisting the ball forward from a goal kick. This led to United’s second goal. The move started with the Spaniard and eventually landed with Valencia who laid in on the plate for Persie who brilliantly adjusted his body to slot in his 8th goal for the club. That was pretty much the last moments of the first half and Tony Pulis ruing his side’s failure to turn dominance into goals.
The second half started with a blitz and the home team increased their lead in a matter of seconds. Rooney turned from goal scorer to provider this time. His brilliant ball into the box from the right wing slotted home by a diving header from Welbeck. This brought the home support into life who to be honest were the prawn sandwich brigade termed by Roy Keane. Sensing the opportunity the Red Devils went in for the kill and Evans should have sealed it for United. The Irishman had only to head the ball in with the keeper stranded but somehow headed straight onto the rushing keepers and Stoke survived. United were made to pay for Evans’s miss when Evra lost the ball in the middle of the park and Kighlty reduced the deficit. Determination of Kightly , luck and impotency from the United defenders played a key role in the goal. United, who looked to kill the game after the Welbeck goal was pegged back again. Stoke’s happiness lasted only for a short time though. A scrappy goal from Rooney from a corner meant United led by two goals again. The goal pretty much fizzed the life out of the visitors and United held for a valuable 3 points.
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