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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Manchester United Vs. Bolton Match Report Result

Never gets tiring, does it? Stack the odds as high as you want, United will find a way to overcome them.

Dimitar Berbatov poked home a potentially priceless late winner for the league leaders, who had been frustrated for long periods by a magnificent defensive display from Bolton, while also being reduced to 10 men for a heavy challenge by Jonny Evans on Stuart Holden.

Led by inspired displays from Gary Cahill and David Wheater in the centre of defence, the Trotters rarely offered United a clear opening, but Berbatov pounced to pinch the points just as time seemed to be running out for Sir Alex Ferguson's side.

Starting the first instalment of a five-match touchline ban, the United manager again had to patch up his backline. Wes Brown was shunted to right-back by the return of Evans, who joined Chris Smalling in the centre of defence. Patrice Evra continued at left-back.

With a surfeit of fit wingers, however, the United manager deployed Nani and Antonio Valencia on opposite flanks and repurposed another, Ryan Giggs, to join Michael Carrick in central midfield.

Bolton arrived at Old Trafford on the back of a six-game unbeaten run and, like United, fresh from booking a berth in this season’s FA Cup semi-finals. The Trotters struck the first blow even before kick-off; winning the toss and forcing United to flip custom and attack the Stretford End in the first period.

There was another scare for United within two minutes, as Evans’ slip allowed Johan Elmander to tee up Fabrice Muamba, but the midfielder’s clunky first touch sent the ball out of play, when a first-time shot would have posed serious questions of Edwin van der Sar.

There was no such indecision in United’s forward play moment s later, however. Wayne Rooney needed no second invitation to pull the trigger from 25 yards, and his powerful drive arrowed just a yard wide of Jussi Jaaskelainen’s top corner.

Both sides continued to trade early blows, and the Reds might have had a penalty when Cahill flung himself to block a Chicharito shot, and the Mexican’s half-hit effort was diverted wide by the defender’s flailing hand.

Those claims were waved away by referee Andre Marriner, who found himself further subjected to home protestations soon afterwards when he deemed Evans to have fouled Kevin Davies just outside the United area. The Reds’ ire was soothed, however, when van der Sar comfortably clutched Martin Petrov’s set-piece.

To and fro, the game continued to swing, with both sides’ ambition coming at the cost of composure in possession, but not chances. Rooney’s powerfully volley from a Valencia cross was well fielded by Jaaskelainen, while Evra alertly blocked Elmander’s effort. In riposte, a neat exchange between Valencia and Rooney culminated in the striker’s cross being turned wide by Chicharito.

The front pairing’s link-up bore signs of their increased familiarity, having started five of the last six games in tandem, but the visitors scarcely allowed either striker a chink of space to exploit. Perhaps mindful of this, Rooney sent another vicious long-range effort scorching over the bar shortly before half-time.

Unexpectedly, Sir Alex used the interval to freshen up his side’s approach, introducing Berbatov and Fabio at the expense of Chicharito and Brown.

The move prompted a spell of sustained United pressure early in the second period, but still the visitors held firm, marshalled superbly by the central defensive pairing of Cahill and Wheater. The latter might have given his side the lead on the hour mark, but missed Petrov’s corner despite rising above his marker. As Bolton enjoyed a spell of pressure, Petrov’s drilled cross then narrowly cleared van der Sar’s crossbar, though the Dutchman assuredly watched it fly by.

Still the visitors pressed, leaving relatively open space behind them. Carrick performed a heroic block to repel Davies’ shot, then in the same passage of play Nani led a breakaway which culminated in Rooney’s pull-back being cleared by the omnipresent Cahill.

Berbatov had scarcely been afforded a sight of goal since his introduction, but the Bulgarian almost broke the deadlock out of nothing with 20 minutes remaining; steering a snapshot just past the top corner from 20 yards, with Jaaskelainen rooted. Berbatov was then released by a superb through-ball from Valencia, but Cahill hunted down United’s number nine and executed a stunning challenge to hook the ball to safety.

