Writer: Red Boy
Date:Tuesday January 4 2011
United extended their unbeaten start to the season with a comfortable win over Stoke City.
Sir Alex Ferguson rang the changes for the visit of Stoke after a lackluster performance at the Hawthorns last time out. Van der Sar and Ferguson were rested whilst Rooney wasn`t given the chance to cause any more damage to his ankle. Neville, after a below par performance was also sacrificed. Obertan who also started against West Brom was also dropped. Coming in were Kuszczak, Smalling, Rafael and Hernandez whilst Nani also came back after injury and Giggs and Gibson were also awarded starts, six changes in all.
Team - Kuszczak, Evra, Smalling, Vidic, Rafael, Giggs, Nani, Fletcher, Gibson, Berbatov, Hernandez
Subs - Amos, Fabio, Evans, Anderson, Carrick, Owen, Obertan
United were immediately on the front foot dominating possession and an early effort from Berbatov was blocked. Stoke, in a rare excursion forward in the early stages, forced a corner through Wilkinson but Vidic and Smalling combined to clear the danger.
United claimed a penalty when a Giggs cross was handled by Shawcross but Mark Clattenburg waved play on. Seconds later Berbatov should have opened the scoring sending Giggs deflected shot wide from seven yards out.
With twenty-seven minutes on the clock United got that crucial breakthrough, with a goal that included a sublime piece of skill. Nani delivered a great cross and Hernandez produced a delightful touch to send the ball past Begovic into the net.
United 1 Stoke 0 (Hernandez - 27 minutes)
United were now totally dominant and could have scored a second when Giggs and Nani combined to set up Hernandez but Huth remained alive to the threat and deflected the shot behind although Mark Calttenburg awarded Stoke a goal kick.
Half Time - United 1 Stoke 0
Stoke started the second half well and could have snatched an equalizer early on when Tuncay just failed to get his header, from a Huth cross, on target. The visitors got their just rewards for their spirited start to the second half when they equalized through Dean Whitehead, the goal coming after Whitehead rose, unchallenged, to head home a Tuncay cross.
United 1 Stoke 1 (Whitehead - 50 minutes)
Once again Mark Clattenburg denied United a penalty when Huth appeared to haul down Hernandez. But United were to go back in front courtesy of Nani. The Portuguese player curling a great strike home form twenty yards out.
United 2 Stoke 1 (Nani - 62 minutes)
The goal settled the Old Trafford crowd and United began to dominate possession again. United could have scored a third but Hernandez fired over when provided with a great cross for Rafael.
With twelve minutes of normal time remaining, Sir Alex made a double substitution bringing on Carrick and Owen for Gibson and Hernandez. It was to be Owen`s first action since October 2nd.
As full time approached United were looking comfortable and the three points were United`s
Full Time - United 2 Stoke 1
Date:Tuesday January 4 2011
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