Writer: Red Boy
Date:Saturday December 3 2011
United eased to a narrow win at Villa Park to keep the pressure up on Manchester City at the top of the table.
However there will be a nervous wait to see just how bad the injury Javier Hernandez sustained is.
Team News - Looking to close the gap on Manchester City, who had earlier walloped Norwich City 5-1, Sir Alex Ferguson chose to play Anders Lindegaard in goal. The back-four had a strong look to it with Vidic and Ferdinand in the centre and Evra and Smalling out wide, whilst up front Rooney and Hernandez were looking to Young and Nani to supply the crosses. In midfield Sir Alex opted for Carrick and Jones.
United - Lindegaard, Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand, Smalling, Carrick, Nani, Young, Rooney, Hernandez
Subs - De Gea, Evans, Giggs, Park, Fletcher, Valencia, Welbeck
First Half - Villa got the game started, after a minutes` tribute to Gary Speed had been adhered to. After a cagey start to things United were dealt a blow when Javier Hernandez was forced off on a stretcher with what looked like an ankle injury. The Mexican, under no challenge appeared to twist it in the Villa Park turf. Antonio Valencia was the player chosen to replace him.
Although it had been a slow first quarter of an hour United had shaded possession but had yet to force Shay Given into making a save. Thankfully, that was soon to change when Phil Jones opened the scoring for United in the twentieth minute.
The goal, Jones` first for United came after Villa failed to clear a corner, the ball was worked out wide to Nani and his cross was excellently volleyed home by Jones past Given and in to the roof of the net.
Villa 0 United 1 (Jones - 20 minutes)
United carved out another chance but Given was up to the task of saving Nani`s header. Valencia was the next to send Given into panic mode with a scintillating strike from thirty yards out that flew just over the crossbar.
Villa were also hit by a first half injury when Given looked to have pulled a muscle and Brad Guzan had to replace him.
Courtesy of the injuries to Hernandez and Given, eight minutes of first half stoppage time was announced.
Half Time - Villa 0 United 1
Second Half - Rooney produced the first bit of magic in the half, slipping the ball between Bannan`s legs before unleashing a shot from forty yards, but the shot didn`t have the magic that the nutmeg did and didn`t trouble Guzan.
The second half, chance wise, was mirroring the first half. Rooney saw Warnock block his way and Jones, picking up the loose ball, was crowded out.
Villa, who had looked poor so far, forced Lindegaard into his first save of the night near the hour mark when the Danish keeper had to get down low to save an effort from Agbonlahor.
The nights injury woes continued when Jermaine Jenas was also carried off on a stretcher, once again it looked as if the pitch had caused the injury rather than a challenge.
With sixty-four minutes gone, Sir Alex had a reshuffle. Ferdinand was withdrawn, Jones dropped into the back four and Giggs came on to fill the gap in midfield.
The home side, searching for the equaliser, created a chance. Agbonlahor saw his shot deflected for a corner and when the cross came in Dunne flicked it on only for Heskey to blast it over.
After being so ineffective for large parts of the game, Villa were now starting to play and Lindegaard did well to tip a Collins effort, from a Dunne cross, over the bar.
Sir Alex made a final change with twelve minutes to go bringing on Welbeck for Young.
United weathered Villa`s brief moments of pressure and set about doubling their lead. Rooney played a great one-two with Carrick but his volley was too high and when Welbeck did get the ball in the net he`d made his run too early and was given offside.
But the three points were ours, although the goal difference should have been improved.
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Date:Saturday December 3 2011
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