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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
April 15, 2012
• 11:00 AM
• Old Trafford, Manchester
Referee: M. Halsey
• Attendance: 75138
W. Rooney 7', 73'
D. Welbeck 43'
Coverage continues on Goal.com of Chelsea v Spurs in the FA Cup semi final, and reaction from this game will follow. However, that's it from me. Thank you all for following me, and for taking part this afternoon, it was brilliant fun. I've been Chris Teale, and it's been an absolute pleasure to watch this game with you all. Have a good evening, everybody.
Well, they looked rather comfortable out there, did the home side. Paul Scholes was Man of the Match, but it could have been just about anyone. Rooney wasn't on form at all, but still managed to grab two goals. Villa are still in a precarious position, but it's still very much in their hands.
90' + 4'
FULL TIME at Old Trafford, and it’s a comfortable 4-0 win for Manchester United that sees them increase their gap over Manchester City at the top of the table to five points. Wayne Rooney was not quite at his best, but still managed to score two goals, and with Danny Welbeck and Nani adding one apiece, it was a straightforward three points for a home side that played some scintillating attacking football at times. Villa, meanwhile, will still be looking over their shoulders at the precipice of the relegation zone, and at times today were completely outplayed by a rampant United side.
90' + 3'
90' + 3'
GOAL!!! That's the icing on the cake for United, as Jonny Evans slips a pass through to Nani, who dinks the ball over Given to give the home side a 4-0 lead.
90' + 2'
90' + 1'
Yellow CardBarry Bannan
And there will be four minutes of added time at the end of the game.
Oh, so nearly for Berbatov. His shot on goal from inside the area is blocked by a last-ditch tackle and away for a corner. Great shame.
We've spent a lot of time talking about United's attacking players, and have barely touched on their defence. Well, there's not a lot to say, really. They haven't needed to do a lot, and have looked comfortable.
After all the calls on Twitter for his inclusion, Berbatov hasn't quite had the impact his fans wanted him to. Both sides seem to be going through the motions a bit now, as this game is all but over.
Valencia unleashes a fierce shot, and after a deflection, Given claws the ball over once again. He's really done well to keep the score to just 3-0.
And off comes Paul Scholes to a standing ovation, to be replaced by Tom Cleverley.
The ball is pinballing around in the Villa box once again, and from a Welbeck shot, Given saves well once again, showing his brilliant reflexes in between the posts.
Given handles outside the area, but referee Halsey lets play continue. Big cheer for Berbatov's first touch from the United fans.
GOAL!!!!! He's had an absolute shocker, but it's a second for Wayne Rooney! Intricate passing play sees Valencia tee up the England striker, whose shot takes a deflection and goes into the net! 3-0 to United!
Villa have definitely looked brighter in this second half, as Agbonlahor forces a corner. It comes in, and a header goes just wide from that man Nathan Baker. He's been in the action today, in a number of ways.
Sharan Mujoo says that Rooney's penalties have masked his poor form, and I'd have to agree. Rooney hasn't looked on song at all today, and scuffs another shot wide.
Great bit of witty banter from Rishad Chatterjee on Twitter, who says: "The nerve of Villa players touching Ashley Young when he's in full flight. You'd think this was a contact sport." He's off now, but is clearly gaining a bad reputation among football fans.
I was mocking him earlier, but Heskey has an early chance with a header that de Gea tips over the bar.
There's been a bit of a lack of action on the pitch, which is a bit of a shame. Ciaran Clark tried to play on with a bandaged and bleeding headm but he's replaced by Emile Heskey.
Now, was that a handball by Nathan Baker in the box? The United fans think so, referee Mark Halsey disagrees.
Anubhav has his wish, as Ashley Young is replaced by Nani on the left-hand side.
Anubhav has his own thoughts on selection via Twitter: "Berba in Welbeck out.. Rooney upfront with berba. Nani for young..Valencia on the other wing.And United win 6-0" There you go folks, it's as easy as that!
While we're having a break for treatment, Muhammad Sirajuddeen mentions that this is the third straight game Rooney hasn't contributed for United. Ouch, Clark's head is bleeding quite badly, but Evra is fine and will come back on.
Two players are down injured. Evra is feeling his shoulder, while Ciaran Clark is holding his head. The two body parts came together, and it looks rather painful for both.
Meanwhile, the Twitter calls for Berbatov are growing. Akshay says that as United's top scorer last season, he deserves his chance.