Just as the Reds were seemingly turning the screw and making chances, however, Evans and Holden contested a 50-50 challenge from which the Northern Ireland defender emerged to a red card from referee Andre Marriner, while the American midfielder left the field on a stretcher with several of his team-mates in visible distress. Though the Stretford End howled its displeasure, Evans' relative resignation intimated knowledge of his wrongdoing.

Elmander slammed the subsequent free-kick just past van der Sar’s post, but it was still United who pressed, and Rooney brought a smart save from Jaaskelainen with a low, near-post effort. The danger of committing so much to the pursuit of victory was underlined, however, when substitute Matty Taylor, on for Holden, planted a free header straight at van der Sar.

Undeterred, United continued to throw caution to the wind. Jaaskelainen parried a Nani shot to safety, but moments later was less convincing in repeating the feat when the Portuguese winger again chanced his arm from just outside the box. Pouncing at the perfect time, Berbatov steered the loose ball under the Finnish stopper to send Old Trafford into delirium.

Credit is unquestionaly due to Bolton for their part in a hard-fought encounter, while well-wishes will also be extended to Holden for a speedy recovery, but the importance of this victory to United's hopes of a 19th league title cannot be overstated.

Manchester United Vs. Bolton Highlights Video Clip

Manchester United [1 - 0] Bolton
88' [1 - 0] D. Berbatov


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Manchester United Vs. Marseilles Match Report Result

United are through to the Champions League quarter-finals thanks to a close-range couple from Javier Hernandez - but it was a far from comfortable night for the Reds after conceding a late away goal at Old Trafford.
Wes Brown's unfortunate own goal created an anxious last eight minutes but Sir Alex Ferguson's men held out to win 2-1 and book a place in the last-eight draw alongside the likes of Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s pre-match promise to go for it was reflected in his line-up as Nani and Ryan Giggs returned to the flanks and Paul Scholes was restored in the centre. The bench also had a strong emphasis on attack with the marauding midfield stars of Saturday’s FA Cup win over Arsenal, Rafael and Fabio, plus Antonio Valencia and Dimitar Berbatov among the seven subs. The defence, however, was not the expected quartet with a calf problem forcing Nemanja Vidic to join Rio Ferdinand on the sidelines.

Marseille, meanwhile, had top scorer Andre-Pierre Gignac back – he missed the first leg in France. Ex-United defender Gabriel Heinze started for the visitors in central defence, perhaps a safer haven than at left-back where Nani stretched him a fortnight ago.

The Reds engineered the perfect start from the opposite wing – United’s left. Rooney fed Ryan Giggs, scurried forward to collect the return pass and then drilled a low ball into the six-yard box for Hernandez to gleefully tap home. Marseille’s stunned defenders appealed in vain for offside as the Reds raced away to celebrate the Mexican’s 15th goal for the club, his first in Europe since the winner in Valencia in late September.

Gignac had a golden opportunity to equalise three minutes later when a flick over the top found him in the area behind Smalling and Brown; fortunately Marseille’s number 10 rushed his big moment and missed the target comfortably. Smalling was sharper when Gignac next ventured into his territory, showing great body strength to shield and keep the ball much to the Frenchman’s frustration.

The duel between Hernandez and Heinze had top billing in the early part of the match, however. The United striker clattered into his opponent for the game’s first yellow card and was then sent sprawling by a retaliatory challenge moments later. The Argentine centre-back escaped a caution for his foul, but he was almost punished for his defending again; instead Hernandez headed Rooney’s lofted pass into the hands of Steve Mandanda. When the keeper’s poor clearance, straight to Nani, gave United another sniff at goal, Rooney spurned the chance to shoot and Marseille escaped.

Although there were one or two other half-chances for Nani and Rooney, the threat of a game-changing away goal began to increase as the score remained 1-0 and the half wore on. Lucho Gonzalez blazed a free-kick over from close to the byline, Souleymane Diawara despatched a free header into the Stretford End, Loic Remy thundered a volley wide and Benoit Cheyrou had a long-range shot easily saved by Edwin van der Sar. All warning signs will have been duly noted by Sir Alex as he followed his troops into the dressing room, no doubt to stress the need for a second Reds strike.

