Manchester United 1 – 0 Birmingham City
GOAL: Rooney (34 mins)
Man United: Foster; Fabio, O’Shea, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Fletcher, Scholes, Nani; Rooney, Berbatov
Subs: Giggs for Nani HT., Owen for Berbatov, Brown for Evans (73 mins)
Birmingham: Hart, Carr, Johnson, Queudrue, Vignal, Larsson, Ferguson, Carsley, Fahey, Jerome, McFadden
Subs: Benitez for Carsley (73 mins), James O’Shea for Larsson (80 mins)
It will be interesting to see if Barry Ferguson can cut it this time in the Premier League, with his Glasgow Rangers bridge somewhat burnt. Vignal is a former Kop flop, Joe Hart can be impressive; if only by City and England standards. Fahey did well last season; if only in the fizzy leagues. Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick missed out today for United
In the early going United kept the ball well and Rooney brought a good save from Hart, Berbatov looked bright and Nani had a couple of shots, one good one and one that was far from brilliant Fabio decided he would have a go and breaking through with a cross that worried Hart in the visiting goal. United got nothing on that occasion but enough to show that the goal wasn’t far away. When it came it was Wayne Rooney with ease from close range, tidying up after his header had rebounded off the post.
The ‘man on the post’ debate is an intriguing one. United do often put a body there and we can be thankful that they did as Patrice Evra’s block on the line from a header kept Birmingham at bay. United could have gone in 2:0 up, Nani and Evra combined well on the left before Evra cut the ball back and it looked odds on a goal for Darren Fletcher. As the teams left the pitch for half time, Fletch was still wondering how he missed the target.
Birmingham popped up occasionally in the second half to show something; Stephen Carr’s cross looked to worry the United defence but that man Evra was there again and Foster dealt with it easily, Fahey brought a save from our ‘keeper with a low shot and McFadden also had an effort. United needed the second goal. Ryan Giggs found Rooney about 25 yards from goal before Vignal clattered into the striker. Rooney and Giggs then discussed options over the free kick, in the end the shot was Giggs’ and it was close.
Dimitar Berbatov was replaced by Michael Owen in the 73rd minute but the departing striker can be happy with his contribution, especially a header from Fabio’s cross which met with a Birmingham defender yes, you guessed….on the line! Stephen Carr trod on Berbatov’s foot and grounded him in the area but the striker didn’t claim and no penalty was given.
At the other end Christian Benitez drew a good save from Ben Foster after being found free and clear in the United half. The newly promoted side seemed to grow in confidence as the clock ticked on. Wayne Rooney tried to end the contest with a header, and Valencia cut through the defence with a run but his final ball was not good enough despite Michael Owen’s attempt to keep it in play. Owen’s best chance of his first United goal came just before the final whistle. Foster’s long kick from the other end of the pitch, Wayne Rooney chests the ball onto Owen and the Birmingham ‘keeper makes the save. The game ends 1-0.
Ben Foster kept a clean sheet which will give him confidence, Birmingham certainly didn’t roll over and die. Patrice Evra had a good game and Johnny Evans looked solid before his removal due to an injury which may worry the manager. Wayne Rooney showed good link up play with both Berbatov and Michael Owen and at the end of the day it’s a win and three points. Bam, said the lady… GtS