Month: October 2016

Blind: It’s hard to believe we didn’t score

30/10/2016 09:41, Report by Zarah Connolly

Daley Blind admitted Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Burnley was “frustrating” but the defender feels Manchester United’s performance was still encouraging.

The Reds racked up 37 shots in the match, the team’s highest tally of goalscoring attempts in any Premier League game since Opta records began in 2003/04, but could not find a way past former United goalkeeper Tom Heaton.

Blind said: “I think we helped him [Heaton] because we missed some chances – he gained confidence from that and got into the game. He’s a good goalkeeper but in spite of that, we should have scored a goal.”

United had 72 per cent of the possession and the Dutchman believes there is not much more the team could have done in terms of general play.

“I think the team performance was positive and we had a lot of energy,” assessed Blind.

“We created chances and I think we also did well in defence, we didn’t give much away. We were on top of them. We didn’t give them any space.

“We played attacking football and I think that’s what the people want to see. The only thing is we had to finish. It was a bit frustrating [not to score].”

Blind was happy with the strength the team showed after his team-mate Ander Herrera received a second yellow card and was sent off in the 68th minute.

“Of course, with a sending off, it always makes it a bit more difficult, but we could manage it,” said Daley.

“Even when we had 10 men, Burnley were so much back into their own box and we created a few chances. It sounds like I am repeating myself but I think that was the story of the game.”

The Reds kept fighting for a goal throughout the 90 minutes and beyond with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney both having opportunities to score in injury time.

Blind concluded: “It is hard to believe we didn’t score one goal. I hope it’s just one of those days because we have some great strikers and some great midfielders who can score goals well. I’m not worried about that. I will try to see it as one of those days.”

Manchester United 1 Manchester City 0

26/10/2016 21:59, Report by Adam Higgins

EFL Cup | Old Trafford | Attendance: 74,196 | Scorer: Mata 54′

Juan Mata’s second-half strike proved enough to book Manchester United’s place in the EFL Cup quarter-finals with victory over holders Manchester City at Old Trafford.

The Spaniard’s intelligent finish soon after the break ensured the Reds exacted revenge for last month’s defeat to City in the Premier League by taking the bragging rights in a lively 173rd Manchester derby at the Theatre of Dreams.

The Reds will now face fellow top-flight side West Ham United – as they did in the last eight of the FA Cup on the way to lifting the trophy last season – at home next month.

Jose Mourinho didn’t opt for wholesale changes as he did in the last round against Northampton, making four changes from Sunday’s four-goal defeat at Stamford Bridge as Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Michael Carrick and Mata came in for Chris Smalling, the injured Eric Bailly, Marouane Fellaini and Jesse Lingard.

In contrast, opposite number Pep Guardiola fulfilled his promise to rotate, with nine alterations for the second round in a row after their success at Swansea last month – only captain Vincent Kompany and Leroy Sane kept their places from the draw with Southampton last weekend.

As they did at Old Trafford last month, City began in a menacing mood and, within the first minute, Kelechi Iheanacho almost scored for the second successive derby but couldn’t direct his close-range header on target from a Jesus Navas cross.

The visitors continued to threaten and claimed for a penalty on 10 minutes when Aleix Garcia stumbled in the box under pressure from Reds skipper Carrick but referee Mike Dean ignored the appeals.

United struggled to trouble the City defence early on but Zlatan Ibrahimovic caused panic with a 20-yard free-kick, which deflected behind for a corner, after Mata was brought down by Nicolas Otamendi.

The lively affair many were hoping for under the floodlights began to materialise as the first half wore on, with Iheanacho and Antonio Valencia both receiving yellow cards for strong challenges, but both teams lacked the cutting thrust in the final third to open each other up.

Ibrahimovic saw a shot deflect off Otamendi over the crossbar after Shaw combined well with Marcus Rashford, who moments later found his route to goal blocked by Pablo Maffeo after momentarily escaping clear of the City defence.

