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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
23 December 2012
• Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Referee: M. Oliver
• Attendance: 20650
P. Evra 16'
90' + 4'
FULL TIME Swansea 1-1 Manchester United. Michael Oliver airs three blasts of his whistle, and that's that. United certainly applied the pressure towards the game's end, but were never able to open up an admirably resilient Swansea defence. With the hosts also superb for long spells, especially when they attacked United, few can argue against the final score being a fair one. Thanks for reading!
90' + 3'
Ryan Giggs spots the slightest sight of goal, attempting to lop Vorm after the keeper had run out of his box to head clear a long ball. The Welshman's speculative effort is a decent one, but bounces safely wide of Vorm's goalframe.
90' + 1'
Yellow Card Paul Scholes
Paul Scholes picks up a caution for a trademark late slide-tackle.
United continue to turn the screw without making any clear cut chances on goal. Giggs and Scholes are seeing a lot of the ball, and have added an inventiveness to United's passing that was absent before their introductions. Swansea are standing firm, though.
Laudrup responds by sending on Itay Shechter for Kemy Augustien. The departing players gets a well deserved standing ovation from the home support.
Ferguson plays his final card, sending on the veteran Paul Scholes to replace his understudy at Old Trafford, Tom Cleverley.
Ferguson's men have begun to exert the sort of foreboding pressure that they so often do in the last ten minutes of games they're not winning. Giggs gives the hosts some respite, though, by giving away an unnecessary foul.
Two moments of last-gasp defending keep Swansea level, with Williams blocking a close-range van Persie effort, and Ben Davies clearing off the line from Ashley Young. The visitors are claiming handball, but Michael Oliver is not interested.
Michel Vorm's crossbar sees more action, this time rattled by a glancing header from Michael Carrick, who met a Giggs corner.
Rooney blasts the resulting free kick straight into the Swansea wall, and is promptly removed by his manager, with Ryan Giggs coming on. Rooney's had a nightmare today, in all honesty.
Yellow Card Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie is absolutely furious following a tangle between him and Ashley Williams on the edge of the box, and the two players go head to head in confrontation. a 20-man melee ensues, and both players are booked for their troubles.
Yellow Card Ashley Williams
Wayne Rooney steals the ball from the Swansea defence and attempts to square the ball for van Persie, who would only have to tap the ball in, but Chico Chico recovers to intercept the pass and prevent an almost certain goal.
Hernandez gets his first glimpse of goal. Van Persie's cutback scuttles just behind the Mexican, but he retrieves the ball and redirects it towards Vorm's goal from around the penalty spot, but is unable to catch the strike properly and the goalkeeper eventually collects.
Jonathan De Guzmán
Jonathan De Guzman, who's had a fine game for Swansea, is brought off the field to make way for Luke Moore. A positive change from Michael Laudrup.
Yellow Card Wayne Rooney
Rooney, now operating out on the left wing after Hernandez's introduction, is booked for a clear trip on the again-onrushing Tiendalli.
Right on cue, Robin van Persie rattles the Swansea crossbar with a wonderfully inventive looping effort with his instep after Rooney had crossed from the left flank.
United seem to have finally found their stride now, and are enjoying their first sustained spell of meaningful possession. The are working the ball forward with purpose, and it's beginning to looks ominous for the hosts.
Hernandez is involved striaght away for United, feeding Ashley Young down the right hand side, but Young's proceeding cross is overhit and sails away from the danger area.
Ki Sung-Yeung enters the fray for the hosts, coming on for Leon Britton.
Antonio Valencia, who hasn't enjoyed one of his more productive games, makes way for the introduction of Javier Hernandez.
Rooney fires the resulting free kick at goal. He catches it well, but Michel Vorm doesn't have to move to in order beat the strike clear.
Yellow Card Chico
United are keen to start playing the game at their own pace, with Michael Carrick getting on the ball in midfield and spraying it out wide. One of his passes pick out Ashley Young, who is clattered from behind by Chico and the Spaniard is yellow carded.
Kemy Augutien is continuing his adventurousness from right back in this half, first straying offside after a barreling run forward, then moments later beating Ashley Young and whipping a decent cross into the United penalty box.
