A brace of penalties was enough to see off the challenge of Stoke City at Old Trafford last night.
But in all honesty it wasn`t exactly a game to warm the hearts of those who braved the bitter weather to pack into Old Trafford.
Team News – Sir Alex was forced to make a late change and give Ben Amos his Premier League debut after David de Gea was taken ill. With Lindegaard already out, Amos was the next available. Up front, Berbatov was given a berth alongside Hernandez as United were being asked to cope without Rooney again. Also out through injury were, amongst others, Vidic, Fletcher, Anderson, Nani, Jones, Owen and Young. Ferdinand returned though to give the centre of the defence a massive boost.
United – Amos, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Park, Hernandez, Berbatov
Subs – Kuscacak, Fabio, Rafael, Giggs, Pogba, Welbeck, Keane
First Half – With the action under way it was the visitors that had the first opportunity when Walters saw his shot flash past the outside of the post. Soon after; Jones also flashed a shot, from outside of the area, just wide of the post.
United were struggling to make a serious impact in a game whereby the opening stages created very few chances of real note. In fact our first real effort came form the boot of golden-oldie Scholes who saw his effort go narrowly the wrong side of the post.
As the half meandered along, United were awarded a penalty, Hernandez stepped forward and made no mistake for the spot sending Sorensen the wrong way after Pennant had clearly fouled Park.
United 1 Stoke 0 (Hernandez pen – 38 minutes)
Not the best of first halves though!
Half Time – United 1 Stoke 0
Second Half – With the second half underway United were soon awarded a second penalty, this time Berbatov stepped forward and United were 2-0 up. The spot kick being awarded after Valencia was brought down by Walters.
United 2 Stoke 0 (Berbatov pen – 53 minutes)
Following the second spot kick, and subsequent successful conversion, United were high and dry. Stoke were never looking likely to get back into the game and the biggest cheer, of the remainder of the night, came when it was announced that Darren Gibson had scored for Everton and condemned Manchester City to an unexpected defeat over at Goodison Park.
There will be better performances on the pitch but as we head into the month of February, the three points are most welcomed.
Next stop is Stamford Bridge!
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