Date:Wednesday April 18 2007
Manchester United beat Sheffield United 2-0 at Old Trafford to go six points clear at the top.
Neil Warnock had confirmed before the game that he would not risk any of his players who carry even the slightest knock. That was a signal: the Blades won't mind too much losing here as their minds are set on the games against Charlton, Watford and Wigan.
After only four minutes, it looked like it would be a stroll in the park for the Reds. We were 1-0 ahead then, thanks to a magnificent goal by Michael Carrick and nobody could envisage anything other than victory. Wayne Rooney missed a sitter two minutes later but that was not too worrying. Sheffield looked unable to really threaten us so it could have been much, much easier.
At the end, we had to be happy with a 2-0 win as the Blades gave us a real fright. Of course, a United game is not genuinely United unless there is an injury and this time Patrice Evra was the recipient of a terrible challenge by Kazim-Richards and had to be hauled off to give way to Richardson. By not booking the Sheffield player, Rob Styles launched an embarassing night for himself.
The ref failed to punish Kilgallon with a yellow card when he brought down Smith with vicious challenge but punished the latter at once when his tackle on Kozluk was extremely late... Other events on the pitch hardly mattered as Sheffield did not get even close to an equaliser. Luton Shelton was impressive though I admit I had never heard of him before but he was desperately alone there. Our lads missed some good chances but they looked like men who're waiting for the whistle.
At the start of the second half, Rooney scored from a volley and it was game over, really. Our players' loss of concentration was almost frightening and when Heinze fouled the explosive Shelton in the box, it should have been a red card and a penalty. Styles ignored it, just as he ignored another strong penalty claim in the first half when Rooney had been brought down... the ref was the weakest link.
Sheffield rattled the crossbar with a late effort but it mattered little as we took all three points on a night of anti-climax.
At least Ryan Giggs celebrated his 500th league game in style, by claiming Sky's man of the match award (and mine, too, but that matters little, I believe). Wayne Rooney now scored 8 goals in his last 9 games, Ronaldo claimed a wonderful assist again and Carrick gave another assured display. And that's it.
Oh, before I forget: it was bizarre to see Fletcher and Richardson as full-backs. Hopefully I won't have to see it again...
Date:Wednesday April 18 2007
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