Sunday, January 27, 2008

Off key United edge Spurs out of FA Cup...

United had to come from behind to beat a much improved Spurs side at Old Trafford today, after Robbie Keane had given the visitors a well taken lead on fifteen minutes. The deadlock was broken following an excellent arrow like pass from Michael Dawson who found Lennon on the right wing, the former Leeds winger came inside Patrice Evra who had the misfortune to slip on what was a very poor Old Trafford pitch, Lennon's cross evaded Wes Brown who should have better at the near post and Rio Ferdinand was ball-watching as Keane was allowed to ghost-in unmarked to score. It was a bad goal from United's perspective, the Reds definitely missed Vidic who was out due to picking up a virus.

United hit back on 38 minutes after excellent work by the Reds best player of the opening period, Ryan Giggs. The Welshman got himself into an advanced position deep in the Spurs penalty area, Dawson tried and failed to effectively clear a lofted high ball, the big defender's header fell kindly to Tevez as Giggs held off the challenge of Dawson for the Argentine to score in the corner with a low drive.

Despite having most of the ball in the opening period, United were being caught on the break and were lucky not to concede a second goal just before the half-time interval after Jenas burst through the United back four unmarked, luckily for the Red Devils Van der Sar made an excellent save pushing the ball to safety.

Early in the second half the visitors had more chances to have taken the lead but as the game went on United gradually started to look the stronger side. On 64 minutes Ferguson replaced Carrick when Scholes returned from his three month injury absence and the ginger prince showed few signs of rustiness with one or two assured passes to feet. Scholes put through Tevez with a trademark incisive pass which created a half decent goal scoring chance, but like many of United's attacks until that point, it came to nothing

When United's second goal finally came, it resulted from another high ball into the Spurs penalty area, but this time from the boot of Van der Sar whose long punt ended with Dawson handling the ball to deny Rooney. The referee had no choice but to send off the Spurs centre-half before Ronaldo converted the resulting spot-kick.

Berbatov nearly equalised for Spurs after out-foxing Wes Brown which ended with the England defender flicking the ball onto the base of Van der Sar's far post, it was another narrow United escape. Two minutes from time Ronaldo killed-off any hope of a Spurs comeback when his bobbling deflected low drive slipped under the grasp of Cerny in the visitor’s goal.

Anderson came on when replacing Tevez late on in the game and once again looked every inch a United player. Hargreaves had a decent second-half, barring the opening 10 minutes as went on to be arguably the Reds star performer for the remainder of the game.

It's far too early to be talking about winning another treble, but United will have to improve massively on this performance if they are to achieve that lofty goal. At least there will be no more ill-advised jaunts to far flung destinations in the name of money-grabbing before the season's end.

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