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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ryan Giggs PFA Award 2009


Middlesbrough Vs. Manchester United Match Report

A near-perfect afternoon's work at the Riverside Stadium allowed United to open up a six-point lead at the head of the Premier League table, and rest a number of key players ahead of Tuesday's Champions League semi-final trip to the Emirates Stadium.

Ryan Giggs and Ji-sung Park struck in either half to give the Reds three priceless domestic points, as the annually tricky trip to Middlesbrough evolved into a Saturday afternoon stroll on Teesside. United's defensive resolve and attacking incision bore the hallmark of champions, and barely gave the relegation-haunted hosts a sniff of encouragement.

As expected, Sir Alex Ferguson shuffled his pack with next week's clash with Arsenal at the core of his thinking. Edwin van der Sar, Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and the injured Rio Ferdinand were omitted from the squad entirely, while Anderson, Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez were held in reserve on the substitutes' bench.

That meant only John O'Shea, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Wayne Rooney started after lining up against the Gunners last Wednesday, and Middlesbrough - desperate for points to stave off the very real threat of relegation - were keen to check for any signs that the Reds' collective attentions were already drifting to European matters.

There were certainly none apparent in a keenly-contested opening in which both sides harrassed the other for possession. John O'Shea had to be alert to head Jeremie Aliadiere's cross away from Stewart Downing, while Rooney drilled narrowly over from distance as the first 20 minutes carried little threat of either side opening the scoring.

Boro were the first to genuinely threaten as Marlon King fed Aliadiere deep inside the United area but, with Vidic hurtling across the box to apply vital pressure, the Frenchman could only muster a half-hit shot, which Foster saved well with his feet.

That scare sparked United into life, and within three minutes the champions had forged ahead. After Matthew Bates had brilliantly prevented Giggs from firing off a shot at the expense of a corner, the ball arrived at Vidic on the edge of the area. Bates and Kiko Macheda collided in going for the Serbian's pass and it fell to Giggs, who took a touch and sent an unstoppable low shot skidding into Brad Jones' bottom left-hand corner.

The goal took Giggs to 148 career goals for the Reds, but of more importance was that it largely extinguished the limited vim and vigour in Boro's display, and Paul Scholes might have doubled United's lead on two occasions in the dying stages of the half, but snatched both efforts wide from the edge of the area.

No matter. The Reds' dominance relented only for the interval and, after Macheda had fired Rooney's pull-back just wide, Park struck a sumptuous second goal with just five minutes of the second period gone. Crisp passing and undetectable movement characterised a delicious build-up, crowned by a superb reverse ball from Rooney which allowed Park to strike a clinical first-time effort just inside Jones' post.

The Korean had his first goal since September's strike at Chelsea, and had also secured three vital points in the ongoing title race. Boro were now devoid of any belief that they could mount a comeback, and Sir Alex gradually freshened up his team with the introduction of Carlos Tevez, Nani and Rafael for Macheda, Park and Evra.

Despite the absence of Ferdinand, United's defence was rarely troubled, and only a last-ditch challenge from David Wheater prevented Tevez from capping a winding run with a goal of his own. Similarly desperate defending allowed Robert Huth to deny O'Shea a second goal in a week, while Rooney curled a 20-yard free-kick just wide.

The earlier goals from Giggs and Park had already done enough, though, and United could canter to the finish line. Only seven points from four remaining domestic games will secure a third successive Premier League title, and attentions can switch to Tuesday's Champions League trip to the Emirates Stadium.

Middlesbrough Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clip

Middlesbrough [0 - 2] Manchester United
25' [0 - 1] R. Giggs
51' [0 - 2] J. Park

0-1 R.Giggs 25'

0-2 J.Park 51'