Cristiano Ronaldo News

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Report: United 3 Everton 0

29/11/2006 21:55, Report by Ben Hibbs

This was by no means United’s classiest performance this season, but three goals and three points keeps the Reds in front of Chelsea at the top of the Premiership.

The bonus for Sir Alex was that he gave valuable rest to regulars such as Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Louis Saha and Nemanja Vidic and still secured victory. The Reds boss made five changes to the team that drew 1-1 with Chelsea three days previously – Patrice Evra, Darren Fletcher, Mikael Silvestre, Kieran Richardson, John O’Shea all stepping in.

The changes to United’s side meant an as yet untried strike partnership of Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, as usual given a ‘warm’ welcome from the Everton fans who used to idolise him.

For the Toffees - without star striker Andy Johnson due to a hamstring injury - David Moyes had to rely on James Beattie and James McFadden to try and find the goals to end a run of five away games without a win. In truth, though, missing United loanee Tim Howard and injured midfielder Tim Cahill as well, they would undoubtedly have settled for the point they have earned in their last two league visits to Old Trafford.

Everton were, as expected, feisty and physical to start with, and were first to have a shot on target. Leon Osman ran some 30 yards unchallenged and tested Edwin van der Sar with a rising 25-yard shot. The Toffeemen did well in the opening 15 minutes not to allow the Reds to dictate the pace of the game.

United tentatively threatened on the break, but were unable to breach the visitors’ defence. Everton proved dangerous in attack, James McFadden dragging a shot wide from inside the area after 17 minutes where a more clinical finisher probably would have punished the Reds. The travelling support tucked away in the south-east corner of the stand sensed an opportunity and roared their team on.

But United slowly began to come out of their shell. A sense of anticipation arose whener Ronaldo received the ball, while Richardson clipped the bar with a free-kick from the right on 23 minutes and moments later Rooney headed narrowly wide from Silvestre’s cross.

United's gradual improvement paid off with six minutes of the half remaining. Michael Carrick, still searching for his first goal for the Reds, had his powerful shot blocked by Nuno Valente on the edge of the area. Fortunately the ball ricocheted out to Ronaldo, who struck a low shot into the bottom right corner of Richard Wright's goal. It was a goal that would prove vital. It had a settling influence on United and, because Everton’s lack of firepower up front, left the opposition with a mountain to climb.

The second half started much the same as the first, a battle for possession in the middle of the park but with few chances for either side. Everton’s fans made clear their passionate dislike of their former starlet, Rooney. At one point, deep in United’s half and receiving a barrage of abuse, Rooney kissed the United badge on his shirt.

But he soon made the most telling gesture possible. Receiving a pass from O'Shea just after the hour mark, he turned away from Mikel Arteta whilst also drawing Joseph Yobo out of his right-back position, creating space for Evra to run into. And when the French left-back received the 21-year-old striker's pass, he took an aggressively direct line towards goal and fired a fierce shot through Wright’s legs to make it 2-0.

The points were as good as wrapped up. But the Reds weren’t finished there. As the clock approached 90 minutes and the life appeared drained out of Everton’s challenge, United grabbed a late third. A Rooney shot was blocked by Yobo, but the ball bobbled out to Evra on the left. His cross found O’Shea in space inside the box and with impressive nimbleness O’Shea steered the ball past Wright into the top corner with the outside of his right boot.

This game didn't come with the fluid brand of football United fans have been used to in recent weeks, but this was an important three points. The victory also sees the Reds' unbeaten run stretch to ten league games, having taken 26 points from a possible 30.

With Chelsea not in action this weekend, the Reds could potentially go nine points clear of the Blues with victory over Middlesbrough on Saturday and Manchester City seven days later. Jose Mourinho's men are, after tonight’s win over Bolton, not in action until the Sunday after City visit Old Trafford in ten days’ time.

Team Line-ups

United: Van der Sar, G.Neville (c), Ferdinand, Silvestre, Evra, Fletcher, Carrick (Brown, 72), O'Shea, Richardson, Ronaldo (Heinze, 68), Rooney.
Subs not used: Kuszczak, Scholes, Saha.

Everton: Wright, Yobo, Lescott, Stubbs, Valente, Arteta, P.Neville (c), Carsley, Osman (Vaughan, 76), McFadden, Beattie.
Subs not used: Ruddy (GK), Weir, Van der Meyde, Anichebe.

Attendance: 75,723 Posted by Picasa


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