Marseille's inaccuracy in front of goal had given van der Sar only light duties in the first half but he was the first keeper called into action after the break, diving bravely at the feet of Gignac to claim a dangerous ball. The Dutchman took a knock to the head in the process and fleetingly there were fears of a second enforced substitution - John O'Shea had strained a hamstring ten minutes before the interval to be replaced by Rafael. Fortunately van der Sar was fine and the home faithful breathed easy.

Relief was also the overriding feeling when Loic Remy blasted the ball across the area after weaving his way into the area, and later when Brown clumsily missed Taiwo's cross from the left. More like light relief when Heinze got his header horribly wrong from a corner and the United fans responded with a taunt recalling his infamous attempt to sign for Liverpool.

United's defensive ranks were depleted again when Rafael was carried off, seemingly with another hamstring problem; his brother Fabio was the ultimate 'like-for-like' replacement. A more positive substitution was the earlier introduction of Antonio Valencia. On for Nani, the Ecuadorian attacked Taiwo with great relish and the Reds were soon rewarded when his pass was forwarded on by Giggs and Hernandez bagged his and United's second goal with another simple finish.

Marseille had good chances before the Mexican made it 2-0 - the pick being Cheyrou's low shot, saved by van der Sar, after all-too-easy approach play with Remy on the right wing. More power from the Marseille midfielder and the away goal would have been chalked up at 1-1. Instead it came at 2-1 - Brown's header inadvertently beating his own goalkeeper, despite Scholes' effort to clear from behind the line.

The own goal set up an anxious finish, with memories of Porto's late draw in 2004 perhaps preying on some Mancunian minds. Thankfully there would be no sting in the tail and the Reds are through to keep another Wembley dream well and truly alive.

Manchester United Vs. Marseille Highlights Video Clips

Manchester United [2 - 1] Marseille
5' [1 - 0] J. Hernandez
75' [2 - 0] J. Hernandez
82' [2 - 1] W. Brown (o.g.)

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Manchester United Vs. Arsenal Highlights Video Clips

Manchester United [2 - 0] Arsenal
28' [1 - 0] F.d. Silva
49' [2 - 0] W. Rooney

1-0 Fabio 28'

2-0 Rooney 49'

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Liverpool Vs. Manchester United Match Result Report

United’s Premier League title quest suffered a second successive setback as Dirk Kuyt’s hat-trick gave Liverpool a deserved victory at Anfield.

The Dutch striker turned home a quickfire pair of close-range finishes, firstly hoofing home from on the goalline after impressive skill from Luis Suarez, then nodding home from an errant clearing header by Nani.

United’s Portuguese winger was then carried off amid ugly scenes at the end of the first period, following a shocking high challenge from Jamie Carragher. The veteran defender was only booked, however, and was quickly followed by Edwin van der Sar, Rafael and Martin Skrtel into referee Phil Dowd’s notebook.

Although United rallied in the second half, Kuyt completed his hat-trick when he tapped home another close-range finish, this time after van der Sar had spilled Suarez’s free-kick. The Reds' only tangible reward came in injury-time, when Chicharito clinically nodded home Ryan Giggs' right-wing cross.

Sir Alex Ferguson again opted to field Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov in tandem upfront, flanked by wingers Giggs and Nani, with Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick in midfield.

With Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic absent through injury and suspension respectively, Wes Brown returned to the starting line-up alongside Chris Smalling. Rafael also came in at the expense of John O'Shea, while Patrice Evra recovered from injury to take his spot on the left flank.

For the hosts, Steven Gerrard played despite pre-match suggestions that he would be ruled out by a groin injury. Club record signing Andy Carroll, meanwhile, was named on the bench for the first time since his January arrival from Newcastle.

Liverpool made the brighter start to the game, and only poor control from Suarez prevented him from making the most of Raul Meireles’ drilled cross. Instead the ball bobbled through to van der Sar.

