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Manchester United (Ronaldo 14′ 80′, Macheda 90′ + 3) 3-2 Aston Villa (Carew 30′, Agbonlahor 58′)
Stadium: Old Trafford, England
Competition: English Premier League
Date: 5 April 2009
Kickoff: 15:00 GMT, 11:00 ET
Manchester United pulled off a furious rally to come-from-behind against a determined Aston Villa squad! Soccerlens brought you the action live! Click below for the live-blog and feel free to leave comments below!
Perhaps no two teams in the Premiership were happier to see the international break than Manchester United and Aston Villa. Both teams are slumping at the worst possible moment and could see their aspirations go up in smoke with another setback. As such, the stakes for this confrontation couldn’t be higher.
For Manchester United, they’re coming off consecutive League defeats to Liverpool and Fulham, and have looked nothing like the dominant, balanced juggernaut that had been threatening to turn the Premiership title race into a cakewalk. Their defense has been breached for six goals during those above-mentioned losses, and they’ve given up eight goals in their last four matches after going 14 matches without conceding anything. Their offense has been struggling as well, as the only goal they’ve scored in the last two matches has been a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty shot in the early stages of the Liverpool match. Since that goal, they’ve given up six unanswered goals and have had three players sent off: Nemanja Vidic, Paul Scholes, and Wayne Rooney (all of whom will miss this match). They’ll need every ounce of their talent, poise, and experience if they want to weather the storm, especially with the form that second-place Liverpool are in.
As for Aston Villa, they seem to be running out of steam at the worst possible time. They’ve lost three straight and four out of their last five Premiership matches. Their defense, which stymied Manchester United the last time these two teams met, has given up 12 goals in their last 5 Premiership matches, including a whopping five to Liverpool two weekends ago. They’ve lost their grip on fourth-place and are in danger of falling even further off the pace.
Add that to the fact that Villa haven’t won at Old Trafford since 1983, and the odds are looking pretty steep for Aston Villa if they want to reclaim that all-important fourth spot from Arsenal. They won’t be getting their captain, Martin Laursen, back as originally anticipated. However, with Brad Friedel’s red card against Liverpool rescinded, they’ll have their number one back between the posts. Friedel, who always seems to turn into Mr. Fantastic against Manchester United, will hope to bounce back after one of his worst afternoons ever (and for someone that played during some lean years for the U.S. National Team, that’s saying something).
Will United get back on track and push Aston Villa further down the table? Or will Villa take advantage of United’s poor form and get their groove back? Tune in and find out!
Manchester United: Van der Sar, Neville (c), O’Shea, Evans, Evra, Nani, Carrick, Fletcher, Ronaldo, Giggs, Tevez.
Subs: Foster, Park, Welbeck, Gibson, Martin, Macheda, Eckersley.
As expected, Berbatov will miss out with an injury that he sustained against Fulham a couple weekends ago. Ferdinand is also out, having injured himself on international duty. That could be trouble for the center-back tandem of Evans and O’Shea, especially with Carew lurking in the box. Neville returns for United in his first action in a couple of months. Nani and Fletcher will come in for Park and the suspended Scholes. Tevez will start, despite playing 90 minutes in high altitude on Wednesday.
Aston Villa: Friedel, L. Young, Cuellar, Davies, Shorey, Milner, Petrov, Barry (c), A. Young, Carew, Agbonlahor.
Subs: Guzan, Delfouneso, Knight, Salifou, Reo-Coker, Gardner, Albrighton.
As expected, no Heskey for Villa, as he is still injured from the Slovakia match. Big John Carew (that’s how the announcers always refer to him – I like it and think he should legally change his name to that) will start in his place. Reo-Coker looks like the scapegoat from the 5-0 beatdown at the hands of Liverpool. He’s replaced in the lineup by Shorey. Friedel’s rescinded red card means that he can continue his Premiership record consecutive starts streak.
90′ + 6 There’s the whistle and we’re done! What a cracker of a match! See you on Tuesday for the Champions League!
90′ + 5 Wow! You talk about gambles and you talk about brass balls, Sir Alex Ferguson may have just pulled off a brilliant coup! Macheda may have just won a lifetime’s worth of free beer from most of Manchester’s finest pubs.
90′ + 4 Macheda gets booked for excessive celebration, but I doubt he cares about that. All hyperbole aside, that was a brilliant goal for anyone, let alone a 17-year old kid making his senior-team debut.
90′ + 3 GOAL! WOW! I don’t know what to say! Giggs flicks it to Macheda, and the youngster makes an absolutely brilliant move in the box as he has his back to the goal, he turns to his left and fires a shot that just eludes Friedel and tucks inside the far post! Can’t ask for a better debut than that! What a huge goal!
