Date:Thursday October 30 2008
West Ham United's feeble resistance was easily crushed by Manchester United: the Champions won 2-0 thanks to a brace from a much-improved Cristiano Ronaldo.
But the real highlight of the night was the sublime piece of skill by Berbatov which set up the second goal of the night. I can't remember a more exquisite piece of individual football at Old Trafford since Redondo humiliated Berg in April 2000.
Fergie opted to give Carlos Tevez a start and relegated Wayne Rooney to the bench. Nani also came in for Park while in midfield Anderson replaced Giggs. Rafael was also handed a start which showed that Sir Alex wasn't really worried about West Ham's attacking prowess.
It proved to be non-existent in the first half as United spent the biggest part of the 45 minutes in West Ham's half. Berbatov could have put us ahead in the second minute but his shot was deflected over the bar by Upson but as Tevez, Ronaldo and Nani were all moving and interchanging with terrific fluidity, the question was when we would score.
We managed to do it quite soon as the impressive Nani's pass found Ronaldo in the box who tucked the ball home from 12 yards. His celebration was one of absolute joy so psychoanalysing his motives can finally stop.
But the truly remarkable part came at the second goal. Anderson, whose shooting was woeful, released Berbatov down the left-hand channel. The Bulgarian chased down the ball with Collins closing in on him. He finally reached it just before the byline then, in a seemingly impossible situation, he just turned and flicked the ball over Collins' leg with an almost lazy movement of the leg then passed it in to Ronaldo who forced it home.
It effectively ended the game as a contest and the question was whether United would press on to humiliate the Hammers. We didn't and in the second half the team allowed more breathing space to the opponent, as the impressive pair of Fletcher and Anderson saved a little bit energy after a great first-half display.
Still, with Rafael and Evra operating almost as wingers United still created opportunities but Nani, Ronaldo, Tevez and Berbatov managed to spurn them all despite their excellent attacking play.
The biggest bonus of the second half was the return of Michael Carrick: the midfielder, absent since the defeat at Anfield with an ankle injury, put in a tidy display. Rooney also came on as a substitution and he ran 45 minutes' worth during 20 minutes, tackling everywhere, passing, spreading the play and shooting at sight. He's still in good form, he'll surely start at Celtic and at Arsenal - and probably against Hull this Saturday, too.
But in the end there were only two goals in it. Plenty to cheer though: Berbatov's growing influence, Tevez's tireless shift, Nani's and Ronaldo's return to form. The only worry is that once again United put in only 45 minutes of good football. Hopefully soon we'll be able to maintain the same level for 90 minutes.
Goodnight for now and remember that second goal and THAT piece of football by Berba!
Date:Thursday October 30 2008
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