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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Manchester United Vs. Middlesbrough Highlight


Boss salutes 'amazing' Reds

Sir Alex was delighted with United's fourth four-goal haul in as many matches, but admitted the Reds almost let Middlesbrough back into the game.

Nani fired United into the lead in the third minute, only for former Arsenal forward Jeremie Aliadiere to equalise three minutes later.

"For weeks people were going on about our 1-0 wins but now they're going on about us scoring four. It's amazing!" the manager told MUTV. "Some of the attacking play today was very good, although when we got in front we took our foot off the pedal. We started running with the ball, didn't play the way we normally play and paid the penalty.

"We weren't getting to the ball quick enough and I think the players really needed a wake-up call, and that's exactly what their goal did to us. Credit to Middlesbrough for that 20-minute period where they got in and about us."

Gareth Southgate's side may have made things difficult for the Reds in the first half, but the second period was all United and the match ended 4-1.

"There was no doubt we were on top in the second half," Sir Alex agreed. "There was far more concentration, our attacking play improved and we could have scored a lot of goals."

The boss was particularly impressed with Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney, who linked superbly for United's third.

"I think that goal sums up their partnership. It was all about quick-thinking, great vision and, you know, the courage to even try that. Wayne could have taken another touch but he knew Tevez was making that run and a little backheel put him in on goal. It was a fantastic goal and hopefully we're going to see a more complete partnership." Read more...

Super Nani shines

Sir Alex's decision to plump for Nani ahead of Ryan Giggs on Saturday paid dividends for the United boss, with the Portuguese wonder-kid lighting up the Reds' 4-1 win over Middlesbrough.

Nani kick-started the goal spree with a long-range missile in the third minute… after coming in off the left wing and beating three Boro defenders.

"He doesn't score tap-ins," Sir Alex joked on MUTV. "He's a thunderbolt-hitter. It was a fantastic goal and Nani's coming along very nicely. I thought it would be refreshing to use him today instead of Ryan Giggs. I've got next Saturday to think about [so I rested Ryan] but Nani came on and had a good impact."

The 20-year-old had a hand in most of the Reds' meaningful attacks, particularly in the first half, and his contribution didn't escape striker Wayne Rooney.

"He came in today and did really well," Rooney said. "His goal was a great strike – it bent and dipped all over the place."

Nani's two United goals have both come at Old Trafford, and both with the scores locked at 0-0. Read more...

Clever Carlos wins Wayne's heart

Wayne Rooney heaped praise on strike partner Carlos Tevez after United's summer signing notched twice in the Reds' 4-1 win over Middlesbrough.

Nani and Rooney found the net before half-time before Tevez rocked the visitors with a further two goals in the second half.

"Playing with Carlos is brilliant," Rooney told MUTV. "He's a clever player, very intelligent, and I think we both work well together. We've both been scoring a few goals lately so we're pleased with that."

Rooney and Tevez shone throughout the match, with the crowning moment arriving in the 55th minute when Tevez fired home after collecting a sumptuous return pass from the England international.

"The best way to play football is pass and move and as soon as Carlos gave me the ball I could see him starting his run out of the corner of my eye. He got on the end of my backheel and I'm delighted for him to have scored two today. He's worked very hard over the last two games and he deserves those goals."

Rooney's also been among the goals recently and has scored six in the Reds' last five matches.

"I know it's my job to score goals and I try and score in every game I play. I'm happy with how things are going and I'm hoping that can continue.

"To play in this team is an honour. We're playing fast, attacking football and that's the football I want to be involved in." Read more...

Hargreaves glad to be back

Injury has ravaged Owen Hargreaves' start to life as a United player, so it's little surprise that he savoured every second of Saturday's win over Middlesbrough.

The England midfielder played 65 minutes of United's 4-1 victory, and turned in another typically combative performance on only his fourth Reds appearance.

"It’s been very stop and start," Owen told MUTV. "You just want to get involved, it’s great to get back in the team and have a game, especially when the game is won.

"I’ve been out for quite some time, so I’m a bit sore, a bit stiff, but those things are part and parcel when you’ve been out. We’ve got a few days before the Arsenal game, so we’ll try and do things right so that I’m fit."

Hargreaves' injury absence has been an unusual one, with recurring knee problems, and he makes no attempt to hide his frustration at being repeatedly sidelined.

"It’s been frustrating because I’ve really had it since the end of last season," he said. "I’ve spoken to a lot of doctors and specialists, and they’ve explained to me that it’s not really a problem with the knee, it’s a structural problem with the biomechanics.

"For some reason my body’s not happy with the way it is, so you need insoles and things to correct that. I’ve been trying to get round it and find the answer because I don’t want to miss any games, I want to be fit for the rest of the season." Read more...

