When Ashley Westwood’s 13th minute free kick effort flew past David DeGea and into the back of the net, it was déjà vu for Manchester United fans. You could hear the sighs and groans from the Old Trafford fans. This season it has become a tendency for United to concede early on in the first half without much luck of a comeback. Today would have been no exception if it weren’t for the 300k a week man, Wayne Rooney.
In the first half United looked sloppy both defensively and offensively. They were able to create little to no chances and hardly challenged Aston Villa’s goalkeeper Brad Guzan, Villa deserved to take the lead. Villa pounced on the opportunity that was gifted to them by a reckless challenge from Rafael. It is sort of becoming Rafael’s calling card, to make reckless challenges defensively. Ashley Westwood hit the free kick well and though DeGea got a touch on it, it sailed into the back of the net. Not the start David Moyes had wished for.
It seemed the game might end 1-0, with United hardly putting any pressure on Villa. Wayne Rooney had a thing or two to say about the score line. United drove forward looking for the equalizer and as Shinji Kagawa cut in from the left wing he delivered a great ball to a wide open Rooney who’s header guided the ball to the bottom right corner, game on. Even though the goal only put United on level terms it was exactly the goal that the players needed. Suddenly the team looked a little deadlier whilst attacking, though the defense remained disorganized. United’s defense kept creating problems for themselves on simple tasks like a clearance.
United were able to counter on one of Villa’s attacks towards the end of the first half and as Kagawa played the ball into the box to Juan Mata, Mata was brought down. It was a clear goal scoring chance and the referee was right to award a penalty and a yellow card. Rooney stepped up to the penalty spot and smashed with power and precision to bottom right hand corner. Guzan went the right way but it wouldn’t have mattered, it was a great penalty. Suddenly United were up 2-1 at home, in a game where Villa looked promising and United lackluster.
The second half looked to be more of the same when Christian Benteke received the ball one on one with the goalkeeper. Luckily for United fans, Benteke somehow managed to mishit his shot and send the ball out wide. United were still defending poorly and Villa looked the only team with a bit of heart. Benteke had another great chance to equalize where Marc Albrighton produced a lovely cross that was met by the head of Benteke. The ball went just over the goal and again, United were saved.
Against the run of play, in the 57th minute the ball somehow made its way into the box and Marouane Fellaini used his body to shield the ball well and eventually the ball ended up with Juan Mata who let loose a low hard shot that travelled into the bottom left hand corner of the net. It was Mata’s first goal for the club since signing with them in January for 37.5 million pounds. United were now up 3-1 and the Old Trafford faithful were signing again.
After the goal, for the first time in the entire match United genuinely looked confident. They were pressuring Villa and defending well as a unit. It was almost as if there was a different team on the pitch. Apart from a possible penalty and a hint of a chance for Benteke, Villa were neutralized for the rest of the game.
Adnan Januzaj came on in the 68th minute for Shinji Kagawa, and he too provided a spark for Manchester United. Rooney probably should have made it a hat trick on the day after a deep through ball fell to him in the middle of the box. Rooney pulled right and got a shot off but it was blocked. That goal would have sealed the game for United and rounded off an excellent individual performance from Rooney. Minutes later Rooney gave way to Javier Hernandez (Chicharito) and left the pitch with a roar of applause from the fans.
To top it all off Adnan Januzaj combined brilliantly with Chicharito to produce a fourth goal. The 19 year old routinely beat the right back and floated a beautiful cross in to Chicharito who only had to get a touch on it from five yards out, for the ball to slide into the back of the net again. The win was exactly what Manchester United needed after suffering a beating to Manchester rivals, City. Hopefully this win will boost confidence amongst both the players and the manager ahead of United’s clash with already crowned German champions, Bayern Munich.
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