Manchester United will return home from Spain after a hard-earned three points from the Mestalla.
At times cagey, and at time just plain dull, this game of few chances for the Reds was the one that fans recognised as being the toughest of the group. As the team sheet rolled out, the biggest standpoints were the returns of Ferdinand, Rafael, Carrick and Anderson. Valencia are a team in good form, finding themselves at the top of La Liga with four wins out of five. Sir Alex employed his usual five man midfield for this game in order to counter the offensive prowess of the Spanish side.
The game began in unspectacular fashion, and fans got a taster of what most of the match was going to be like — sloppy passing and concentrated in midfield. United got the first sight at goal when Berbatov glided past two Valencia defenders two unleash a 30-yard strike, which just went past César’s goal. The hosts were threatening with more regularity however, with Pablo Hérnandez and Miguel causing Park and Evra some problems down the right side. Fletcher and Carrick were finding it difficult to control the game in the centre of the field, though both sides were guilty of giving the ball away needlessly. Undoubtedly the best chance of the first half fell to the home side. Domínguez marauded down the left-hand side and floated in a lovely cross that van der Sar misjudged, but new signing Soldado, facing an open goal, somehow headed over.
The second half resumed in much the same manner. Pablo still posed a threat, and came close to opening the scoring with a rasping left-footed shot that flew past the post. Berbatov once again was the United who came closest to scoring. The Bulgarian controlled a long pass from Fletcher, and did well to get past the right back. As he ran into the box, from a tight angle, drove a shot towards the near post that César did well to turn away.
The stalemate was crying out for a piece of magic from a player — but ultimately, came from some inspired management from Sir Alex Ferguson. Our own Hernández and Macheda came on to replace Anderson and Berbatov, and the two substitutes managed to put United ahead in the 85th minute. Nani broke free on the right, and found Macheda in space, who in turn passed it to Chicharito. The Mexican, after a brilliant first touch, finished magnificently with his left foot, into the bottom corner of the net. The goal came at a great time, and there were just five minutes of normal time to go.
As expected, Valencia went full-pelt for the remainder of the game, sending cross after cross into the box, but the combination of Ferdinand and Vidic was determined not let go of the clean sheet. In the end, there were no real scares, and United gained there massive points in the group.
There are a lot of positives to be taken from the match, despite that the fact that it was quite a dull affair for a lot of the time. Anderson played well, and was the attacking force for the United midfield. Ferdinand’s return was such a welcome one back in defence, and looked sharp alongside Vidic. The right back position has been slightly problematic this season, and Rafael looked solid in both defence and attack against a strong Valencia attack. Although Fletcher and Carrick didn’t perform to the best of their ability, they did well to limit Valencia’s attacking threats down the middle. Some fans were frustrated with the performance of Park, seemingly unable to penetrate the Valencia defence, but he did well in the job he was asked to do in the second half — to stop Pablo from attacking as much. Finally, Macheda and Hernández looked sharp after coming on, and the latter showed his brilliance with his winning goal.
Onwards to Saturday, where Steve Bruce’s Sunderland will certainly provide a tough test for United. Ahem — anything but a draw, please!
Best Moment: Chicho’s winner
Worst Moment: All of the first half
Man of the Match: Anderson
Written by Sownak27