Thursday, 29 January 2009

Manchester United V West Bromich Albion, 28th January 2009

United fans echoed Sir Alex Ferguson’s summary after the match, ‘this was Manchester United’s most ruthless performance of the season so far’ and United signalled their intentions by moving three points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Build Up
Manchester United hosted bottom of the table West Bromwich Albion so a big win was potentially on the cards. United started the game with a depleted side but were boosted by the return of Rio Ferdinand who has been struggling recently with a back problem. Goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar started the game knowing that a clean sheet would see him breaking the record for longest period without conceding a Premiership goal, a record held by Chelsea’s Petr Cech. Gary Neville enjoyed an extended run in the team following the absence of Rafeal and John O’Shea slotted in on the left side of defence in place of the injured Partrice Evra. Micheal Carrick and Ryan Giggs started in the centre of Midfield with Park-Ji-Sung occupying United’s attacking threat down the right and Cristiano Ronaldo started on the left. United were still without Wayne Rooney, so Tevez started alongside Dimitar Berbatov in attack.

Dimitar Berbatov combined well with Michael Carrick on the edge of the box and the Bulgarian’s low shot managed to squirm under ex-England keeper Scott Carson in the West Brom goal to give United an early lead.

United doubled their advantage when Scott Carson gifted Carlos Tevez possibly the easiest goal he's ever likely to score. The West Brom goalkeeper failed to claim a cross and dropped the ball in the 6 yard box in front of the Argentinian, who obliged by thrashing the ball home from close range. Carson appealed to the referee having felt he was unfairly impeded by United defender Nemanja Vidic in the build up to the goal but his appeal fell on deaf ears.

Seeing Red
West Brom were reduced to ten men when Paul Robinson’s lunge on Park Ji-Sung was judged as wreckless by the referee who saw no alternative but to send the West Brom Right-Back for an early bath.

Manchester United made it three without reply when Nemanja Vidic headed in his sixth goal of the season from a corner. The Serbian international rose the highest in the West Brom box to put the game beyond the visitors.

4-0, 5-0...

Cristiano Ronaldo added two more goals late on and showed the clinical edge that he has been missing this season. For his first the World Player of the Year managed to squeeze a low shot through Scott Carson’s legs. Ronaldo completed the rout with his second of the game with five minutes remaining. The Portuguese star looked relieved after netting his tenth Premiership goal of season.

New Face

New signing Zoran Tosic made his first Premiership appearance coming on as a late substitute for Dimitar Berbatov.

Edwin Van Der walked off the pitch clutching the match ball after completing his eleventh consecutive clean sheet in the league, setting a Premiership record.

Manchester United were clear winners in a game that rarely saw Edwin Van Der Sar’s record in doubt, the visiting sides closest chance crashed back off the post and out of danger. With the attacking presence of Berbatov, Tevez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Michael Carrick pulling West Brom apart in midfield it was always going to be a difficult encounter for the visitors. At times United looked untouchable and the intricate passing in the final third was too much for West Brom’s defence to deal with.

Manchester United host Everton on Saturday at Old Trafford and a win could take Fergie’s men five points clear at the top of the table.

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