This is a decent spell for Villa, as they come forward and look to cross it into the United box. However, Barry Bannan wastes it, and blasts a very hopeful shot way over the bar. Shame, that.
Yellow CardAlan Hutton
Slight delay here as Gabriel Agbonlahor limps off rather gingerly after a robust Scholes tackle. Never fear, Villa fans, Emile Heskey is warming up on the sidelines, looking to end his goalless streak that began in August.
Yellow CardPaul Scholes
Villa's defence still looks shaky, and United are still looking to attack. Do they perhaps have one eye on their goal difference?
Well, after a well-earned break for the players, Manchester United kick off, and get us started in this second half. They're 2-0 up, and there are growing calls on Twitter for Berbatov to be introduced. Thoughts? Tweet @GoalUK or Tweet me @chris_teale
On Twitter again, Anubhav makes a good point, as if Berbatov does come on, where would he play? Rooney hasn't been on top form, but could change a game in seconds. Welbeck has been outstanding. And with a 2-0 lead, playing 4-3-3 probably isn't the most sensible move. You're right, Anubhav, it is a selection headache.
Meanwhile, Muhammad mi kassim is back Tweeting me, and he wants to see Dimitar Berbatov come on, as he has a happy knack of scoring. Meanwhile, Muhammad Sirajuddeen thinks Welbeck deserves another for his exceptional movement. I absolutely agree with that, he has looked superb.
An interesting half of football, that. United look relatively comfortable out there, and unless they do something really stupid, should take their lead back to five points at the top of the Premier League table.
45' + 1'
HALF TIME at Old Trafford, and it’s 2-0 to Manchester United thanks to Wayne Rooney’s penalty and a great finish by Danny Welbeck. The home side have played some scintillating football at times, and will be delighted to be ahead by a two-goal margin. Villa have struggled to stay with the champions at times, and despite holding the score at 1-0 for a long time, couldn’t take advantage of the home fans’ anxiety and equalise. 2-0 to United, and it is almost inconceivable they will throw this away.
GOAL!!!! It's 2-0 to United, and the perfect time to strike for the home side! Evra slides a cross in along the ground, and Baker doesn't clear it, letting it run through his legs. However, Welbeck's there at the back post, and puts it away to make it 2-0!
Wayne Rooney hasn't quite got going here, despite his well-taken penalty. His touch to Carrick in the box is heavy, and caught by Given.
Yellow CardGary Gardner
On Twitter, eniife is wondering why Scholes left his considerable talent at home when he was retired. With this performance, I can completely agree, and am so so glad he's out of retirement and still playing like this.
From the sublime, to the ridiculous, for Valencia. The ball bobbles through to him after Villa give it away, and his first-time shot from just inside the box goes wide for a throw-in. The crowd take cover.
Michael Carrick goes rampaging forward on a superb run, but his final ball lets him down and the ball is cleared. Then, almost immediately, Valencia drives a cross in, to which Welbeck gets a toe, and Shay Given makes a superb reaction save.
Goal.com's intrepid reporter at Old Trafford is Mark Fordham, and he has this to say about the game so far: "Manchester United have really looked in the mood going forward so far but the longer it stays 1-0 Villa will feel like they are still in the game. Even barely reaching the United half, Villa have managed to carve out a couple of decent openings."
Wow, Paul Scholes catches a volley on goal straight from the corner, and dear me he catches it well. Perfect strike, but it goes wide.
Rafael makes a complete mess of keeping Weimann away from the ball, and he finds Stephen Ireland. His curled shot goes wide of the far post, but it gives de Gea something to think about as he scrambles across.
Paul Scholes has a great shot on the volley from the corner, but it's straight at Shay Given and goes into the goalkeeper's arms comfortably. Scholes makes the difficult look ridiculously easy.
Beautiful football from United, and Villa are just about holding on. Valencia, Rooney and Rafael are all involved, and Young sees his shot blocked for another corner.
And from the resulting corner, Carrick flicks it on, and Rooney's header goes just wide! Slightly too high for him, that header.
Welbeck somehow muscles his way past James Collins, and has a shot on goal blocked away for a corner to the home side.
They're not a big side are Aston Villa, and Baker heads a free kick narrowly wide. On Twitter, Muhammad mi kassim says that unless United don't get a second, Villa will come back and get an equaliser. With set pieces like that, they are definitely a threat.
Wayne Rooney then has a great shot that has Shay Given scrambling, and the Irishman turns it around the post.
