Writer: Red Boy
Date:Saturday February 23 2013
United eased fifteen points clear of second placed Manchester City with a comfortable win against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.
For this Premier League fixture, in West London, Sir Alex Ferguson made several changes, amongst those returning after missing the FA Cup tie against Reading were Robin van Persie, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick. Up front Javier Hernandez was paired with van Persie with Wayne Rooney on the bench having been troubled by a sinus problem all week.
At a packed Loftus Road it was United who got off to the better start and Nani could have given the table-toppers a great start to the game but his header was off target from a free-kick. United continued to push QPR back and when Ashley Young cut in from the left delivering a decent cross, the QPR keeper, Cesar, produced a tremendous save to deny Javier Hernandez.
But United did take the lead just past the midway point in the half when Rafael scored a wonderful goal. Latching onto the ball, after Cesar had saved from Van Persie, the Brazilian drove the ball past Cesar and into the net, leaving Cesar helpless.
Unfortunately, Van Persie appeared to pick up an injury in the build-up to the goal and the Dutchman was to, later, limp off to be replaced by Danny Welbeck.
Rafael was becoming a prominent factor in the game, reacting well to hack a Samba effort off the line before producing a great long diagonal ball to set up Van Persie but his volley was pushed away by Cesar.
As half time approached, Nemanja Vidic had the chance to double the lead but his header went the wrong side of the post.
Half Time - QPR 0 United 1
Harry Redknapp made a change at half time, introducing Jermain Jenas in place of Granero. United looked comfortable but chances were not as forthcoming as in the first half. Both managers shuffled their packs with Redknapp bringing on Loic Remy in place of Zamora and Sir Alex introducing Wayne Rooney in place of Hernandez.
Remy had a chance, cutting in from the flank and forcing David De Gea into a save. From the resulting corner, Samba couldn`t direct his header enough to trouble De Gea. Redknapp made a third change, bringing on Junior Hoilett in place of Jamie Mackie.
United, with Patrice Evra down the left, found Rooney but his effort was blocked by Clint Hill as the clock began to run down.
Any thoughts of a nervous last ten minutes were vanquished though when Ryan Giggs doubled United`s lead. The goal coming after Welbeck won possession, fed Nani who slide the ball behind the defence for Giggs to side-foot past Cesar.
Giggs could have made it 3-0 shortly after but his chip bounced off the bar, the points belonged to United.
Date:Saturday February 23 2013
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Cavani In - Van Persie Out? (Sunday March 9 2014)
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Record Breaker Rooney (Saturday March 8 2014)
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