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Manchester United 3 - Wigan Athletic 1

Old Trafford

26/12/06

Attendance: 76,018

Ronaldo Provides Ammo

Manchester United have extended their lead to four points at the top of the table following a 3-1 victory over Wigan Athletic. The Reds maintained their excellent Boxing Day record and got an unexpected gift in Chelsea's home draw against Reading.

It was not easy. Wigan obviously arrived for a 0-0 draw and they defended in numbers, deep in their own half. The visiting team had its first shot on goal after 66 minutes and that just about tells everything about the game.

United, without Louis Saha, Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo, lacked some kind of spark, creativity in the first half, especially in the second part of it. in the first 15 minutes we should have buried the Latics but Rooney just couldn't put the ball into the net despite all the chances carved out for him. After twenty minutes or so the game slowed down and United seemed to be running out of ideas of how to break them down. A mention must go to Chris Kirkland, too: he was in inspired form and he refused to surrender in the manner he had done when he failed to react at all to Arjen Robben's late strike.

It would be unfair to blame this mediocre showing on the changes Sir Alex Ferguson had made: Solskjaer and Park were both lively while O'Shea at least did not commit any mistakes. Still, our two strikers wasted openings simply due to the fact they failed to control some fantastic passes.

It would be unwise to say the introduction of Ronaldo proved to be the catalyst for the second half's bombardment. After all, our first goal came after a good Park run on the left, a reasonable low cross that just eluded the lunging Rooney and Scholes' first perfecly taken corner of the afternoon. But the Portuguese of course had to be there to head the ball home powerfully, thus lifting the pressure of the team that flew over Wigan. Minutes later, Park tackled Gary Teale in the box and the Latics' midfielder kicked the Korean's ankle in a desperate attempt to take the ball away from him. Mike Riley pointed at the spot and though Ronaldo's initial (and terrible) shot was saved by Kirkland the rebound fell invitingly to the Portuguese's feet who duly slotted it home to make it two.

At this point Wigan still did not have a single effort on goal to show. There were no signs of a resurrection of the visiting team and Solskjaer killed off any hopes of a miraculous comeback at the hour mark when he found the net from 16 yards after Rooney headed the ball into his path.

It was practically over and United eased off though their counters were always threatening. We allowed some time and space for Wigan who carved out some half-chances but did not really look likely to score. At the other end of the field, Rooney hit the underside of the bar after a finely constructed counter-attack and it became clear it's not the England striker's day. He tried very hard but nothing he touched turned into gold and Cristiano Ronaldo just stole the show from him.

Oh, and at the end Silvestre managed to give away a penalty that Baines fired into the net. The Frenchman at least ensured Vital United's prediction was correct.

Star Player

Cristiano Ronaldo - Many say he was the catalyst but he had nothing to do with the penalty and for the first goal we must give credit to Park, Scholes, and to be honest, Fitz Hall. Still, Ronaldo provided the ammo for a mis-firing United machine and he did his all to entertain the Old Trafford crowd.

Player Ratings


Van der Sar 6

No job to do.

Brown 7

Surprisingly good.

Vidic 7

He gave his opponents no chance whatsoever.

Silvestre 6

Giving away a penalty in the last minute, honestly...

Evra 7

Another very strong showing from the ex-Monaco man.

Fletcher 7

Delivered some fantastic passes before substituted. I would have taken down O'Shea instead.

O'Shea 6

Nothing special. Fletcher could have done his job in the second half.

Scholes 8

Very good again. His corners were frustrating in the first half but after the interval he delivered a perfect one.

Park 7

Caused plenty of problems for Wigan but he has to find his feet after his injury.

Rooney 7

Not bad, unlucky not to score but claimed an assist and linked well with Ronaldo in the second half.

Solskjaer 7

Lively and scored a goal, much to the delight of Stretford End.

Cristiano Ronaldo 8

Two goals, now he's in contention for the Premiership golden boot.

Richardson 6

Worked hard in the middle.

Heinze 6

No impact.




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The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday December 27 2006

Time: 3:06PM

Your Comments

Ronaldo seems to have returned from the World Cup with a point to prove!
sandgroanun
he appears to be on fire at present.
SeasideEssexXile
he completly changed the game when he came on 2nd half against wigan.
swanzboichris
and he done it against aston villa too
rooneyisgod
has a big point to prove I feel this season and he is certainly going about it in the best way..playing well and scoring great goals and lots of them....
ernshaw
i dont feel he has a point to prove
rooneyisgod
Ronaldo in contention for the golden boot? He's hit a good bit of form, not like he is going to be banging them in all season!
simmy8_2000
ronaldo has been absolutely sick, by a "country mile" ;) he has been the best player for you. good thing ferguson doesnt tak any **** and told him at the start of the season you aint going no where!
link201
vidic deserves praise too and scholes and ferdinand
rooneyisgod
 

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