Cristiano Ronaldo News

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Report: Wigan 1 United 3

United came from behind to cement their position at the top of the Premiership courtesy of second-half goals by Nemanja Vidic, Louis Saha and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the JJB Stadium.

Leighton Baines' superb free-kick had given Wigan a 4th-minute lead, which the Latics deservedly held until the interval. But United emerged as a different team in the second half and managed to deservedly take all three points.

The victory was achieved without Cristiano Ronaldo, Darren Fletcher and Gary Neville, who were all unfit after their exertions during the international break.

That meant United began with a five-man midfield, with Wayne Rooney dropping back to the left side of midfield and Saha ploughing a lone furrow upfront.

Almost immediately United were behind. Patrice Evra was penalised for handball 25 yards from goal, and he watched helplessly as England U21 left-back Baines smashed a brilliant strike inside Edwin van der Sar's post.

Buoyed by their lead, the hosts continued to press doggedly for the opening 10 minutes as United struggled for cohesion and offered little as an attacking threat.

Gradually the Reds grew in stature, however, and almost nicked an equaliser as Rooney, who turned in a superb performance, hit the crossbar with a scorching drive.

Sadly that was United's only real moment of promise in a lacklustre first 45. Stand-in skipper Rio Ferdinand and John O'Shea were both harshly booked by referee Steve Bennett to add to United's frustration.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side emerged for the second half boosted by the presence of Giggs, who replaced Wes Brown as O'Shea moved to right-back. The move gave United a far greater attacking impetus, and they were utterly dominant in their pursuit of an equaliser.

Solskjaer became the focal point of countless attacks down the right as he, Giggs and Saha were all thwarted inside the opening five minutes of the second period.

Saha spurned the clearest opportunity of the game on 56 minutes, dragging his right-footed effort wide despite being afforded oodles of space by Arjan de Zeeuw's slip.

Six minutes later that miss was forgotten as United finally snatched the equaliser their dominance had threatened.

Vidic was the man who hauled the Reds back into the game, springing brilliantly to head home Giggs' right-wing corner.

It was a first goal in the Serbian's 18th start for United, and three minutes later things got even better for Sir Alex's side.

Evra seized on a poor clearance and released Rooney down the left wing. The England striker weighed up his option before whipping in a far post cross.

While the lurking Solskjaer looked the likely beneficiary of Rooney's work, Saha's athleticism saw him astonishingly leap to control the ball before lashing in off the post.

Wigan were deflated by United's unrelenting attacks, and the Reds continued to look the more likely to score again.

Rooney saw his impudent chip go just over the bar, while Giggs was denied a clear penalty, Steve Bennett waving play on only for Kirkland to save Saha's powerful low shot.

Moments later Rooney burst through, but his pull-back for Solskjaer was fractionally behind the Norwegian, who scuffed his effort against Emmerson Boyce.

A fifth strike of the season did come for Solskjaer, however, in the third minute of injury time and again Rooney was heavily involved.

His flicked backheel fell to the veteran striker on the edge of the box and, after tangling with Lee McCulloch, he drove an unstoppable low shot through Fitz Hall's legs and inside Kirkland's left-hand post.

It was nothing more than the Reds' overpowering second-half display had deserved.

Wigan Athletic: Kirkland, Boyce, Hall, De Zeeuw, Scharner, Baines, Teale (Valencia, 68), Kilbane (Todorov, 68), Landzaat, Camara (McCulloch, 59), Heskey.
Subs not used: Pollitt, Jackson

Goalscorer: Baines (4)

United: Van der Sar, Brown (Giggs, 46), Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, O'Shea, Carrick, Scholes, Solskjaer, Rooney, Saha.
Subs not used: Kuszczak, Richardson, D Jones, Smith.

Goalscorers: Vidic (62), Saha (66), Solskjaer (92)



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