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March 16, 2013
• Old Trafford, Manchester
Referee: M. Clattenburg
• Attendance: 75605
W. Rooney 21'
With that 1-0 win over Reading, Manchester United go 15 points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table, meaning the Red Devils need just 13 points to clinch the title. Defeat leaves Reading second from bottom, exactly where they were at the beginning of the day. Thank you for joining me today, I hope you have enjoyed the coverage. Feel free to find me on Twitter (@RyanRyanBenson) if you wish to debate the talking points further.
90' + 6'
Eventually Smalling clears properly and with Giggs in possession, the referee blows his whistle for full-time.
90' + 5'
Late pressure from Reading as Morrison crosses from the right and Smalling fails to clear.
90' + 4'
Good chance for United to get a second! Shinji Kagawa's first real involvement sees him latch on to a pass from Smalling and then chip the ball into the area for Van Persie. The forward produces a flamboyant over-head kick, but it goes just over the bar.
90' + 2'
Clever play by Giggs as he and Smalling produce a one-two near Reading's left-hand corner. The midfielder is tracked by Leigertwood, but he cuts the ball back and draws a foul from the midfielder.
Van Persie turns away from Shorey brilliantly down United's right. He then cuts inside a little and crosses towards the far post, but as has been the case with virtually all of United's crosses, it is headed away before Rooney can put it in the goal.
The corner comes into the area and goes straight to Morrison, but it is too high for him, and he heads the ball out of the penalty area on the stretch.
Sean Morrison comes on to add another head to aim for just prior to the corner being taken.
Shorey wins Reading a corner from Smalling down the Royals' left.
Reading have little more than four minutes plus stoppage time to salvage something from this, and they are certainly piling players forward.
From the following corner, Welbeck keeps possession for United on the far side after an over-hit delivery. He then picks out Rooney on the edge of the box, who unleashes a first-time shot towards goal, but it goes just over.
Giggs plays a corner short to Carrick. Carrick then finds Rooney in the area who in turn flicks the ball back into the path of Giggs. The veteran does well to evade the attentions of Shorey, but Taylor puts his effort behind.
Since the introduction of Carrick for Young, United's use of the ball has improved immeasurably. However, their effectiveness on the wings is somehow even worse.
United very nearly play themselves into a problematic position as they fail to deal with a stray ball from McCleary. Vidic eventually comes across to clear up, but all he can do is put it into touch under pressure.
Robin Van Persie's fruitless spell looks set to continue today. The forward finds himself on the left now and he tries to cross, but his effort is blocked. The Dutch striker has not had a good game.
Nevertheless, we have 15 minutes left here. Anderson on the ball now and he does well to get around Shorey and cross with his right foot, but Pearce heads it away before Rooney can meet it.
This match still hasn't really woken up. After the quiet first 25 minutes, one would have expected it to liven up a bit, but it just hasn't. The atmosphere sounds rather dull, too.
Young looks like he may have to come off after McCleary's studs caught the top of his foot. Michael Carrick looks set to replace him.
Eamonn Dolan's side are back on the attack. McCleary has the ball, but a heavy touch sees Young fly in with a heavy, but fair, tackle. Both players stay on the ground seeking treatment.
Adam Le Fondre
Ashley Young picks up possession near his own penalty area and jinks past McAnuff before being brought down by Robson-Kanu. The break in play allows Reading to make two changes.
Shorey crosses the free kick, but United deal with it rather easily.
This time it is Reading who win a free kick as Anderson fouls McCleary out wide. The Brazilian did not need to make the tackle.
Good play by Anderson as he threads an eye-of-the-needle pass through to Van Persie in the area, but the rather unsharp-looking forward is challenged well by Pearce.
Van Persie tries his luck, but Taylor palms it away to his left.
United win a free kick in a good position after a clumsy tackle on Rooney. Van Persie and the England striker stand over the ball.
Less than a minute later Smalling tries another cross, with time with his favoured right foot, but the result is the same as the previous attempt. Sir Alex Ferguson's side have looked far less impressive down that flank without Rafael.
The hosts are having plenty of possession again now. Rooney plays the ball out to Smalling on the right. The defender puts in a left-footed cross, but Mariappa heads it away.
