Writer: Red Boy
Date:Saturday September 24 2011
United lost their 100% record but kept their unbeaten run in a thrilling 1-1 draw at the Britannia Stadium.
Team News - United were without Rooney who picked up a slight hamstring strain, Berbatov took his place. In the defence, Evans picked up an injury during the warm up and was replaced by Ferdinand. Hernandez, who picked up a knock courtesy of a bad tackle from Ashley Cole last weekend, had recovered sufficiently to play.
United - De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Ferdinand, Evra, Fletcher, Anderson, Nani, Young, Berbatov, Hernandez
Subs - Lindegaard, Fabio, Park, Giggs, Owen, Welbeck, Macheda
First Half - As expected Stoke were relying on the aerial assault and an early throw from Delap saw De Gea flap but Etherington couldn`t capitalize.
United thought they should have had an early penalty after Hernandez appeared to be fouled by Woodgate but Peter Walton waved play on. Hernandez, in the wars again, had to receive some treatment.
Whelan received a yellow card seven minutes into the action for a foul on Evra as the action started to hot up.
Hernandez, still struggling after that early hefty challenge was forced to limp off with Michael Owen coming on to replace him, the second game in succession Hernandez had failed to finish courtesy of crude challenges.
Stoke, from a corner, saw a Pennant shot blocked. Stoke forced another long throw, this time De Gea didn`t come for it and it was turned behind for a corner.
As the action settled, United forced their first corner of the game with Berbatov heading it wide. With twenty-seven minutes on the clock, United took the lead through Nani.
And what a goal it was. United exchanged a plethora of passes before Fletcher and Nani played a one-two which opened up the defence for Nani to slide the ball home.
Stoke 0 United 1 (Nani -27 minutes)
Stoke were almost back on level terms instantly but for a great save from De Gea. The Spaniard pulling off a fine save to tip a shot from Wilkinson onto the bar.
Nani then wasted a chance to double the United lead when he rushed a shot and it went wide. Meanwhile Delap, as the action remained being played at a frantic place, hit a long range effort wide.
Stoke were still pushing United all the way and De Gea was forced to pull off another great save when Waters thought he`d scored with a cross shot. As halftime approached Shawcross did well to clear as Owen threatened after a ball in from Nani.
Jones, marauding forward, forced a corner and all-in-all it had been a good half.
Half Time - Stoke 0 United 1
Second Half - Having limped off for the second game on the trot, the official reason for Hernandez going off was given as being a dead leg.
Stoke, having given as good as they`d got in the first half drew level early in the second half through Peter Crouch. Having won a corner Crouch rose to firmly head home Etherington`s cross.
Stoke 1 United 1 (Crouch - 52minutes)
Minutes later Crouch had a glorious chance to put Stoke in the lead. Pennant`s pass found him at the far post but after controlling the ball he shot straight at De Gea who deflected the ball over the bar.
The pressure was relieved, slightly, when Anderson pushed forward and forced Begovic into a save with a low shot.
Berbatov had a penalty appeal turned down after Wodgate had pulled his shirt whilst Stoke, awarded a free kick, saw Wilson`s majestic strike beaten away by De Gea.
United then had a third penalty appeal turned down when Evra`s ball in was clearly handled by Shawcross but offside was given against Owen who was clearly not interfering with play.
Sir Alex made two changes with Giggs and Welbeck coming on for Berbatov and Young. Giggs made an almost immediate impact with his cross being scrambled away as Owen looked to get on the end of it.
As time slipped away Crouch headed wide at the far post before holding off the challenge of Valencia to shoot wide on a separate occasion but as we slipped into the last moments it was Giggs who wasted the final chance hitting a volley wide from a Nani pass.
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Date:Saturday September 24 2011
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