23 April 2013

Silencing the Noisy Neighbors: Manchester United 3 Aston Villa 0

Goal-scoring drought? Robin van Persie rolls on the goals and scores a hat-trick in the first-half
Image retrieved from the official Barclays Premier League Twitter Page

Aston Villa
 De Gea
 Evra (Y 27')
     (SUB Welbeck 72')
 Van Persie (GOAL! 2', 13', 33')

 Unused subs: 
     (SUB Clark 80')
     (SUB El-Ahmadi 46')

 Unused subs: 

MANCHESTER IS RED - that is the message Manchester United have sent towards their neighbors Manchester City, with the Reds winning their 20th league title by defeating Aston Villa 3-0.

Manchester United made a high-octane start in the first-half, with Robin van Persie finishing off a pass from Wayne Rooney at the left in under 82 seconds. From then on, it was the Dutchman's show. A minute later he would've made it 20 but his shot just grazes over the bar.

The Old Trafford faithful held their breath for quite a while when Villa caught the home side on the break, with Andreas Weimann and Christian Benteke creating Villa's only clear-cut chance of the half.

Rooney's long-range pass to Robin van Persie, reminiscent of Ryan Giggs' beautiful long ball to the Dutchman during their FA Cup match against West Ham earlier in the season, set the stage of goal number two. The Netherlands international, on the half-volley from the edge of the box, rockets home the second goal.

Van Persie slots home a long-range goal from the edge of the box
Image retrieved from the official Barclays Premier League Twitter page

Some minutes later, Ryan Giggs manifest a moment of selflessness, opting to make a short pass to Robin van Persie inside the box, with the Dutchman finishing off the first half with a hat-trick.

The home side loosened their step on the gas come the second half, with Aston Villa having a bit more of the ball than earlier in the game. Paul Lambert's men had a few half-chances of their own, but nothing as precise as they would've liked.

The Reds, on their part, had a few chances of their own, and Shinji Kagawa almost made it 4-0 with good passing play made from the front line inside the box. The Japanese international adjusts the ball on his feet to lose goalkeeper Brad Guzan but just when everything was poised for goal, Kagawa kicks the ball high.

In the end, United simply held on the ball, ran down the time, and after the full time, the Reds are crowned champions.

Agony from the last day of last season now replaced by cheers of joy and celebration, as the Reds soared to their 20th league title.

14 April 2013

Muscling Their Way In: Stoke 0 Manchester United 2

Manchester United's Robin van Persie ends his goal drought, scoring his 20th of the season

     (SUB Jerome 71' (Y 85'))
     (SUB Crouch 84')
     (SUB Owen 77')

 Unused subs: 
 De Gea
 Valencia (Y 63')
 Carrick (GOAL! 3')
 Van Persie (GOAL! 66' PG)
     (SUB Welbeck 77')

 Unused subs: 

Manchester United endured a physical and robust Stoke offensive at the Britannia Stadium, with Michael Carrick and Robin van Persie etching their names in the scoresheet.

The Reds had two feet on the gas pedal at the very start of the first half, with Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez providing the goal threat early on. And United cashed in on their first corner of the game. Van Persie's corner kick landed the ball square in the Stoke box, causing a scramble for the ball. Michael Carrick ultimately got his foot on it, propelling the Reds to the lead.

Michael Carrick taps in United's first goal of the game
Image retrieved from the Daily Mail UK

The league leaders would somehow slow the game down a bit but still got a few shots on goal, with the prolific Van Persie getting close a couple of times. Stoke, for their part, haven't done anything to constitute a solid threat. They got closest to a goal in a free kick when Robert Huth's header grazes the ball just wide.

But it was United who certainly had the ball more, with Kagawa doing really well to keep the ball in Reds' possession. Rooney, deployed in central midfield, is doing decently as well to steer the play United's way.

Chicharito's challenge opens up Wilkinson's left brow
Image retrieved from the Daily Mail UK

The Potters upped the ante in the second half, with the likes of Charlie Adam, Kenwyne Jones and Jonathan Walters all creating chances. Walters came close  to equalizing for the home side when he received the ball inside the box and tried to shoot the ball home but couldn't direct it.