Reading partially clear United's corner, but the period of play comes to an end as Van Persie's deflected shot goes out for a throw-in.
Buttner skips past a tackle down the left, passes to Young and then continues his run. Young plays a return pass into the area for Buttner, but Karacan puts in a great challenge to concede a corner.
The resulting free kick is poor and Reading get it away with ease, but it doesn't take long for United to be back on the attack.
United finally get out of their own half and Rooney picks out Young to his left, but the winger is halted as Kelly flies in with a rash tackle. The Irishman gets a yellow card.
Yellow CardStephen Kelly
United changes can't be far off. They have not been good in this match, particularly on the wing and in midfield.
Reading's start to the second half has been excellent and they continue to keep United penned in their penalty area.
Risky play by Giggs as he tries to take the ball past Robson-Kanu and Hunt, but he is tackled. The veteran puts his foot in again and gets enough of a touch to divert the ball to Vidic, who in turn puts the ball into touch.
Like the corner that have come before, nothing is created as the ball eventually sails out of play on the far side.
United clear the free kick, but only behind the goal and Reading have a corner.
Buttner and Robson-Kanu clash out on the wing. The defender goes in with a fair tackle, but the Reading man isn't happy with it and appears to lash out with his feet. The referee awards a free kick to the visitors.
Vidic is once again underneath Shorey's corner, but this time there is no follow-up efforts from Reading.
Vidic heads Shorey's corner up into the air, and he then appears to push Mariappa to the ground. Referee waves play on and then Reading get another corner.
Reading go straight on to the front foot as Karacan wins a corner off Alex Buttner. Nicky Shorey to deliver.
Reading start the action for the second half.
What do you think will liven this match up a bit? Should Reading bring on another striker and go for it, or should United introduce an added ball-player in midfield? Tweet your suggestions to @RyanRyanBenson
Arguably one of the worst halves of football seen at Old Trafford this season, but the Manchester United fans won't be complaining as their side take a lead into the break. Wayne Rooney's deflected strike is the difference, but United have been pretty poor generally. They have looked slow on the wings, while their link-up play between midfield and attack has been verging on non-existent.
45' + 1'
Half-time at Old Trafford, and Manchester United lead Reading 1-0 at the break.
United appear to be going nowhere fast as they knock the ball around at the back, and then in comes Hunt with a wild challenge on Smalling. The striker unsurprisingly gets a yellow card.
Yellow CardNoel Hunt
Giggs and Welbeck link up in the middle and then they attempt a clever one-two, but the young forward's back-heel was very poor and Reading take the ball out of defence.
One can't fault Reading's effort, particularly in midfield, but they are struggling to create chances against this lacklustre Manchester United team.
A rare foray into the United area by Reading as Jem Karacan plays an inviting ball across the face of the goal, but Hunt failed to anticipate where the delivery would go. That was a let-off for United.
As before, Reading are letting the hosts have too much time on the ball, and Welbeck twists and turns in the area before getting shot away, but Taylor collects his deflected effort.
Rooney now has seven goals in eight matches at Old Trafford in all competitions so far in 2013. (Opta)
Anderson's confidence looks to be increasing in this match. The Brazilian is involved in attack again as he slides a pass between Kelly and Pearce for Welbeck, but the forward's cut-back is cleared.
McCleary cuts inside Smalling and plays a simple pass into the feet of Hunt. The forward looks short of options but does a step-over and then curls a great strike towards the United goal, but it goes just wide of the top corner.
Anderson and McAnuff challenge each other in the air, but the Jamaican fouls his opponent, giving United possession again. United may have taken a while to grow into the match, but not once have they looked in any kind of trouble.
Next to try his luck from range is Rooney, but again it fails to cause too many problems. Having said that, Reading are now beginning to allow United too much time on the ball, something they prevented very well during the first 15 minutes.
Good play by Welbeck as he surges away from McCleary and then shoots from 25 yards, but his effort goes harmlessly wide.
Reading are trying to settle themselves after a poor few minutes, but after their defence is pressured by United, Taylor hopelessly smashes the ball through to De Gea.