90′ + 1 Evra wins a corner and United fans are starting to believe again. Giggs sends in the corner, but it’s out to Neville. He gives it away to Agbonlahor, but his pass to A. Young is cleared away.
90′ Another good chance for United as Neville sends a long cross from the left to the far post, but it just eludes Evans. Five minutes will be added on, and that’s great news for United. Unless Villa scores, of course. That seems like a lot of time, actually.
89′ Welbeck with a great chance as Davies falls down in his path. He tries to shoot, but Friedel makes a great save to concede the corner.
88′ Tevez is off for Welbeck. Should we read anything into the fact that Macheda came on before Welbeck? A. Young does well to hold it down the right flank. He wins a throw-in, but United get it right back.
87′ Carew gets in deep down the right flank, but his cross is deflected into Van der Sar’s hands. Welbeck looks like he’s coming on for United. Fletcher with a great play to take it away from Barry. He sets up Ronaldo for a great chance on goal, but it’s just over the crossbar.
85′ Agbonlahor gets it down the right, but a poor cross gives it back to United.
84′ Fletcher with a great chance as Macheda wins it in the box and sends it to Giggs. He tees up Fletcher and his shot forces a great save from Friedel. It’s out for a corner. Ronaldo rises to meet the corner, but it’s out for a goal-kick. They show Ronaldo’s goal again, and it looks like it goes through Petrov’s legs and just beats Friedel into the lower right-hand corner.
83′ Shorey with a good run into the box. Too good as he overruns the ball. Tevez is back to take it away. Carrick finds Ronaldo down the right flank, and he wins a throw.
82′ Let’s see if Villa continue to press or if they get deflated from giving up that goal. They’ve had success with crosses into the center of the box, so let’s see if they continue to do that.
80′ GOAL! Ashley Young is booked for dissent. He was upset at a no-call on a ball out of bounds. United attack and Villa have trouble clearing. It’s out to Ronaldo on the edge of the box, and he sends a powerful, low shot that beats Friedel! Wow! Game on!
78′ Giggs with some hard work down the left flank, and he wins a throw-in for his troubles. Evra gets shoved by Cuellar, but no foul called. He wins a corner, though, and we’ll see what they can do here. O’Shea heads it on goal, but it lacks pace and Friedel handles it easily.
76′ Villa make a change as Milner comes off for Reo-Coker. Milner takes his time meandering off the pitch, but Riley has his eye on the watch. Corner is headed up for grabs a few times, but Friedel is fouled by Tevez.
75′ Ashley Young sends it in, but Van der Sar punches it away. Tevez takes a long-range shot after Macheda does well to keep it from going out past the touchline. It’s deflected out for a corner.
73′ Villa counterattack and United are stretched. Poor pass from Petrov, though, and Carew can’t get to it. United go on the counterattack, and Tevez goes down on the edge of the box. No call and Villa break again. Agbonlahor gets fouled by O’Shea deep down the left wing, and Villa will have a good free kick chance here.
72′ Neville sends a pass through towards Ronaldo, but he gets his signals crossed with Macheda, and it’s out for a goal-kick.
71′ Tevez with a great ball through to Macheda down the left. He hangs a cross that finds Giggs on the right edge of the box. Villa recover and knock it away from danger.
69′ Giggs wins a corner, and let’s see what they can do with it. Evans gets a header, but it’s just over the crossbar.
67′ Pass into the box to Ronaldo, and he’s momentarily unmarked. He can’t get his shot off, though, and he tries to thread it to, no one in particular. Cross goes into the box for Macheda, and he lunges for it. He wants a penalty, and Barry has none of it. He forcibly pulls Macheda up and they exchange words. It wasn’t a dive, but it would have been a really soft penalty if it had been given.
64′ It’s not a disaster if United lose, since they still have that game in hand. Still, they’re in big-time trouble here, and to pretend otherwise would be pure denial. Meanwhile, Tevez is called for a foul on Barry, and the soon-to-be Liverpool player is down on the pitch in pain. He goes to the sidelines to get treatment and should be back soon.
63′ Tevez tries to thread a pass to Macheda, but it’s cleared by the Villa defense.
62′ Tevez gets mauled again by Cuellar, but Tevez is called for the foul.
61′ Federico Macheda, who is only 17, will make his debut in place of Nani. Wow. That’s how far United have fallen. Calling on someone who was playing for the reserves. How do you feel if you’re Nani? Getting replaced by a 17 year old making his debut?
60′ Nani sends a cross from the left flank to the far post, but Friedel is out to punch it away from Tevez. He takes out his own teammate and it looks like Cuellar is the one that’s hurting.