At the other end, Iheanacho then looked to have a similar clear run at goal after Sane seized upon Daley Blind’s stray pass but Rojo charged across to make a fine intervention and bail out his team-mate as neither side could make the breakthrough in a closely-contested opening 45.

HALF-TIME STATS
Possession: United 52% City 48%
Shots: United 3 City 2
Shots on target: United 0 United 0
Corners: United 3 City 1

After both goalkeepers had precious little to do in the first half, City keeper Willy Caballero made a stunning save to push Paul Pogba’s low effort onto the post after the Frenchman was played in by Ibrahimovic.

But the Reds continued to apply pressure and got the decisive opening goal nine minutes after the break. Ibrahimovic’s cutback from the left evaded Ander Herrera who collided with Fernando and, as the Reds screamed for a penalty, Mata kept his composure to stroke home into the bottom corner.

City injected additional firepower by introducing Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero in place of Sane and Nolito; however, it was the Reds who probed in search of a second goal as Rashford’s pace caused problems before he was withdrawn late on.

The visitors pursued an equaliser in the closing stages but the closest they came was when Aleksandar Kolarov, who replaced Kompany at half-time for the visitors, fired a free-kick over the crossbar from 25 yards.

Pogba almost gave the scoreline a more comfortable look in stoppage time when racing through the middle from Carrick’s pass but Caballero was alert to the danger.

It wasn’t quite as dramatic as the sides’ last League Cup showdown in 2010 but United, who return to Premier League action against Burnley on Saturday, will take confidence and satisfaction from knocking out their fierce rivals at the end of a tough run of four games in the space of 10 days.

FULL-TIME STATS
Possession: United 48% City 52%
Shots: United 8 City 5
Shots on target: United 2 United 0
Corners: United 4 City 3

THE TEAMS:

United: De Gea; Valencia, Blind, Rojo, Shaw; Carrick (c), Herrera; Mata (Schneiderlin 73), Pogba, Rashford (Lingard 81); Ibrahimovic. Subs not used: Romero, Darmian, Young, Fellaini, Memphis.

Booked: Valencia, Pogba, Ibrahimovic

City: Caballero; Maffeo, Otamendi, Kompany (c) (Kolarov 45), Clichy; Fernando, Garcia; Nolito (Aguero 71), Navas, Sane (Sterling 63); Iheanacho. Subs not used: Gunn, Adarabioyo, Gundogan, Fernandinho.

Booked: Iheanacho

Chelsea 4 Manchester United 0

23/10/2016 17:50, Report by Gemma Thompson

Premier League | Stamford Bridge | Attendance: 41,424 | Scorers: Pedro 1, Cahill 22, Hazard 62, Kante 70

It proved to be a Stamford Bridge return for Jose Mourinho to forget as the Reds boss saw his Manchester United side beaten 4-0 by former team Chelsea.

The hosts netted the fastest goal of the Premier League season, after just 30 seconds, through Pedro who made the most of a defensive mix-up and slotted home. Gary Cahill fired a second on 22 minutes from a corner, before Eden Hazard added a third just after the hour-mark by finishing off a neat move from Chelsea. N’Golo Kante completed the scoring with a fine solo effort after 70 minutes on a really disappointing day for the Reds.

Mourinho had set his stall out in much the same fashion as United approached the visit to Anfield, with just the one change to that side as Jesse Lingard, who netted a screamer in this fixture last season, replaced Ashley Young, who was named among the substitutes.

In total there were six alterations from the side which demolished Fenerbahce on Thursday night, with Antonio Valencia, Daley Blind, Marouane Fellaini, Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera and Zlatan Ibrahimovic coming in for Matteo Darmian, Luke Shaw, Michael Carrick, Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial. Club captain Rooney missed the match entirely due to an injury picked up in training.

United got off to the worst possible start when a long ball forward caused a mix-up between Chris Smalling and Daley Blind which allowed Pedro to nip in front of the onrushing David De Gea and slot into an empty net.

