Writer: Red Boy
Date:Tuesday December 28 2010
A goal, in the last minute, deprived United of three points in this clash at St Andrews.
Sir Alex Ferguson, despite threatening to ring the changes to keep his squad fresh made just one change with Gibson coming in to replace the Asia Cup bound Park.
Team - Van der Saar, Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Gibson, Carrick, Anderson, Giggs, Berbatov, Rooney
Subs - Kuszczak, Neville, Evans, Fletcher, Hernandez, Obertan, Macheda
Birmingham started well forcing United back and our hosts had an early chance when Larsson swung over a cross but Jerome couldn`t quite reach the cross with it being a fraction too high.
Rooney, still looking for a first goal from open play since March, spotted an opportunity to break his drought but saw his twenty-five yard effort go wide. Rooney then tested Foster, after receiving a pass from Anderson, by cutting inside and trying a low shot that the keeper comfortably dealt with.
The home side were having a great deal of possession but Jerome, up front on his own, looked to be too isolated. Rooney, appearing to be on a personal shooting crusade blasted a shot miles over from thirty-odd yards.
Foster then produced a superb finger-tip save to keep out a looping Giggs cross before Birmingham wasted an opportunity to work Van der Sar. Carrick committed a foul, on Jerome, in a dangerous position but Larsson put his free kick well over the bar.
The first yellow cards of the evening were then shown, by Lee Mason, when Anderson and Gardner clashed following a tackle by Ferguson. Soon after, Bowyer joined them in the book after a reckless challenge before Giggs got the game back on track with a drive that Foster saved. Vidic wasn`t long following the other trio into the book after he hauled back Jerome when the striker escaped his clutches.
As half time drew close, Gardner drifted forward, unopposed, and fired in a shot from twenty-five yards that flew past Van der Sar`s post Birmingham continued to push forward and Gardner saw a shot that flew high and wide after good approach play involving Larsson and Bowyer.
As half time approached Sir Alex looked far from happy on the touchline.
Half Time - Birmingham 0 United 0
United got the action underway in the second half with both managers opting to keep the same starting elevens. Beausejour looked lively but Birmingham, when they got the ball into the box, had no numbers in there to trouble United.
A Giggs corner almost produced the breakthrough United craved but Rooney`s header went just over the bar. But that breakthrough was to come shortly after when Berbatov netted.
The goal was sublime with Berbatov starting the move with a flick to Gibson who found the striker with a return ball; one touch later it was under control and fired past Foster into the net.
Birmingham 0 United 1 - (Berbatov - 58 minutes)
A goal to the good, Sir Alex pushed Rooney into a more central position and the link up play between Rooney and Berbatov looked to be more productive. United were looking comfortable now and Anderson saw a shot that flew well wide of Foster`s post.
Rooney then saw a shot blocked by Taylor before Sir Alex made his first change of the night bringing on Fletcher for Anderson. Birmingham were struggling to mount an attack with Jerome still looking isolated up front.
Rooney then showed his unselfish side by setting up Gibson but his shot wasn`t one we`d like to recall with any fondness. United survived a ludicrous penalty appeal when Hleb deserved an Oscar for his fall in the area.
Vidic produced a thumping header that Foster did well to tip over the bar as United looked for that crucial second goal. United had a glorious chance to wrap the game up but Gibson, on a break, couldn`t fin the savvy to pass to Berbatov and the chance was gone.
The error was to prove costly because moments later Birmingham were level and there was an element of controversy about it. Johnson crossed from the right, Zigic reached it first and it rebounded into the path of Bowyer who slotted home, but did it strike the hand of the giant striker?
Birmingham 1 United 1 - (Bowyer - 90 minutes)
With four minutes of stoppage time added on, United were hanging on as Birmingham poured players forward in search of a winner. Thankfully United hung on to claim a point.
Vital Man United on:
Vital Man United on:
Date:Tuesday December 28 2010
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