58′ GOAL! Ronaldo gives it away needlessly, and Petrov gets it. He lays it off to Carew, who lifts a great cross from the left flank into the center of goal where Agbonlahor heads it past Van der Sar! Agbonlahor looks like he might be hurt, but he’s not nearly hurting as much as United are right now. What a goal!
56′ Really terrible pass from Evra short-circuits a United attack and Evans has to head it out to stop the Villa counterattack.
55′ Another offside flag, this time on Agbonlahor. That one looked correct.
54′ Nice long through-ball from Giggs to Tevez. It’s long, but Tevez does enough to win the throw. Ronaldo gets it and tries to send a long cross from the left wing to the far post, but Friedel takes it. Meanwhile, A. Young gets behind the defense, but he’s ruled offside. On the replay, it looks like he was clearly onside, and United dodge a huge bullet.
53′ Fletcher is called for the foul and L. Young sends in the free kick from 45 yards out. Carew tries to flick a header across goal, but O’Shea heads it away from danger.
52′ Neville throws it into the box and Ronaldo tries to win it in the air. It bounces out to Fletcher, but he can’t control it and it’s out for a goal-kick.
51′ Tevez wins the ball from Cuellar down the right flank that he really had no business winning. Ronaldo gets it in the box, and he is called for a foul on L. Young. Ronaldo is upset about that call, and he’s starting to get worked up a bit.
50′ Shorey goes to ground and he wants a foul on Fletcher. No call and it looks like Mike Riley is letting them play.
47′ Ronaldo goes to ground and he is limping a little bit. Or he’s selling the injury. No foul, though.
46′ United kick off and we’re underway. Ferguson is having an animated discussion with Mike Phelan as they emerge from the tunnel. I wonder if the words “Carlos Queiroz is coming back if we lose this match” were uttered. Long pass to Tevez, but Cuellar grabs everything short of Tevez’s face to hold him up. Tevez can’t believe that there was no foul given, and neither can I, quite frankly.
46′ Aston Villa had a 55%-45% edge in possession in the first half. They had 5 shots on goal as opposed to United’s 2. That tells you what you need to know about this match.
It was an exciting first-half for what is shaping up to be a match of monumental importance for each of the top 5 teams in the Premiership. On the balance of play, the scoreline is probably accurate, as the teams have been fairly evenly matched throughout the first-half. In fact, you could argue that Villa outplayed Manchester United for most of the first half and that United are lucky to be even right now. Ronaldo’s goal was certainly brilliant, however Manchester United didn’t generate too many other meaningful chances on goal, which is a cause for concern. Villa had several chances, and Carew took full advantage of United’s depleted defense. It will be interesting to see how both teams adjust in the second half.
45′ + 1 Giggs sends it in and Evans gets a free header. It’s off target, though, and Villa go on the counter-attack. L. Young sends a low cross from the right, but Van der Sar takes it. There’s the whistle and we’re at halftime!
45′ Ronaldo gets it down the left, and his pass is deflected out for a corner.
44′ Milner takes a long-range shot, but it deflects off Evans for a corner. Barry’s corner is poor as it doesn’t get past the first man. Barry tries to send it in again, but Van der Sar cuts it out.
43′ Promising United buildup is short-circuited by a poor Giggs pass. Carrick gets it back and tries a long range shot, but it’s over the crossbar.
42′ Milner’s cross trickles dangerous across the box and falls to Carew. He tries to get his shot off, but it’s cleared away from danger.
41′ Nani shows off the kind of shot-selection and discipline that have endeared him to the Old Trafford faithful as he belts a shot from way out that isn’t even close to the mark.
40′ A. Young gets some room to shoot, but his shot is blocked. Milner sends a dangerous cross into the box for Big John Carew, but Neville gets it away.
37′ Carrick lifts a long-pass towards the hard-charging Neville, but it’s long and out for a goal-kick. Here’s a worrisome stat for United fans. They haven’t scored a Premiership goal in open play since the 56th minute of the Newcastle match.
36′ A. Young tries a shot from long-range and it’s into Van der Sar’s hands for the easy save.
35′ A. Young makes the run down the left and he centers it to Milner. He tries from long-range, but Van der Sar makes the comfortable save.
34′ Nani with a great delivery on the free kick from about 40 yards out. Ronaldo gets a free header, but it’s right into Friedel’s hands.
32′ Carrick tries a shot from long-range, but it’s deflected softly towards Friedel. Carew gets it in the box again, but he’s all alone. Some calm defending from United this time, and Van der Sar kicks it away.
