Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Villa's schoolboy defending gifts United points...

United took on Aston Villa on Tuesday on what was a busy night of Premier League action. United ran out deserved 3-1 winners, thanks to a brace from Rooney and a brilliant effort from the player of the season, Nemanja Vidic. Darren Bent ensured his new club made a real game of it when scoring what turned out to be a consolation goal, at that point in the contest it was 2-0. However, it was a mistaken riddled performance by Gerrard Houllier's team, especially where the Villa defence was concerned.

The warning signs were there from the first kick when Berbatov nearly broke through but the Bulgarian was ruled offside; it didn't matter because within that opening minute Rooney had scored the opening goal following a route-one long punt up field by Van der Sar.

The United strikers were taking full advantage of an Aston Villa defence who were caught cold when attempting to hold a high-line and it was this which led directly to Rooney scoring what was spectacular opening goal. Van der Sar's well directed ball beat the whole of the Villa defence as Rooney brushed off the challenge of Richard Dunne, before unleashing a half-volley beyond the grasp of Brad Friedel from fully 20 yards out.

United's second goal came about just before half-time, when Nani out-foxed his marker on the right flank and then supplied a superb low curling cross which evaded the whole Villa defence and Friedel; Rooney wasn't going to miss from the edge of the six-yard box and he did not disappoint. Rooney has been under pressure to score following the emergence of Javier Hernandez this season and so the two goals he scored against Villa will do his confidence the world of good.

While Rooney made a very welcome return to scoring, his strike partner Berbatov was having one of those nights when nothing would go right in front of goal. Berbatov had a game to forget having missed a catalogue of decent goal scoring opportunities.

United have made something of a habit of heavily watering the Old Trafford playing surface ahead of kick-off; it isn't uncommon for the league leaders to water just the half the opposition is likely to be defending, which is usually the East Stand half of the Old Trafford pitch as was the case in the first-half last night. Against Villa, it was noticeable that several players, but especially the visitors, were having difficulty on what looked like a very slippery surface. Excuses aside - from a Villa perspective - United had the better of it in general where the chances were concerned.

United played well on the whole and losing Fletcher due to a head wound after just 34 minutes didn't affect the flow of what was a very open game, one in which both teams contributed to the goal-mouth action.

Ashley Young gave United a scare when he hit the woodwork with Edwin van der Sar beaten all ends up. Darren Bent pulled a goal back with just over half an hour to play, but Vidic ensured United maintained their title challenge when he sealed the points with a goal that any striker would have been proud of.

The Serbian defender won a header at the far post from deep within the Villa box, with a well directed ball to Rooney who in turned cushioned it back invitingly into the path of the United captain, who then picked his spot with a powerful low curling right footed drive which gave Friedel no chance. It was game over from that point.

Man of the match: Vidic.

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