Nine Minutes That Destroyed Villa
The mighty Red Devils cruised past Aston Villa despite conceding a goal for the first time since the industrial revolution. Or something like that.
That's the United we all love to see. I read an article in the summer that stated that last we were back to our old ways with destroying and demoralising teams by scoring several goals in a short space of time. This killer instinct was absent this season but our men proved that they have not forgotten the art of steamrollering (if there is an art like that).
Villa started lively and converted their first meaningful chance as Gabriel Agbonlahor headed in Ashley Young's pinpoint cross. Edwin's view was blocked therefore it was actually offside but did not matter much in the end, fortunately.
It seemed that Villa felt they had done their job: they sat back and soaked up the pressure that United started to apply. Tevez missed a golden chance after mesmerising passing game carved our opponents open but ten minutes later, nine minutes before the break, Rooney did not miss. He couldn't have done it, even my grandma would have scored: Nani's low cross found him after Zat Knight, terrified of an own goal and waiting for his keeper, decided not to intervene and the striker tapped in from close range.
Very soon it was two, as Tevez broke free on the left, sliced a pass into the totally unmarked Rooney's path who coolly slotted home the ball. And the miserable half for Villa was completed when the defenders failed to clear a corner and though Rio Ferdinand totally mis-hit it, Gardner couldn't clear off the line and fired the ball into his own net.
Shock reigned at Villa Park, apart from the away end where the United fans were dancing in jubilation. And they had every reason to be optimist as Martin O'Neill's men looked tired and dejected after the break. United were looking to tie up the loose ends but misplaced passes and some bad finishing let them down.
However, it was apparent, as in the first half, that the Tevez-Rooney partnership is actually flourising though they had been deemed to be too similar to work. Today's emphatic display from the duo must have convinced the majority of the doubters as the two little lad regularly confused defenders by their passing and movement.
It was game over when Nigel Reo-Coker was dismissed for a second booking after a clumsy and dangerous challenge on Anderson. United threatened to thrash Villa: Tevez missed another golden chance then Rooney almost broke the crossbar with a 14-yard-shot. It was eventually Giggs who added the fourth but important things happened before that.
Carlos Tevez was released inside the box and as he rounded Scott Carson, the keeper tripped him. It was a definite penalty but the red card that Rob Styles immediately produced was probably a little harsh. Rooney stepped up to seal his hat-trick but failed as his shot lacked power and was saved quite comfortably by substitute keeper Stewart Taylor.
It mattered little though I felt for Rooney but 15 minutes from time Giggs capped a good afternoon's work from the Reds: he found some space in the box and fired the ball towards the far corner. It took a slight deflection of Martin Laursen and flew into the net, with Taylor flailing hopelessly to reach it.
Martin O'Neill was visibly disappointed with Rob Styles' performance but the truth is that Nigel Reo-Coker's red card was definitely warranted - and that the game had long been over by that time... And it was achieved without Cristiano Ronaldo who played only ten minutes but could have scored.