Manchester United Vs. Middlesbrough Match Report

Middlesbrough have traditionally held something of a hoodoo over United at Old Trafford, but even they couldn't do anything to prevent another vibrant attacking display from Sir Alex Ferguson's side.

Goals from Nani, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez (twice) invalidated an early equaliser from Jeremie Aliadiere and put United on top of the Barclays Premier League, ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Liverpool on Sunday.

Following on from convincing victories over Wigan, Aston Villa and Dynamo Kyiv, the scoreline also marked a fourth-consecutive four-goal haul, equalling a club record set back in the 1907/08 season.

The only noteworthy change to Sir Alex Ferguson’s line-up saw Owen Hargreaves return for only his fourth United appearance, his first taste of action since the victory over Sunderland on September 1.

Whereas Boro traditionally come to Old Trafford with a stifling approach clearly at the fore, Gareth Southgate’s 4-4-2 formation suggested the potential for an open game, and the early goal bore that out in style.

The deadlock was broken inside three minutes as Nani picked the ball up on the left flank, just inside the Boro half. The Portuguese winger beat three defenders, cut inside and sent goalwards a scorching 30-yard drive which arced over the flailing Schwarzer.

Less than two minutes later, Carlos Tevez could have doubled the Reds’ lead. The Argentine striker was sent clean through, but his attempt to lift the ball over Schwarzer was thwarted by the Australian stopper.

United would rue that miss moments later as the visitors drew level. Turkish striker Tuncay, who scored a hat-trick for Fenerbahce in his last appearance against the Reds, did superbly to outfox John O’Shea and send in a cross, which Aliadiere glanced in off van der Sar’s far post.

The Turk proved troublesome again after 24 minutes, arcing in another fine cross which Stewart Downing headed wastefully past the far post. Boro were by no means bossing the game, but they were certainly proving a handful on the counter-attack.

United, as per, were enjoying the lion’s share of possession, and responded to Downing’s near-miss with one of their own, as Ronaldo latched onto Rooney’s pass and sent a left-footed shot skidding just past Schwarzer’s post.

Downing was heavily involved again as United retook the lead after 32 minutes. The England international dwelled on the ball inside his own area and, as he attempted to pass clear, Nani nicked the ball to Rooney, who hammered a shot past Schwarzer and in.

The Australian was called into action again moments later as United sought to extend their lead. A spell of heavy pressure ended with O’Shea sliding the ball back to Ronaldo, whose low sidefooted effort was held by Schwarzer.

United seemed liberated by the chance to savour their advantage, and they continued to pile the pressure on Boro’s goal, coming agonizingly close to scoring a third in first-half injury time.

A defensive slip allowed Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo to break against just one Boro defender, but Rooney’s overhit pass to Tevez was half-cleared to Nani. In the ensuing melee, the winger’s cross fell invitingly to Ronaldo, but the ball merely bounced off him and ricocheted straight to Schwarzer.

The lead stayed at just the one goal going into the break, but it could easily have been extended further within a minute of the restart as Tevez fed Rooney, but the England striker could only fire narrowly over the crossbar with a diagonal shot.

Much had been made of the burgeoning English-Argentine partnership upfront after their prominent role against Aston Villa and Dynamo Kyiv, and they combined again to devastating effect to put United 3-1 ahead.

Tevez flicked a long ball straight to Rooney and continued his run into the box. Tevez then slipped below radar as he crept into the box, but Rooney was able to find him with a sumptuous back-heel, which teed up the Argentine for a simple slid finish.

Parallels have been drawn between the infamous Cole-Yorke partnership and the current Tevez-Rooney pairing of late, and this goal was the most glaring sign of similarity yet. The duo’s interplay immediately evoked memories of Cole’s much-heralded 1998 goal against Barcelona, scored with similarly intuitive front-play.

With a two-goal lead established, Sir Alex opted to bring on Darren Fletcher and Gerard Pique for some much-needed playing time, as they replaced Hargreaves and Ferdinand respectively.

Ryan Giggs also replaced Anderson after another impressive display from the young Brazilian, but there was no disruption to United’s attacking flow, and they grabbed a fourth goal with five minutes remaining.

Rooney broke from deep inside his own half and left Cattermole trailing in his wake before picking out Tevez, who cut inside and, although his goal-bound shot struck Taylor’s arm, it bounced down into the ground and past the hapless Schwarzer.

Manchester United: Van der Sar; Brown, Vidic, Ferdinand (Pique, 73), O’Shea; Ronaldo, Hargreaves (Fletcher, 66), Anderson (Giggs, 78), Nani; Tevez, Rooney.
Subs not used: Kuszczak, Simpson.

Middlesbrough: Schwarzer; Young, Woodgate, Wheater, Taylor; O’Neil, Cattermole (Boateng, 90), Rochemback, Downing; Tuncay (Lee, 80), Aliadiere (Hutchinson, 55).
Subs not used: Turnbull, Hines.

Attendance: 75,720