There are many ways a team can win a match.
1. Let the opposition take the lead, make them feel they have a good chance of winning, and then show them their place by beating them in the last 10 minutes (Manchester United have bragging rights over this one, almost like a trademark :)).
2. Score so many goals that the opposition would not even bother coming back into the game, and you hand yourself a handsome win.
3. Take a slender lead (1 or 2 goals) and let the opponents bring it on, show them how well you can defend.
4. Score a goal, just one. Make sure you squander all other chances you get (no matter how difficult it is to miss!). And then defend with all your life, hang on for dear life! Oh and yeah, make sure you do it on your home ground, against a team recently promoted into the top flight. You know, just to give those thousands of fans something they would never expect. 😀
Manchester United showed exactly how to carry out the 4th scenario last night when they faced West Ham United in the FA Cup replay match. 🙂
Sir Alex Ferguson made 10 changes to the side that defeated Liverpool on Sunday with only Rafael keeping his place. The return of Nani, Anderson and Rooney was a pleasing sight, as all of them came back from injury layoffs. The Hammers boss, Sam Allardyce, also took it as an opportunity to let his young guns get some experience under their belt.
The Red Devils made a flying start when Rooney tapped home in an empty net on 9 minutes. Anderson found Hernandez in ample space with a defence-splitting through ball. Chicharito selflessly squared the ball to Rooney, who could not miss from 4 yards out. Scoring so early into the game, and with such ease, would’ve made anyone think they were in for a goal scoring treat by Manchester United. But United made sure that was not to be 🙂
Now its not like United did not create chances. Almost every player in the side (except Anders Lindegaard, of course) got his chance to score a goal, from defender Chris Smalling to striker Javier Hernandez. They also let West Ham have their fair share of attempts on getting an equalizer (just to keep them interested in the game, like they ACTUALLY had something to play for! :D).
United had enough chances in the first half alone to put the game to bed. A misfiring shot from Nani every now and then, a goal bound header by Chris Smalling and a scorching drive by Wayne Rooney stopped by the Hammers goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and a half chance scuffed by Anderson meant United had only one goal to show at halftime.
United should’ve been 2-0 up three minutes after restart when Hernandez failed to capitalize on Alou Diara’s mistake and shot the ball over with just the goalkeeper to beat. Then began the dominance of West Ham. Commanding possession in the midfield, they created enough chances of their own to equalize but United’s back four stood firm. Sir Alex Ferguson, seeing his side were having problems getting the ball out from their own half, then made a change to bring on Michael Carrick in place of Anderson to steady the ship. The former West Ham man showed why he is indispensable to the side as he began to dictate the game through his calm headed passing and preventing the opponents from launching counter attacks. Just to make sure United keep their head above the water, Scholes was introduced in place of Nani.
The old gaurd of Giggsy, Scholesy and Carrick then took over the game. Ryan Giggs, who had been outstanding all evening, showed that age is only a number. He took to his original position on the left flank and started tearing the opponent’s defense apart. His cross which struck defender Jordan Spence on the hand gave United a penalty on the 77th minute. A chance to finally put the game to bed. But no, where’s the fun in that?! 😀
Rooney stepped up. Fired it into the crowd. United have missed 5 of their last 9 penalties. Shocking stat for a side which is being pipped for glory this season. No worries, though. The Old Gaurd was at it again, defending, holding the ball, driving the play out of United’s defensive third eventually seeing it all the way to the finish line. 🙂
Ryan Giggs was undoubtedly the Man of the Match. His skill on the ball, his vision to find players in spaces, his defensive abilities make him irreplaceable. Sir Alex sure will want him on his side for a few more years.
United face Fulham in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Lets hope they pick a different way of winning a game this time. 😀
Glory Glory Man Utd!!