Though the hosts’ hassling and harrying allowed United little time to settle, Berbatov almost struck a spectacular opening goal just after the quarter-hour mark, clipping the outside of Pepe Reina’s post with an audacious swerving volley.

United slowly began to grow in stature, and again came close to taking the lead when Brown’s deflected header was cleared off the line by Meireles. Instead, Liverpool forged ahead after superb trickery from Suarez, who turned away from Smalling and Rafael, bypassed challenges from Carrick and Brown and squared for Kuyt to smash in a finish from the goalline.

Tails up, Liverpool soon pressed home their advantage. Van der Sar dashed from his line to make a superb sprawling save from Maxi Rodriguez, before Nani mis-judged Suarez’s deep cross and headed back towards his own goal. Kuyt, deep inside the six-yard box, was more accurate with his own header and doubled the hosts’ lead.

Nani’s afternoon soon lunged from bad to worse, as Carragher planted his studs high into the winger’s shin. As tempers flared on both sides, Nani leapt to his feet to show Dowd his wound, then collapsed in agony before being stretchered from the field, to be replaced by Chicharito. Carragher was booked, as was van der Sar for dissent. Soon afterwards, Rafael and Skrtel entered the book for a set-to after a strong challenge from the United defender.

Half-time soothed tempers on both sides, but United started the second period with greater intent. Chicharito steered Berbatov’s cross narrowly off target, before Giggs did likewise from Rooney’s centre. Berbatov then argued that he had reduced the arrears, but the officials correctly ruled that the Bulgarian’s header had been blocked on the line by Meireles.

United’s cause was lost when Kuyt completed his close-range treble shortly after the hour. Suarez’s free-kick bounced just in front of van der Sar, who couldn’t clutch the ball, and his fellow Dutchman raced in to sweep home a finish and emulate Berbatov’s September hat-trick at Old Trafford.

Thereafter, United sought a route back into the match, but merely in vain. Carrick’s cross narrowly evaded Chicharito, then the midfielder's shot was deflected marginally wide of Reina's post, but the game had long since passed the Reds by. The goal, when it came, was too late. Injury-time had already begun when Chicharito rose to clinically nod home Giggs' cross, hence the strike merely illustrated the little Mexican's predatory instincts, rather than heralding a dramatic fightback.

The defeat, and the nature of it, is a substantial setback for United. But a three-point advantage over second-placed Arsenal, who have a game in hand, still constitutes a lead. United are masters of their own destiny, but must quickly get back on track.

Liverpool Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clips

Liverpool [3 - 1] Manchester United
34' [1 - 0] D. Kuyt
39' [2 - 0] D. Kuyt
65' [3 - 0] D. Kuyt
90' [3 - 1] J. Hernandez


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chelsea Vs. Manchester United Match Report Result

United, gunning for a 19th league title, and Chelsea, reigning English champions, produced a barnstorming, end-to-end game of football that left no neutral disappointed.

That won’t sate Sir Alex’s men, though, who took the lead at Stamford Bridge through Wayne Rooney before surrendering it early in the second half and then, fatally, conceding a late penalty. What's more, referee Martin Atkinson's decision to award the spot-kick came barely two minutes after Blues defender David Luiz, already on a yellow card, escaped punishment after crudely halting Rooney at the other end.

Frank Lampard ignored the Reds' protests to convert the chance from 12 yards and hand the Blues victory, but United, however aggrieved after the final whistle, remain at the top of the Barclays Premier League, four points clear of Arsenal.

Perhaps more worrying than Tuesday's defeat was Nemanja Vidic's second yellow card in injury time. It means he will now miss United’s trip to Anfield on Sunday. That’s the next challenge that faces the Reds and one Sir Alex must now ensure his troops are prepared for, both physically and mentally.

Chelsea’s victory on Tuesday night was something of a shock given the Blues’ recent form, although just as big a surprise was Sir Alex’s team selection. In each of the past 165 matches, the Reds boss has made at least one tweak to his starting XI. Against Chelsea, though, he put his faith in the same 11 who triumphed at Wigan on Saturday. That meant starts for John O’Shea and Chris Smalling in defence, while Dimitar Berbatov had to settle for a spot on the bench.

