The game itself was quite different from our usual trips to Old Trafford. There was passing and thinking involved on the field as opposed to plain hoofball. We had Cahill and Fellaini fit for the game and so we could name and unchanged side. With Rooney out, Berbatov and Tevez started upfront and Gary Neville (thank god we got the better of the two Nevilles) captained the side against his brother. Mark Halsey, the league's most lenient referee was the official for the game.
United shot out of the blocks and we were soon under pressure. Howard seemed ready for a busy day in goal as he made a few good saves early on. A cross/shot from Park was well kept out. Ronaldo then hit the post with a snap shot as United piled on the pressure.
The only time we looked threatening was when we attacked down the left with Pienaar and Baines playing some neat football but the crosses from Baines lacked that little something to outwit the miserly Van der Sar. Carrick among others had a shot on goal as the half wore on. Correct me if I'm wrong but he looks like his head was kept in the toaster for a little too long as it's flattened from back to front...
Just as we looked like we would go into the interval all square... tragedy hit. Arteta left a leg trailing and Carrick obliged on the edge of the area and stayed on his feet for a while before tumbling down and earning a penalty which Ronaldo cheekily placed down the middle as Howard dived to his right.
The second half started much like the first with United pushing forward in numbers. No sooner had the half got underway when Toaster-Head decided to try for another penalty (seen them given against us to be honest!) when Lescott pulled away at the last minute inside the box to reduce the impact on Carrick. Halsey waved play on as Old Trafford looked stunned.
As the half went on, we started to look tired and Ronaldo started to showboat with step-overs and make-overs but most often it ended with us blocking it and him sitting on the ground sulking. Sir Alex brought off their Neville and brought on Giggs and Moyes made his change a little later with Vic coming on for Fellaini. Pienaar was getting caught time after time and yet each time the United player was throwing his arms up as if to say — "Who? Me???"
Then, right at the end, I felt that we were denied a penalty of our own when Lescott was hauled to the ground by Rio (a la Carragher) but no penalty given and the stupid line from Paul Walsh... he also added how Carra had made a similar challenge on Lescott in last year's Derby but that too was deemed to not be a penalty.
There was just enough time for United to threaten a few more time with Tevez, Ronaldo, Carrick and Park all having shots blocked or saved by an inspired Howard. The game ended 1-0 and I was proud of the way we played for once at United.
Howard: Had a blinder today but wish he coulda somehow have saved the penalty.
Hibbert: Was really tested by Ronaldo and park on the right side but coped pretty well i must say. Has been a revelation after coming back from injury.
Jagielka: Immense as always
Lescott: Solid as well and was denied a clear penalty in my eyes
Baines: Improving with each game but has to work on the crosses
Neville: Fought hard and thankfully wasn't booked.
Arteta: Was relatively quiet all evening except for the misguided heat seeking missile at the corner flag from the free-kick
Pienaar: Was full of beans as always and if his name was Ronaldo, woulda got lots of opposition players booked for incessant fouling.
Osman: Sadly has been the weak link in midfield... when did you last remember an attack from the right?
Fellaini: Got stuck in from the word go and was talked to a few times in the first 5 mins but settled down later and didn't get booked.
Cahill: Ran his socks off and I hope he gets some rest so he can be glorious for us again on Wednesday when we can move into the 5th round of the FA Cup.
To me the lads were great but they have to be getting tired of so many games against such good opposition in such a short span of time. Can we pull off a miracle transfer for some striker/midfielder in the next few hours??? I sometimes wonder whether its better to not have commentary for a game since they talk such rubbish anyways... Anwards and upwards... let's give them a real rollicking on Wednesday.
ps: Loved that Villa (hence Wigan too), Arsenal (same for West Ham) all drew.
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