Williams is at the heart of the action once again, this time throwing himself in front of a goalbound strike from Ashley Young shortly after Wayne Routledge had called De Gea into action again at the other end of the pitch. It's been a lively start to the second half.
Williams then ventures all the way to the opther end of the field with the ball at his feet. A powerful long-range strike follows some lovely footwork, but De Gea parries the ball away from his goalmouth.
van Persie and Rooney link up well, the former flicking on a long ball into the path of the England international. Rooney, though, is unable to find a way past Ashley Williams, and his eventual shot hits the shins of the Welshman and rebounds into safety.
Tom Cleverley is looking to dictate things for the visitors in these early stages of the second half, arrowing some nice passes into the feet of van Persie and Valencia., though the attacks come to nothing.
Rooney had not enjoyed the finest of form throughout the first half, and picks up where he left off, lofting a languid pass straight into the path of Kemy Agustien under minimal pressure.
...and we're away again for the second half. Swansea work the ball amongst their midfielders nicely straight away, but Jonny Evans snuffs out a through ball from Nathan Dyer.
Here's our own correspondent, Tom McKeown's take on the first half: "We're level at the break, and the score is a fair reflection of the opening 45 minutes. United arguably took the lead against the run of play but finished the half strongly after the hosts enjoyed a bright spell, moving the ball around in their typical style. Michu's strike takes him ahead of Van Persie in the top scorer chart, but I wouldn't bet against there being more goals in this game."
So far, almost nothing has separated today's two teams, with both going forward well, keeping the ball nicely in spells, and linking well between midfield and attack. One thing that could spell the ultimate difference in the second half, though, is their respective benches. United have both Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck in reserve, as well as the nous of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. The hosts have quality amongst their substitutes too, with the likes of Danny Graham and Ki Sung-Yeung, but not of the same standard as Ferguson's men.
Michu's strike, incidentally, has taken him clear at the top of the Premier League's top scorers chart, one goal ahead of today's counterpart, Robin van Persie - an astonishing return on Michael Laudrup's summer investment of £2.2million. The Netherlands international, on the other hand, has cut a more peripheral figure than usual in this game so far. The visitors will want to involve him a lot more in the second half if they're to come away from the Liberty Stadium with all three points.
Michael Oliver brings an end to a brief spell of United pressure by blowing up for the end of the first half. It's been a lively opening period here in Wales, with some fine football being played, very little separating the two sides and the scoreline a fair one.
Wayne Rooney drifts out to the left flanks, but fails to bring the ball under his mastery and is dispossessed by Tiendalli. A few seconds later, Patrice Evra makes his way to the byline to pick Rooney out with a cut-back, but his left-footed strike, though well hit, is straight at Vorm.
Wayne Routledge, who has enjoyed a fine first half, does excellently to work some space on the edge of the box and play a neat one-two with Michu, but his cross is overhit and sails behind De Gea's goal.
Robin van Persie relieves the pressure for the visitors, plucking a raking long ball from the sky with a gorgeous, Berbatov-esque, first touch. He tries to feed Valencia on the right, but the Ecuadorian is dispossessed.
The hosts are keeping the ball far better now, and look the most likely of the two sides to score. United simply cannot maintain possession, with Rooney the latest player in red to give the ball away cheaply in midfield.
Ashley Williams latches onto a throw-in from Swansea's right wing to loop a teasing cross over De Gea's goal, but no attacker can meet it. De Guzman picks up the ball on the other flank, outmuscles Tom Cleverley, and whips an ambitious effort into the keeper's chest from the narrowest of angles.
The equaliser has lifted the home side, who have now enjoyed a sustained spell of pressure in the immediate aftermath of their goal. Patrice Evra is forced to concede a corner after a positive overlapping run from Ben Davies.
GOAL!!! Swansea 1-1 Manchester United. Michu - who else? - taps in from close range after David De Gea had done well to parry an effort from De Guzman, who was put clean through by Wayne Routledge. The Spanish keeper got down well, but could only push the ball into his compatriot's path, who couldn't miss from only a couple of yards out.
Yellow Card Phil Jones
The visiting right back now finds himself in Michael Oliver's book. Jones was late in clattering into Ben Davies, after having overrun an attempted dribble.
