United’s mixture of youth and experience reached the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup after overcoming a dogged Queens Park Rangers at a bitterly cold Old Trafford.
The Reds were much-changed after the weekend defeat by Arsenal but had enough to see off the Championship side in a scrappy game which only spluttered into life late in the second half.
Carlos Tevez broke the visitors' resistance from the penalty spot with 15 minutes left and United saw out the rest of the game without great alarm to reach the last eight for the first time since lifting the trophy three seasons ago.
As expected, Sir Alex Ferguson opted to rest several of his senior players and hand starts to youngsters Jonny Evans, Darron Gibson and Rodrigo Possebon – the latter for the first time since suffering a leg injury in the last round against Middlesbrough.
And the Brazilian midfielder almost got on the end of Anderson’s sixth-minute corner, only to see the ball nicked from the top of his head.
Tevez started as the only out-and-out striker and was determined to impress, twice testing Radek Cerny from the edge of the box early on and then shaving the near post with a flick-on from John O’Shea’s cross.
Rangers, playing in a 4-5-1 formation, were largely effective in restricting United to long-range strikes in the first period. Anderson stung Cerny’s palms from the edge of the box, while Saturday’s goalscorer Rafael tried his luck again but his left-foot shot sailed over.
That said, the visitors offered nothing going forward, with Tomasz Kuszczak given little to do other than endure the freezing Manchester night air.
United began the second half with greater intent and Nani sent a flashing drive past Cerny’s right-hand post.
Ji-sung Park then went even closer with a rising shot that smacked the post after Rafael had superbly outfoxed two Rangers defenders on the byline.
Tevez was denied again minutes later as Cerny tipped over his powerful drive from an acute angle, before the Rangers keeper parried another drive from Anderson, still seeking his first Reds goal.
Danny Welbeck, whose only previous first-team appearance this season came in the last round of this competition, replaced Possebon with 20 minutes to go and had an immediate impact as he won the decisive penalty.
The pacy young striker ran onto Nani’s pass on the left-hand side of the box, poked the ball past Peter Ramage and was upended by the former Newcastle defender, leaving referee Phil Dowd with little choice but to point to the spot.Tevez stepped up to send Cerny the wrong way and all but end any hopes Rangers had of forcing extra-time.
Gareth Ainsworth’s side were, however, forced to come out of their shell and Dexter Blackstock saw a shot blocked before substitute Samuel Di Carmine was flagged offside as he diverted the ball home.
Nani twice could have sealed it but Cerny was again on hand to deny him, before Emmanuel Ledesma curled QPR’s best chance of the game wide at the death.
No matter, United held on and are in the hat for the next round, just reward for another sound performance from Ferguson’s youngsters.
Manchester United: Kuszczak; Rafael, Evans, Neville (Vidic 90), O'Shea; Gibson, Anderson, Possebon (Welbeck 72); Nani, Park, Tevez.
Subs not used: Foster, Carrick, Manucho, Cleverley, Gray.
Queens Park Rangers: Cerny; Stewart, Connolly, Hall, Ramage Mahon; Parejo (Ledesma 46), Buzsaky (Agyemang 33), Rowlands, Cook (Di Carmine 78); Blackstock.
Subs not used: Delaney, Gorkss, Ephraim, Cole.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Manchester United [1 - 0] Queens Park Rangers
76' [1 - 0] C.A. Tevez (pen.)
76' [1 - 0] C.A. Tevez (pen.)