The two sides traded chances but none could get a clear-cut chance at goal until the 66th minute. Robin van Persie receives the ball from the left but defender Wilkinson made a late challenge on the Dutchman. Referee Jon Moss gave the penalty and the Dutchman finally broke his goal drought from the spot, scoring his 20th league goal of the season. Stoke actually latched in a quick response on the break when Ryan Shotton made a blistering shot, but David de Gea coolly saves the ball.

Robin van Persie hugs boss Sir Alex as both celebrate the Dutchman's goal
Image retrieved from the Daily Mail UK

Stoke went on full ambition, with Glenn Whelan and Ryan Shotton now making long 30-yarders but none are making it towards the target. Ferguson's men run down the clock and seal in the win soon after.

United's win hands Sir Alex Ferguson his 900th win as a manager and propels the team back to 15-points clear at the top the table. The Red Devils are now just seven points away from clinching their 20th top-flight title.

09 April 2013

Prolonging the Wait: Manchester United 1 Manchester City 2

City's Sergio Aguero celebrates the winning goal at Old Trafford

 De Gea
 Rafael (Y 90+2')
     (SUB Kagawa 90+1')
 Rooney (Y 32')
     (SUB Hernandez 85') 
     (SUB Valencia 82' (Y 90+3')) 
 Van Persie

 Unused subs: 
 Zabaleta (Y 90+1')
 Kompany (Y 42') (OG 58')
 Milner (GOAL! 50')
     (SUB Aguero 71' (GOAL! 78'))
 Barry (Y 89')
 Silva (Y 29')
     (SUB Lescott 88')
 Yaya Toure
 Tevez (Y 84')
     (SUB Garcia 90+2')

 Unused subs: 
 Kolo Toure

Manchester United, who were poised to win the title should they have won this game and their next, would have to wait a little longer to get their hands on the Premier League trophy as they didn't exhibit the performance champions are supposed to do and slumped with a 2-1 loss against fierce rivals Manchester City at the Theatre of Dreams.

The two rivals started off the match with gusto as the game was played openly, with both sides having half-chances. Welbeck got an early chance at the 2nd minute, which was comfortably saved by City keeper Joe Hart. Dutchman Robin van Persie also had a couple of half-chances but the Blues defense was tight and rigid. For their part, City conjured efforts on goal of their own, with Spaniard David Silva pulling the strings, servicing the likes of James Milner and Carlos Tevez.

But soon the half turned into a war of attrition as both sides made intricate, gritty passes from short-quarters that brought frustration to all players, with fouls flying left and right. The frustration notched up a couple of degrees in a matter of seconds when the half-time whistle was blown just as City was able to send the ball into United's penalty area. The half-time break was barely able to contain Mancini's men from boiling over.

City's James Milner (first from left) celebrates with Nasri for his opening goal
Image retrieved from The Daily Mail UK

The tension-filled action continued on in the second half, with chances still few and far between for both sides, until a crucial mistake from no less than veteran United man Ryan Giggs. The evergreen Giggs made the mistake of back-passing the ball with his heels, with Barry in close pursuit behind him. This allowed Barry to lob the ball to Milner who rocket the ball home.

But the lead was short-lived. Six minutes later, Yaya Toure clattered Rafael at the right wing, putting the ball out of play for a corner kick. The kick lobs the ball towards Phil Jones, who heads the ball towards the back of Kompany and through the deflection, scores the equalizer.

City looked demoralized but things turned around with a snap at the arrival of Sergio Aguero, who ran past three defenders to slot the ball in to the back of the net just seven minutes after he came in.

From then on, it was a matter of running the clock, with City happy to defend in their half. United poured on the attacks but chances never came. Crosses were poor from Young and Giggs. Robin van Persie has lost his touch. And when United didn't kick the ball out for a pleading David Silva, tensions rose to the breaking point, with both sides' players trading verbal barbs. It took a while for referee Mike Dean to take control but when the coast cleared, it was all too late.

Sir Alex Ferguson's 13th title is still secure, with the Reds 12 points clear. But now they have to wait a little longer to hold the coveted trophy, as Roberto Mancini won a consolation that is better than the title itself in some regard - the thought that he stopped the veteran Scotsman from his tracks is good enough for this season.
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