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January 28, 2014
• Old Trafford, Manchester
Referee: C. Pawson
• Attendance: 75301
R. van Persie 6'
A. Young 59'
That's my cue, it's been a pleasure. Bye for now.
A comfortable debut for Mata, and a comfortable night all around for Manchester United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made an emotional, but ultimately fruitless return to his former stomping grounds as his side must now look elsewhere for help in their search for survival. Van Persie scored on his return from injury, and things may be finally looking up at Old Trafford.
90' + 5'
That's it! Man Utd see it out!
90' + 4'
Looks to be a good strike from Rooney, but it starts to bend towards the end and whizzes the wrong side of the post!
90' + 3'
Bellamy has a good chance to play on the break for Cardiff, but hits a pass way too far ahead of Campbell, and the opening dries up in an instant.
90' + 1'
Stoppage time upon us once again, and there will be four minutes of it.
Another Cardiff corner, which comes to nothing once again. Campbell wastes a good chance to hit a first time shot from that delivery, and instead bobbles it over the bar after some awkward control.
Rooney spots the keeper off his line, and, as he is wont to do, tries to lob him, but it falls far too close to Marshall, who catches comfortably in the end.
Cardiff have two corners back to back, but cannot get close to making any of them count.
Final United change, as Mata's debut ends and Januzaj comes on in his stead. A solid, if unspectacular debut from the Spaniard.
United in no hurry and you can't blame them with eight minutes remaining. Moyes will be happy to see this out and pick up a vital three points.
Time starting to ebb away now, and in truth, the result has been in no doubt since Young decided to pull that goal right out of the top drawer.
On comes Daehli for his senior debut for Cardiff. He actually played for Man Utd until 2013, and won the club's Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award two years ago for his play in the youth squads. Still only 18 years old.
CRUCIAL touch from Marshall pushes a Valencia shot onto the post, after the Ecuadorian winger had shifted into space on the edge of the six yard area!
Rooney shrugs off a defender and fires away at goal. The shot, aided by a deflection off Caulker, just fizzes wide of Marshall's right hand post!
United plotting something at the edge of the area with Mata heavily involved, but Cardiff are holding their form and keeping their shape.
Twenty minutes remaining, and United are sitting pretty. Keeping with the pattern this season, they've been far from their best, but two goals is just a bridge too far for Cardiff to cross one feels.
Rushed shot from Evans from all of 25 yards, which bends the wrong way and goes wide, much to the relief of Marshall!
Good play from Valencia to beat his man for pace towards the right byeline, but his cross is narrowly ahead of the lurking Rooney.
So we won't get our first glimpse at the new United big three together on the pitch, as Van Persie is replaced by Rooney.
Robin van Persie
Juan Mata attemts to replicate Young's effort from moments ago, cutting onto his right peg on the left and letting fly, but this effort is straight at Marshall.
United have that oh-so-important bit of breathing space. Tough on Cardiff, who were just beginning to come alive in the game. Meanwhile, Moyes is plotting to re-introduce Rooney on the sidelines.
The winger produces one for the very top of his catalogue, cutting in from the left onto his right foot and arrowing a wonderful effort into the opposite corner!
WHAT A GOAL FROM YOUNG!
Terrific buildup play from Noone, who squeezes past his man on the byeline and nearly squares to Bellamy for the tap in! That's twice now Cardiff have beaten United to the byeline in the second half!
Cardiff have had their fair share of the ball in this second half, and are looking increasingy capable every time they attack. United still have a lot of work to do.
UNITED REALLY LET OFF THE HOOK! John sprints past Evra on the left, Evans slips, and he seems primed to square to Campbell for the finish! But his pass is just a little behind the striker at the near post!
Dangerous free kick into the area from Giggs, and it's met by Van Persie...but he heads over! Decent opening that for the home team.
Good play from United to work Valencia into a crossing position on the right, but his ping into the box is just, just ahead of Van Persie. Young cannot recover the rebound in time to punish a scrambling defence.
Cardiff have made an energetic start to the second half, and have abandoned their deeper defensive line in favour of pressing United higher up the pitch.
Here we go again!
Manchester United lead at the interval. It's not a commanding lead by any stretch, as Cardiff have rebuffed most of their other efforts to find another breakthrough. Van Persie scores on his return, and there's been cautious positivity around the play of Mata, who was involved in the opener. Cardiff are only a goal away though, and are not out of this in any way. Stay tuned for the restart in just a bit.
45' + 2'
That's it for the half.
45' + 1'
Into stoppage time now, of which there's only a minute.
It has to be said that the visitors have held a solid shape at the back for most of the game. Man Utd have found chances very hard to come by since the opener. One mistake can blow up in their faces.
Evans loks to switch the play out to Rafael with a searching ball, and the right back manages to keep it in, but his cross cannot beat the first man. Cardiff holding firm at the back.