30′GOAL What was I saying? Barry sends a great cross as he gets away from Evra and Evans down the right flank. Carew is standing in front of goal and he easily flicks a header past a helpless Van der Sar. Neville did a terrible job marking Carew there, and the big man made him pay.
29′ Van der Sar intercepts the corner and rockets a pass to Tevez. He tries to hold it up, but he loses possession of it. This was where United started to struggle in the Liverpool match. They made a few sloppy plays and they were soon looking at a huge deficit.
28′ Giggs with the poor pass now, and Agbonlahor has Neville right he wants him. However, Neville is able to get it out of bounds and give his defense a chance to regroup. Neville then gives away the corner, so it’s not all good news for the skipper.
27′ Carrick gives it away in his own half and it could be a terrible howler. However, Milner is called offside, and that saves Carrick’s blushes.
25′ Agbonlahor breezes past Neville down the left and he sends a cross to Carew in front of goal. Van der Sar cuts it out, though, and takes a slight knock on his head for his troubles.
24′ Friedel with a poor clearance (two weeks in a row for him – that’s rare) and Nani has it from about 40 yards out. I’m surprised he doesn’t shoot it since Friedel was in no-man’s land. He tries to set up Giggs, but Villa’s defense recovers and knocks it away.
23′ Luke Young with a hard foul on Nani, and Riley calls him over for a little talking-to.
21′ Nothing doing on the corner as Davies is called for a foul in the box. Ronaldo is changing his shoes on the sidelines. No, he’s not putting on stilettos or pumps. Nani with a good cross into the box, but Fletcher is facing the wrong way and he can’t do anything with it.
20′ Will it be Barry or A. Young? A. Young takes it and it’s a fine effort! Van der Sar gets a paw on it and he knocks it out for a corner!
19′ Petrov goes down in the box, and is it a penalty? No, Fletcher is adjudged to have fouled him on the edge of the box. Let’s see what Villa can do with this, though.
17′ Shorey gives it back to Friedel, and he takes great pains to use his chest. Meanwhile, Nani is down on the ground is holding his, uh, Junior Nani.
16′ Giggs’ corner is cleared out by Villa, but Agbonlahor is called for the foul in his own half, and United will retain possession.
15′ Long pass to Giggs, who gets into the box. Cuellar is able to knock it out for a corner before Giggs can do any damage with it. Old Trafford is rocking now!
14′ GOAL! It’s a rugby scrum in the box, and Milner gets booked. Giggs taps it to Ronaldo, who goes for goal and he puts it into the top right corner! Wow! What a strike! That was absolutely brilliant!
13′ It’s always hard to score on these, since there’s so many in the box, but I believe Villa scored on one earlier in the year.
12′ United with some pressure and Milner makes the mistake with the backpass to Friedel. Indirect free kick to United in the box.
10′ Carew tries to flick his header to Agbonlahor, who is well marked by Evans. He puts too much on it and Agbonlahor can’t make a play on it. Van der Sar comes out and takes it easily.
9′ Giggs gets in the box, but his shot is easily blocked by Milner. It’s been all Villa so far.
8′ Agbonlahor does well against Neville and he sends a dangerous cross across the face of the goal. His teammates can’t get to it, though, otherwise that would have been a good chance.
7′ Carrick tries to chip it into Ronaldo’s path, but it’s just behind him. Carrick’s certainly got something to prove, going up against Barry. I wonder if Capello is in the house.
6′ Ronaldo gets his first touch and he plays some keepy-uppy. Barry isn’t amused, though, and he takes it away.
4′ More pressure from Villa as Shorey makes a good run into the box and his cross to Carew is knocked out for a corner by Evans. Carew nearly heads it in on the corner, but Fletcher clears it off the line! Actually, it looks like he deflected if into the post with his body. At least he didn’t use his hands like Scholes did against Fulham. Wow! What a start for Villa.
3′ Early worry for United as A. Young sends a dangerous cross from the left flank to the far post where Agbonlahor lurks. Van der Sar comes out and punches it away with authority, though.
2′ Long pass from Barry to A. Young down the left flank, but he’s ruled off-side.
1′ Villa kicks off and we’re underway! Mike Riley is our ref. Let’s hope we don’t have to utter his name too many times today. Two quick fouls on United and it looks like Riley has already made his presence felt. That didn’t take long.
0′ Depending on which of England’s fine newspapers you read, Ronaldo is all but set to leave United after this season. Manchester United have all but given up hope on retaining him, and Franck Ribery should be on his way to save the day. Obviously, you can’t believe all the rumors, but let’s face it, Ronaldo has looked disinterested at times (and that’s putting it nicely) and has been nothing like the brilliant goalscorer he was last season. The pressure will be on him to play well today, especially with Rooney and Berbatov out. If he does more of what he did against Fulham, then I think we can safely assume that he’s already got one eye on the Bernabeu.
