Not a soul on Earth would have thought before the match started that the final score would be Reading 3-4 Manchester United! It is the 10th game of the season that Manchester United have given their opponents a head-start by conceding first, and the 7th time that they have come from behind to win the match. While this boasts about their ruthless attacking strength, it also exposes thier defensive fragilities, which are really a concern at the moment.
Reading took the lead through Hal Robson-Kanu after just 8 minutes from start with a well-timed volley. Although it was a well-timed shot, Man Utd’s back four could have done a much better job defending their turf. But the lead lasted just 5 minutes when Ashley Young rolled the ball in for Anderson, who levelled the score with a thunderous strike past the Reading goalkeeper. The sheer power on the ball left the keeper helpless; the most he could do was parry the ball in his own net! Just minutes after, Jay Tabb gave away a silly penalty by pushing Johnny Evans to the ground. The lead was served on a golden plate by Wayne Rooney converting the penalty with much ease.
But the match had just begun. Adam Le Fondre (a Man Utd admirer himself) took advantage of poor marking skills and headed home a Nicky Shorey corner. Shorey was again the provider on 23-minutes for Sean Morrison as he curled in another corner, and the young defender rose above Evans to give Reading the lead for the second time in first half. United were quick to react as Ashley Young set Patrice Evra in motion who squared the ball to Rooney, who made sure he did not miss from 3 yards. United level again! Rooney also earned an assist by flicking the ball into the path of Robin van Persie, who gave Man Utd the lead for the 2nd time in less than 40 minutes! (He wasnt offside, check the position of the left back)!
Reading and Manchester United created history by scoring the most number of goals (7, if that wasnt clear enough!) ever in the first half of an English Premier League match. It couldve been 8 had Robin van Persie’s strike just before halftime not been ruled out. BTW, I’m still against bringing in the goal line technology, but thats a whole other topic.
The second half proved a real anti-climax as there was barely a chance to talk of as United held on to take the win and go clear at the summit of the Premier League. Van Persie did have a clear chance to double his tally after rounding up the (not so smart) goalkeeper to only shoot wide of the goal post. Man Utd looked more mature defending in the second half and keeping out most of the attacks.
The man of the match, for me, was without a doubt Wayne Rooney. He was found all over the pitch, starting off at the left wing, coming into the midfield, coming in as centre forward and scoring a goal and defending lethal corners. The guy’s work rate is unbelievable! Another commendable performance (not many would agree with me on this one) was one of Johnny Evans. Agreed, his first half performance was a nightmare but he really showed his composure and defensive skills in the second half. It wasn’t such a good evening for Rafael da Silva, who was substituted after he picked up a yellow card in the first 30 minutes. He is a menace when it comes to attacking, but he might have to brush up on his defensive skills a bit.
Manchester United made hard work of what was supposed to be a walk in the park for league leaders against a relegation struggler side. At the end of the day, though, what matters is getting 3 points on the board. 🙂 Tonight’s performance, however, makes one wonder- are Manchester United ready to face Manchester City next weekend?