Evans and De Gea confuse each other when attempting to deal with a routine cross from Cardiff. The keeper should have been all over that, if I'm honest, flattening anyone, friend or foe, that got in his way.
There's been enough in this to suggest that United won't get complacent on the back of a one goal lead. And after the season that they've had, there's no way that they should be!
Noone puts in an absolute peach of a cross into the area that narrowly evades two Cardiff bodies in the box! Best move of the match from the visitors so far.
Good move from a short corner sees Valencia pick out Van Persie at the far post, but with the angle diminishing by the second, he strikes it the wrong side of the post!
The Phil Jones Face, quite literally, comes to Man Utd's rescue, as he takes a stinging shot from Whittingham full on the nose.
Not for the first time, Campbell tries to get the better of Smalling by trying to steer a flick around the centre back, but he's not falling for it, and marshalls the play excellently.
Cardiff's turn now to hold a spell of possession, as United sit deep and soak up the pressure. Not much in the way of chances though, and this game is still very much up for grabs.
United continue to enjoy the lion's share of the ball, and are slowly chipping away at this Cardiff midfield and defence. The pressing from their frontline is admirable.
Despite all the attention for Mata's arrival, it's the return to fitness of Robin van Persie that is being sung to the heavens by the Old Trafford faithful.
Curmudgeon-in-chief Craig Bellamy puts himself under pressure for the rest of the game with a needless yellow card, kicking the ball away in protest at a free kick given against his team.
Yellow CardCraig Bellamy
THERE WE GO! Mata's pinpoint ball to the far post nearly gets turned in by the sprawling Young, but he cannot make clean enough contact on the ball and a great chance goes begging!
Not much to report in terms of chances since the opening salvo, as both teams feel each other out.
Still some kinks to work out in the United front six, as Mata is dropping deeper and deeper to get the ball and get himself involved in the game. Perhaps United are overplaying it a little in the centre.
Have to say it's getting a bit unappetizing down there on the pitch. UNited have unwisely taken their foot off the gas, inviting Cardiff back into the game, but the visitors are unwilling to accept the invite, playing their own brand of cautious football.
Cardiff starting to show some signs of life in the attacking third. Campbell is run close by Smalling before eventually losing the ball near the byeline, before Mutch tries to pick out the striker again, but the pass is overhit.
United have all the time in the world to ping passes around, as Cardiff sit deep, attempting to plot their fortunes on the counter attack.
Things are suddenly looking up at Old Trafford. A dream start to the game, their main Dutchman back and firing, and Mata heavily involved already. No wonder the Stretford End is awash with noise!
GoalRobin van Persie
MAN UTD STRIKE EARLY! What a scramble in the box, as Valencia's header from Young's cross hits the bar. Van Persie's follow up is saved excellently by Marshall, but he can do nothing to stop the Dutchman's second followup! 1-0!
Poor pass from Smalling is caught by Cardiff, but Mutch, on the flanks, cannot pick out anything other than a red shirt with the ball into the box, and the chance is gone.
Some good early pressure from United, who are keen to get Mata on the ball whenever possible. He's been spotted drifting out to the flanks regularly to pick up possession.
Here we go then!
Just five minutes to go until kick off and there will certainly be plenty of anticipation surrounding tonight's game. Can United kick start their stuttering season, or will Cardiff spoil the party and snatch a result and look to rise off the foot of the table?
The Norwegian is a hero among the Manchester United faithful for his winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final that saw the Red Devils secure a famous treble. Another member of that squad, Ryan Giggs, features tonight, making his 800th start in a United shirt. Astounding.
For his return to Old Trafford, Cardiff boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer makes seven changes to the side that defeated Bolton Wanderers 1-0 in the fourth round of the FA Cup at the weekend. One of those switches is to hand the goalscorer from the game, Frazier Campbell, a start as he also returns to his former stomping grounds.
Cardiff City subs: Lewis, Turner, Gunnarsson, Kim, Daehli, Eikrem, Berget.
Cardiff City (4-4-2): Marshall; McNaughton, Caulker, Hudson, John; Noone, Medel, Mutch, Whittingham; Campbell, Bellamy.
Man United subs: Lindegaard, Fletcher, Cleverley, Kagawa, Januzaj, Rooney, Hernandez.
Man United (4-4-1-1): De Gea; Rafael, Smalling, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Jones, Giggs, Young; Mata; Van Persie.
The teams have been announced, so lets see how they will shape up this evening.
Having been knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round, United have had nearly a week's rest since their Capital One Cup elimination at the hands of Sunderland. David Moyes will no doubt have been working his charges extremely hard during their break and he and fans alike will be expecting a vastly improved result today.
Good evening and welcome to tonight's LIVE play-by-play coverage of the Premier League meeting between Manchester United and Cardiff City. The Red Devils currently sit six points adrift of the Champions League places but they have received a double boost for this evening: Robin van Persie returns to the starting line-up alongside new club-record signing Juan Mata, who debuts.
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