Saturday, 18 October 2008

Manchester United 4-0 West Bromwich Albion

A second half masterclass from Wayne Rooney inspired Manchester United to a flattering 4-0 scoreline over Tony Mowbray's West Brom at Old Trafford.

The result catapults United into the top 4 for the first time this season and underlines the growth in confidence and influence embodied by Rooney - scorer of one and maker of two others, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Dimitar Berbatov struggled to have any say on proceedings.

A first half with plenty of hustle but no real quality - aside from Rooney - saw United at times struggle against the sheer numbers the Baggies packed into midfield. In the stand out moment, Rooney had a goal disallowed rather harshly for a push, then a minute later almost heading in a Giggs cross.

Rafael, making his first Premiership start, played well enough but in Chris Brunt he had a lively foe - Patrice Evra's injury and subsequent replacement by John O'Shea just before the break more or less ended any full back threat. This just spurred Rooney into action 10 minutes after the break, latching onto a Ronaldo pass, superbly cutting across defender Donk, and firing in a low shot at the near post.

With 20 minutes to go Rooney returned the favour, playing a magnificent pass to Ronaldo who slotted home coolly. A couple of minutes later and the frustrated Berbatov pounced to slot home a Nani corner that was poorly defended. It was his first league goal for United, and at the Stretford End to boot, but his lack of celebration would have done nothing to endear himself to United fans who still wait to be convinced that the lanky Bulgarian deserves to start in front of fan favourite Carlos Tevez.

And, with a couple of minutes left on the clock, Nani himself became the final beneficiary of Rooney's superb work, tapping in the mercurial Englishman's cross goal pass.

Ratings: van der Sar 7, Rafael 7 (Neville 6) , Ferdinand 7, Vidic 7, Evra (O'Shea 6), Ronaldo 7, Fletcher 6, Giggs 7, Park 6 (Nani 7), *Rooney 9, Berbatov 6.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Blackburn Rovers 0 - 2 Manchester United

Goals from Wes Brown and Wayne Rooney secured three points for United at Ewood Park.

In all fairness it could have been more as Darren Fletcher and then Ryan Giggs were provided by great passes for Berbatov and were agonisingly close, even before the first goal. It was the Giggs shot that led to the first goal, Rooney delivering the corner and Wes Brown squeezing in the header at the far post. Rovers keeper Jason Brown appealed for a foul by Vidic but there was nothing doing.

Despite Blackburns undoubted effort, and the perennial business of striker Santa Cruz, they never managed to create anything of note - ensuring a third clean sheet in a row and a huge compliment to the back four who managed to keep their composure in terrible weather conditions.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who had previously come to life in fits and starts, provided the breakthrough to seal the game after a hour, with a blistering run on the right hand, pulling the ball back for Rooney who showed supreme control to guide the shot into the top corner.

It was just reward for United, and they could have scored again soon after, Ronaldo setting up Tevez in an almost identical position to Rooney, but the Argentina forward found the post.

Sir Alex Ferguson must have been delighted by the performance, and equally thrilled at the sight of such stunning composure and technical ability in the conditions. The result puts United within 3 points of Chelsea.

Ratings : van der Sar 7, Brown 8, Ferdinand 8, Vidic 8, Evra 7 (O'Shea 6), Ronaldo 8, Anderson 7, Giggs 7 (Tevez 7), *Rooney 8 (Park), Berbatov 8.