A poor pass from Adrian Mariappa almost gives United second chance in as many minutes. Van Persie retrieves the ball on the left and nearly slips it through for Young to collect in the area, but Kelly once again puts his foot in.
GOAL!!! Manchester United have the lead at Old Trafford! Ferdinand broke free from the back with immense effect, skipping past Mikele Leigertwood before poking the ball through to Rooney whose deflected shot loops over Taylor and into the goal.
Good goalkeeping from Stuart Taylor as he comes out to meet a good pass from Giggs, beating Rooney to it and clearing.
Another nice move, this time coming from the right, involves Welbeck. However, when the striker goes for goal, his volley is slightly scuffed and it sails over the bar.
Finally, United seem to have sparked into life. Danny Welbeck, Anderson and Rooney all combine well just outside the Reading area, but the visitors are standing firm.
A shot! We have had a shot! Ashley Young does well down the left and is faced by Kelly, but instead of trying to beat the defender he uses him as a shield and tries to curl the ball into the bottom car corner. His effort goes narrowly wide and it just too far ahead of Van Persie, too.
The forward's delivery gets into the area, but it is easily headed away by the unchallenged Pearce.
United win a free kick on the left flank and Rooney stands over it.
Anderson tries to get the ball moving in the centre, but Reading have crowded the middle to excellent effect so far, and the Brazilian ends up knocking the ball back to Ferdinand.
Old Trafford is unfortunately very subdued at the moment. If you listen carefully, you can hear Sir Alex Ferguson chewing.
Giggs looks to take United's lack of urgency into his own hands as he gets the ball and drives towards the defence down the left, but Kelly sticks out his foot and halts his charge.
Manchester United's midfield duo of Ryan Giggs and Anderson have hardly had a kick of the ball so far. Reading are doing a good job in possession themselves and certainly aren't being dominated by their hosts. Not yet, anyway.
Clever feet from Gareth McCleary as he produces a step-over and then bursts past Chris Smalling before crossing. However, Rio Ferdinand boots the ball away with ease.
United afford Reading plenty of time on the ball in defence, but Wayne Rooney isn't impressed with that and he does well to block Stephen Kelly's clearance.
Reading play the ball forward and Noel Hunt does well to control the ball before holding off Vidic. The defender forces Hunt out wide and the visitors get a throw-in.
Rather tame opening minutes so far. Neither side has put together a meaningful set of passes yet.
Young, Buttner and Van Persie involve each other down the left, but a heavy pass from the left-back sees the ball go out of play for a Reading throw-in.
We're off at Old Trafford as Man United start the action.
Kick-off seconds away now, with both teams out on the pitch and the captains taking part in the coin toss.
Elliott R says: "Three or 4 to 0 seems a fair prediction... Adam Le Fondre most likely to score if he's brought on." Do the rest of you agree? Don't be afraid to tweet me: @RyanRyanBenson
RIght, kick-off is just a few moments away at Old Trafford, so let's talk predictions! I'm going with a comfortable home win. Scoreline: 4-0. What do you think? Send your thoughts to me on Twitter: @RyanRyanBenson.
United have come out with three points in 14 of their last 16 Premier League matches.
Reading come into this match on the back of five consecutive defeats in all competitions.
The Royals have not beaten Manchester United since 1927 when they triumphed over the Red Devils in the FA Cup.
Following Brian McDermott's sacking, academy coach Eamonn Dolan will take charge of his first match for Reading's senior side today.
Today, David De Gea will play his 50th Premier League match for Man United.
And here is Reading's starting XI: Taylor; Kelly, Pearce, Mariappa, Shorey; Karacan, Leigertwood; McAnuff, McCleary, Robson-Kanu; Hunt. SUBS: McCarthy, Gunter, Le Fondre, Morrison, Harte, Akpan, Blackman
To get the ball rolling, here are the teams. Starting with Manchester United: De Gea; Smalling, Ferdinand, Vidic, Buttner; Welbeck, Anderson, Giggs, Young; Rooney, Van Persie. SUBS: Lindegaard, Carrick, Evans, Valencia, Hernandez, Powell, Kagawa.
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com's live play-by-play for the Premier League matches between Manchester United and Reading. My name is Ryan Benson (@RyanRyanBenson) and I shall be describing the action for you today.
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