Phil Jones makes his first meaningful venture forwards, chipping his cross onto the roof of Vorm's net after Rooney had picked him out arriving into the penalty area with a well-disguised pass.
In fact, it's Ferguson's men who are enjoying plenty of possession, with Carrick and Cleverley keeping things ticking over efficeintly from central midfield, and Ashley Young seeing a lot of the ball out on the left.
The pace of the game has slowed down somewhat now, in the wake of Evra's opener. Swansea are trying their best to retain some of their signature spells of possession, having been unable to do so as yet, but United's pressing and harrying is making it difficult for Michael Laudrup's side.
There looked, briefly, to be a great chance for the hosts to respond immediately. Jonathan De Guzman thought he'd found himself clean through on De Gea's goal, only for referee Michael Oliver to blow up for an off-the-ball foul by Michu. The home fans are not happy with that decision.
Assist Robin van Persie
Goal Patrice Evra
GOAL!!! Swansea 0-1 Manchester United. Patrice Evra - deceptively good in the air - ghosts onto an inswinging Robin van Persie corner to glance a header inside the far post. The visitors are in front.
The visitors reply with an attack of their own, with Wayne Rooney's well-hit strike beaten away by Michel Vorm. It's been a lively start here at the Liberty Stadium.
Michu finds space in behind United's very high back line once again, this time dragging a shot wide having been picked out well by Wayne Routledge's slide-rule pass. Promising for the hosts.
The hosts continue to apply the pressure as Wayne Routledge works some space on the edge of the box, but only manages a tame effort at De Gea's goal.
First real chance of the game, as Michu peels off the shoulder of Nemanja Vidic to meet a raking through ball from Kemy Agustien, but slices his left-footed strike high and wide from a good position.
Adventurous play from full back Dwight Tiendalli for the Swans, as he gets forward twice in quick succession, fizzing a low ball across United's six-yard box, before winning a corner shortly after. De Gea collects the ball well, though.
Van Persie and Rooney - the partnership which has been so fruitful in recent weeks - seem to be taking turns to drop into the hole in the game's opening minutes, as Ashley Young fails to beat his man and the returning Vorm has a goal kick.
The visitors win an early corner after some foraging wingplay from Valencia, but van Persie's delivery comes to nothing. United dominating possession in the opening stages so far.
We're underway here in Swansea, with the home fans in roaringly good voice. De Guzman nicks the ball off Michael Carrick early on and feeds Nathan Dyer on the right, but his cross is headed clear.
Meanwhile, Goal.com's very own man at the Liberty Stadium is Tom McKeown. Here's his take on today's game: "Everything about this game points to goals. It's the battle of the top scorers as Robin van Persie and Michu - both with 12 Premier League strikes - look to maintain their superb form. The Swans have the worst home defensive record outside the bottom three, while United have been scoring for fun despite being susceptible to early strikes several times this season. The signs are there for a goal fest, so the inevitable drab 0-0 probably awaits..."
Today's big match-ups could well come down the flanks, with the directness of Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young likely to cause plenty of problems for Swansea's full backs, Dwight Tiendalli and Ben Davies. The Swans' defenders with have to keep the visiting wide men quiet if they are to come away from today's game with a share of the points. At the same time, Phil Jones and Patrice Evra have proved susceptible defensively in recent seasons, and the hosts may look to exploit that potential Achilles heel in Sir Alex Ferguson's side.
Manchester United team in full: De Gea; Jones, Evans, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Young, Rooney, van Persie. Subs: Lindegaard, Giggs, Hernandez, Welbeck, Scholes, Fletcher, Buttner
Swansea team in full: Vorm; Tiendalli, Chico, Williams, Davies; Britton, Augustein, De Guzman, Dyer, Routledge; Michu. Subs: Tremmel, Monk, Ki, Richards, Graham, Shechter, Morre
The hosts make two changes from their last game, welcoming back goalkeeper Michel Vorm from a groin injury. The big team news comes for the visitors, though, as captain Nemanja Vidic makes his first start in three months alongside Jonny Evans in the heart of defence.
The team news is in from both sides, and reads as follows...
Good afternoon everyone and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE! text commentary from today's Premier League clash between Swansea and Manchester United. I'm Alex Hess and I'll be guiding you through all the action from the Liberty Stadium today.
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