The game began brightly and Chelsea had the ball in the net after a minute. But Martin Atkinson’s whistle had already blown by the time Fernando Torres’ strike flew into the top corner after Vidic had cleared a Florent Malouda cross.

Minutes later, the Blues’ French connection of Malouda and Nicolas Anelka combined to fashion a chance for the winger. But Malouda’s shot, side-footed from the edge of the penalty area, was straight at Edwin van der Sar and the Dutchman clung gratefully to the ball. The Dutchman would face tougher tests before the night was out.

United, meanwhile, were uncharacteristically careless in possession for much of the opening 15 minutes. Even Paul Scholes, who usually treats the ball with the sort of care and attention reserved for newborn babies, was guilty of dwelling for too long or misplacing passes.

The Reds did settle, though, and with a quarter of an hour gone, Nani played Patrice Evra in behind the Chelsea defence. The Frenchman – perhaps shooting – squared the ball across the six-yard box but Rooney couldn’t arrive at the far post in time to apply the finish.

The England striker then spurned a more presentable chance when he shouldered the ball wide when attempting a header before a frantic opening 25 minutes came to an end after Evra floored Luiz with a long-range shot that took the wind out of the Brazilian.

All that bluster was just the prelude to Rooney’s fabulous opener, though. The forward, who’d endured a rather frustrating start to the fixture, collected Nani’s pass 25 yards from goal and initially looked as if he would lay the ball off to Michael Carrick. But with no Chelsea defender moving to close down Rooney, the Reds’no.10 took another touch, advanced, and drilled a low shot inside Petr Cech’s right-hand post.

Incredibly, for a player with a penchant for the spectacular, it was Rooney’s first goal from outside the penalty area since February 2008. Importantly, in a fixture Sir Alex had branded “must-win” before kick-off, it handed United advantage going into the half-time break.

That lead was only threatened once before the interval, and the Reds had van der Sar and Vidic to thank for keeping the Blues goalless. First, van der Sar made a fine save down to his right from Frank Lampard’s low free-kick. Branislav Ivanovic arrived first and looked certain to tap in the rebound but Edwin somehow palmed his effort onto Vidic, who’d raced behind the goalkeeper and onto the line. Then, as the ball looped into the air, van der Sar, by this stage on the ground and facing the wrong way, clawed the ball away to safety.

The Dutchman again proved his worth early in the second period, fielding an Ashley Cole cross and then a Lampard shot with consummate ease. But there was nothing he could do when Luiz rifled home the equaliser on 54 minutes. The Brazilian pounced first on a loose ball after the Reds had failed to sufficiently clear a Chelsea corner and lashed a volley into the bottom corner.

Chelsea were back in it and soon pushing for another. Stamford Bridge, usually more cathedral than cauldron, came alive and Carlo Ancelotti threw on Didier Drogba. But the Reds rode the storm and even carved out a golden chance on the counter-attack, which Rooney fluffed when caught in two minds between shooting and crossing.

But just as United looked like edging back into the game, Chelsea were handed a lifeline when Yuri Zhirkov tumbled over Chris Smalling’s outstretched right leg and referee Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot. It was a decision Sir Alex later branded as "very soft" but Lampard made no mistake with the penalty, slamming the ball into the roof of the net from 12 yards. It felt like a dagger to United hearts, condemning the Reds to defeat in a game neither side deserved to lose.

With a trip to Anfield scheduled this Sunday, the Reds can't afford to dwell on refereeing decisions or stew in self-pity. Instead, Sir Alex's men must bounce back and display the sort of spirit that's characterised so many of United's title-winning sides of the past.

Chelsea Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clips

Chelsea [2 - 1] Manchester United
29' [0 - 1] W. Rooney
54' [1 - 1] D. Luiz
79' [2 - 1] F. Lampard (pen.)

0-1 Rooney 29'

1-1 David Luiz 54'

2-1 Lampard (Penalty) 79'