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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Manchester United Vs. Everton Highlights Video Clip

Manchester United [0 - 0] Everton
penalty shoot-out : [2 - 4]


Manchester United Vs. Everton Match Report

United are out of the FA Cup after a brave semi-final showing from a very young Reds team, losing 4-2 on penalty kicks at Wembley.

Ironically, it was Phil Jagielka, the man whose foul should have given United a second-half penalty, who scored the winning spot-kick after the two teams could not be separated in 120 minutes of entertaining football. It's Sir Alex's first FA Cup semi-final defeat and ends the chance of an unprecedented quintuple. However, Sir Alex's team selection suggests he has his sights set on the league and Europe.

It had been something of a gamble and there were raised eyebrows when United’s team-sheet was submitted an hour before kick-off, with eight changes from the side that beat FC Porto four days previously. The absentees all stayed in Manchester, though reports that a broken metatarsal would rule Wayne Rooney out for the rest of the season proved woefully wide of the mark.

The average age of the starting team was just 22, the line-up including four teenagers, and seven players aged 25 or under. Sir Alex insisted he couldn’t ask many of his players involved in a taxing battle in Portugal to go again on a heavy Wembley pitch – only Anderson, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic from the team that started at Estadio do Dragao survived. Few, however, could have predicted the boss’ team.

United’s fixture schedule is so hectic that Sir Alex had little choice than to shuffle the pack. Rafael and Fabio started for the first time together (in fact, the first time they’ve been on the pitch together in a competitive Reds match). There was also a first start for Federico Macheda – of recent Premier League match-winning fame. He started up front with Carlos Tevez. Danny Welbeck was deployed at left midfield, Ji-sung Park on the right, with impressive duo, Darron Gibson and Anderson, in the centre.

It would be difficult to argue that, individually, each of the starting eleven had not earned their Wembley opportunity through their performances this season; and it’s in keeping with the youth-first policy in the domestic cups this term. What the selection does suggest is that maximum importance is being placed on clinching the title.

The youthful Reds started very well in a very open game, with Macheda looking exceptionally lively up front. There were few signs of nerves in front of a record FA Cup semi-final crowd of 88,141, and United went closest to scoring first on 22 minutes, when Welbeck’s glancing touch from Rafael’s cross was deflected wide by Joleon Lescott. It coincided with a sustained period of pressure on Everton in the middle of the half.

Welbeck was again wide of the target five minutes before the break in one of United’s best moves of the half. After neat football down the left flank, Macheda slid a wonderful pass between Tony Hibbert and Phil Jagielka, but Welbeck’s shot was wayward. Although the critics will have been queuing up for a chance to criticise the manager’s team selection, the players did him proud in an encouraging 45 minutes, which, although lacking in goalmouth action, saw United control possession.

Everton started the second half with much greater intensity, Tim Cahill forcing a brilliant low save from a previously inactive Ben Foster shortly after the break. Everton were resurgent, and their fans urged them on. It was proving a test of character as much of talent for United’s youngsters. They responded well. With the game becoming stretched, the Reds countered and Park fired just wide of the post.

The Reds had regained control in what was becoming an engrossing game. Gibson was next to strike, fizzing a shot towards the top corner from 25 yards which Tim Howard tipped over. But the breakthrough should have arrived on 68 minutes when Welbeck was blatantly brought down by Jagielka in the box. Somehow Mike Riley adjudged the challenge to be fair. Sir Alex and the United players were understandably furious because that could, and should, have been the Reds’ chance to win it.

Anderson went close with a long-range effort as the game edged into the final fifteen minutes, while the increasingly involved Welbeck curled a shot just over the bar. Both teams patently wanted to end this tie inside 90 minutes. United made the best of the opportunities, but neither side could find the breakthrough as the match headed into extra time, with Dimitar Berbatov replacing Macheda.

Extra time offered few major incidents as both teams seemed settled on deciding this tie on penalties. Neither side could find the breakthrough, largely down to both team’s immovable defences. Jagielka and Lescott impressed, while Ferdinand was solid and Vidic was absolutely immense all afternoon.

It’s the fourth time United have been forced to spot-kicks in the last year (the Champions League final, Community Shield and Carling Cup final being the others), but this would be the first time the Reds tasted defeat. Cahill fluffed the first kick, blazing well over, but Berbatov also missed. Baines made it 1-0, an advantage upheld when Howard saved Ferdinand’s kick. Phil Neville converted, as did Vidic to make it 2-1. But Everton edged closer to the final when Foster could only get a finger tip to Vaughan’s kick. Anderson scored to level, but Jagielka grabbed the decisive goal to win the shoot-out 4-2.