Superb chance there for Danny Welbeck. Rooney's cross comes in from the left, and his strike partner's header is blocked at the far post by Nathan Baker. United are definitely in the mood this afternoon.
Ashley Young is causing problems on the left, and is scythed down by Stephen Ireland for a United free kick.
Renger Dotinga on Twitter makes an interesting point - "Young's second debatable penalty in as many games - a reputation in the making? Shouldn't matter though - Utd should win by 3 "
Meanwhile, eniife on Twitter fancies a 4-0 win for United. Well, they're well on their way already thanks to that Rooney penalty, and with Villa struggling to keep the ball, it may be a long afternoon for the away side.
Stunning cross-field pass from Scholes is on a plate for Valencia on the right again. He's already causing them problems, but not this time as he can't quite get a cross in.
Valencia does brilliantly to keep that in play, and he feeds Young to his left in acres of space. However, his pass on to Scholes is snuffed out and cleared.
Yellow CardMichael Carrick
Rare event there, as Michael Carrick is booked for sliding in on Gary Gardner. He certainly went in with a robust challenge, but was perhaps unlucky to be cautioned so early.
Penalty GoalWayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney steps up, and it's in! Placed into the bottom left-hand corner of the net, and it's 1-0 to Manchester United!
And it's a penalty to the home side! Young cuts in from the left, and receives minimal contact in the box. He goes to ground, and referee Mark Halsey awards a penalty!
On Twitter, Arif setya basuki is hoping for a 2-1 Aston Villa win. Remember folks, @GoalUK or @chris_teale for your thoughts.
The home side, as ever, look comfortable in possession in these early stages. Rooney sees a shot blocked by his own team-mate, former Villa man Ashley Young.
Antonio Valencia already looks full of running, but then Wiemann comes through on his own and shoots straight at David de Gea.
Villa kick us off, and the first half of this crucial game in the title run-in has begun!
Remember, you can get in touch with us via Twitter @GoalUK, or even with me @chris_teale. We'd love to hear from you, if you're out there following this game.
So, here come the teams out of the Old Trafford tunnel, with the strains of LMFAO's 'Party Rock Anthem' thankfully replaced by something a little more appropriate. The traditional fanfare sounds, and kick-off is fast approaching
Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson had this to say about the Premier League title race, which he knows is very much back on: “The good thing we have done is get the gap to five points, and I would have been happy with that for the rest of the season. But, we lost to Wigan, they lost to Arsenal, so the race is back on. I’m proud of the players for getting there after being so many points back, but there is all to play for.”
Both managers have been talking to Sky Sports in the run-up to the game. First, here’s what Alex McLeish has been saying about his Aston Villa side’s chances for the rest of the season: “Results fell our way yesterday, but I would like our players to believe that in the coming weeks we can secure our own destiny, as it’s in our own hands. If we can get two or three wins, and get to 40 points at least, we’ll be safe, which we are capable of doing. We’ve had lots of injuries this season, and have had a number of young players come in, and they’ve handled the pressure well.”
Paul Scholes returns to the centre of the United midfield after being rested for the 1-0 defeat to Wigan, while Danny Welbeck and Rafael are recalled at the expense of Phil Jones and Javier Hernandez. Meanwhile, Villa make two changes, with Stephen Warnock and Chris Herd replaced by Eric Lichaj and Ciaran Clark.
However, before we get into that, the teams are in, and are as follows: United: De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Young; Rooney, Welbeck. Subs - Cleverley, Nani, Hernandez, Giggs, Berbatov, Jones, Amos. Aston Villa: Given; Hutton, Collins, Baker, Lichaj; Bannan, Gardner, Clark, Ireland; Weimann, Agbonlahor. Subs - Guzan, Johnson, Delfouneso, Heskey, N'Zogbia, Cuellar, Carruthers.
We’re all for reader participation here at Goal.com, so please do get in touch with us via Twitter. Tweet us @GoalUK, or you can even Tweet me @chris_teale. Do share predictions, thoughts, opinions, anything that comes into your head, and I’ll put some on here.
Well, we all thought the Premier League title race was virtually done and dusted. However, after two crushing wins for Man City, their Manchester rivals now only have a two-point lead at the top of the table. This is their game in hand, against a Villa side still rather precariously placed just six points clear of the relegation zone. This one could be rather interesting.
Good afternoon, and welcome to Goal.com’s LIVE! text commentary on Manchester United v Aston Villa from Old Trafford.
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