0′ The more I look at those lineups, the less I like Manchester United’s chances in this one. I’m going to predict a 1-1 draw.
0′ I’m not liking the matchup down the right flank for Manchester United. It’ll be the speedy Ashley Young going against “veteran” Gary Neville. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sir Alex switches Nani over to that flank because we know Ronaldo ain’t going to track back and help out. This is where Park would have come in handy, actually.
0′ Bad news for United fans. Rio Ferdinand will miss out. That, combined with Vidic’s suspension means that it could be a great day for Carew and Agbonlahor. I’m sure Villa really wishes they had Laursen back, especially on those corners.
0′ I still don’t understand what Rafa Benitez’s fascination with Barry is all about. He has a perfectly good player who plays a similar style and (probably) costs a whole lot less in Xabi Alonso. Oh, and Alonso has been light years better than Barry this season. I’ve covered several of Aston Villa’s big matches this season, and Barry has often been a non-factor. Maybe Benitez has a man-crush on him.
0′ Villa seem to have the same problem that Everton did last season. They’re running out of steam at the very end of the season, and they don’t have the kind of squad depth that teams like Manchester United, Liverpool, or Chelsea have to let them weather the storm. They can probably kiss Gareth Barry goodbye if they don’t make the Champions League next year.
0′ It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of this match for both teams. With Liverpool and Chelsea both winning yesterday, Manchester United absolutely must win this match in order to keep pace in the title race. Meanwhile, Arsenal’s continued good form has put Villa in a must-win situation if they want to snag that precious fourth-place spot. Additionally, from a psychological perspective, both teams need a good result here in light of their recent run of poor form.
0′ Welcome to Soccerlens’ live coverage of the huge Manchester United v. Aston Villa match! I’m Victor and I’ll be your liveblogger! This match is on Fox Soccer Channel and on Sky Sports. For those of you without access to either of those fine stations, you can watch the match on Veetle.com. Feel free to consult this guide for information about using Veetle.
It was one of the best matches you’ll ever see and it’s almost a shame that Villa didn’t get the point that they definitely deserved. It was a heartbreaker for Martin O’Neill’s men, although they can certainly build on their effort today as they get ready for the final slate of matches. They played much better than they have during this last month, and they have every reason to feel proud of themselves, even though they didn’t get the result that they deserved.
Some question marks remain for them, namely how their defense got breached twice in the span of 15 minutes after holding United at bay for most of the afternoon. Friedel had another iffy-day in goal, although there was nothing he could have done about Ronaldo’s first goal or Macheda’s brilliant game-winner. Additionally, some may question Villa’s tactics, as they had great success coming down the left against Neville and then lifting crosses into the box for Carew or Agbonlahor, but went away from doing that after getting the second goal. They seemed content to sit on the 2-1 lead and even to play for the tie after Ronaldo equalized. Martin O’Neill will probably rue his decision to get conservative in the closing stages of the match.
As for United, what can you say? They’ll definitely feel good about themselves after snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. They can also point to their injuries and suspensions as to why they played so poorly until the end of the match. However, they have a lot of questions to answer, especially in the back where the defense was mediocre once again. They struggled to create goals and had to rely on two moments of individual brilliance in order to get the result. Neville and Giggs had their moments, but they both looked like their best days were clearly behind them, and Ferdinand’s absence was huge. Carrick struggled to get involved and Fletcher was a nonfactor until the end, when he suddenly came to life. Ronaldo showed again, why he can be so brilliant, and confounding. His error led to Aston Villa’s go-ahead goal, but both of his goals were nothing short of world-class. Getting their full team back will definitely help them (as will their upcoming schedule – they have matches against Sunderland, Pompey, Tottenham, and Middlesbrough – although the Spurs match will be difficult).
Man of the Match:
That’s right! I was so shocked to see his name on the subs list that I kept calling him “Lyoto Macheda.” And you could argue that Ronaldo deserves the honor with his brace. Or that Barry, who finally played well in a big game deserves the honor in the losing effort. However, considering the circumstances (United about to drop points at home with Liverpool and Chelsea playing their best football of the year), the fact that he was making his debut with the senior team, and the absolutely brilliant maneuver that he executed in injury time, no less. He did more than just score the goal, as he made several good plays up front and United seemed to play better once he came in for the underwhelming Nani (who continues to regress by the week). What a debut for Federico Macheda! If he does nothing else with his career, at least he’ll always have this day.