Monday, April 14, 2008

Manchester United march towards the title as the Gunners challenge ends

Manchester United took a giant leap towards retaining their title with a 2-1 win over bitter rivals Arsenal at the Theatre of Dreams. Manchester United knew it was a match that they couldn't afford to slip up while it was a must win game for Arsenal and even a draw would damage their lone title chance of the season. United brought back Ronaldo, Rooney and Scholes to the starting line up while Park was given a place in the 11 for his good show over the last few matches. Rio partnered Pique in the central defence with Brown and Evra as fullbacks. Arsenal had Song in the central defence and Gilberto on for injured Flamini. And Lehman replaced the Almunia.

Arsenal started the match strongly and put United on the back foot. Adebayor had some very good chances to give them the lead but the strikers poor run of late continued as he kept missing the chances he got. United's passing was left a lot to be desired with none of them able to pass the ball that well they had been doing all season. Arsenal were winning the second balls and threatened but Van Der Sar was there to deny them. Rooney had a one on one with Lehman but his shot was saved by Lehman. Hleb was running the show for the gunners with his pace troubling both Pique and Ferdinand. Ronaldo was involved a lot in the first half which clearly belonged to Arsenal.

In the second half Arsenal started as they did in the first half and they got the deserved lead when Van Persie crossed the ball from the left and Adebayor was there to head it in. Ferdinand was there but he left it to keeper who in turn thought the ball would be cleared. There was a doubt over the goal as it appeared the ball had brushed Adebayor's hand on it way. It would have interesting to see Sir Alex's reaction had United not won. And Arsenal pushed on and nearly got their second when Ferdinand's attempt to clear the ball nearly went in but Van Der Sar came to the rescue. And United hit back immediately when the got a penalty for a handball by Gallas. Ronaldo dispatched the penalty which was taken twice to bring United back into the game.

Tevez and Anderson came on for Scholes and Park and United were looking for their second and Arsenal were under pressure after losing their lead. Evra made forays into the box and Rooney had his shot saved. And on 72 minutes United won a free kick in a dangerous area for a foul on Evra. And it was lined up by Hargreaves and Ronaldo. As everyone was Ronaldo to take it Hargreaves stepped up and curled an Inch Perfect free kick into the back of the net. The keeper could only stand and watch as the kick was unstoppable.

The crowd was roaring and so were the players and United looked more organised after the second goal with their passing back to its best and Anderson was doing a fine job in covering the whole pitch. Evra had the measure of Walcott and he was not allowed any space. Bendtner came on and had a few good chances but it was Van Der Sar again who held fort. And in the final minutes United brought in Giggs for Hargreaves. United kept the ball very well in the last few minutes to deny any attacks by Arsenal and closed out the match.

Overall it was a good football match and United were much better in the second half while Arsenal would rue the chances missed in to first. The Red Devils are in a commanding position with a six point lead over Chelsea who play later today. And with only 4 games to go Manchester United look the favourites to retain their crown.

Click here for goals

0-1 Adebayor

1-1 Ronaldo(pen)

2-1 Hargreaves


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