The shell-shocked Reds needed a response and almost got one on eight minutes when Zlatan Ibrahimovic rose to meet an excellent Valencia cross from the right, but the striker couldn’t keep his header down.

Chelsea looked a threat almost every time they attacked and corners were proving difficult for United to deal with. Victor Moses played a short one to Pedro and when he fired a pass to the unmarked Eden Hazard in the box, the Belgian sent a low drive narrowly wide. On 22 minutes the hosts doubled their lead through captain Gary Cahill. Hazard’s corner was not dealt with and after the ball bounced off Ander Herrera, it dropped to Cahill who smashed the ball into the net via Blind.

Mourinho’s men, who had decent spells of possession in the opening period, didn’t let their heads drop and after Rashford had a shot blocked from Ibrahimovic’s knockdown, Herrera forced a good save from Thibaut Courtois, who also kept put Lingard’s follow-up. Between those chances, De Gea cleared a Pedro cross with his legs as Chelsea tried to build on their advantage. Diego Costa, twice, thought he would do just that but seconds before the half-time whistle he saw his goalbound effort heroically blocked by Eric Bailly and when he did have the ball in the back of the net three minutes after the restart, the flag was up for offside.

FIRST-HALF STATS
Possession: Chelsea 48% United 52%
Shots: Chelsea 6 United 7
Shots on target: Chelsea 2 United 2
Corners: Chelsea 4 United 3

The Reds made two substitutions early in the second period as Juan Mata replaced Marouane Fellaini for the restart and Marcos Rojo subsequently came on the injured Bailly.

United enjoyed some decent possession as the visitors looked for a way back into the game. But after Lingard had seen a rasping 25-yard effort pushed away on 58 minutes, Chelsea went up the other end and netted a well-crafted third goal through Hazard. The scorer fed Kante who then found Nemanja Matic and when the defensive midfielder returned it to Hazard inside the box, the Belgian steered the ball past De Gea.

It got worse on 70 minutes when Kante was allowed to weave his way through the United defence and roll the ball into the corner for his first goal for Chelsea since his summer move from champions Leicester.

The game was done and dusted by that point but the Reds, of course, refused to give up and were only thwarted in the push for a consolation by two superb saves by Courtois, first from a lovely turn and shot from Ibrahimovic and secondly from a piledriver by substitute Rojo in injury time.

It was a day to forget for the Reds, despite an impressively vocal backing from the away fans, but another big game lies right around the corner with a Manchester derby to come next, on Wednesday in the EFL Cup.

FULL-TIME STATS
Possession: Chelsea 44% United 56%
Shots: Chelsea 14 United 16
Shots on target: Chelsea 6 United 5
Corners: Chelsea 5 United 6

TEAMS

Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill (c); Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Pedro (Chalobah 71), Diego Costa (Batshuayi 78), Hazard (Willian 78). Subs not used: Begovic, Aina, Terry, Oscar.

Booked: Luiz, Pedro, Alonso

United: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling (c), Bailly (Rojo 52), Blind; Fellaini (Mata 46), Herrera; Rashford, Pogba, Lingard (Martial 65); Ibrahimovic. Subs not used: Romero, Darmian, Carrick, Young.

Booked: Bailly, Pogba

United 4 Fenerbahce 1

20/10/2016 21:50, Report by Adam Higgins

Europa League | Attendance: 71,000 | Scorers: Pogba 31 pen, 45+1, Martial 34 pen, Lingard 48; van Persie 83

Manchester United boosted their hopes of qualifying for the Europa League knockout stages with a convincing 4-1 victory over Turkish side Fenerbahce at Old Trafford.

The Reds took a while to get going before penalties from Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial – and another stunning effort from Pogba – gave the hosts a firm first-half cushion.

The impressive Jesse Lingard added further gloss shortly after the break and, although Robin van Persie scored on his anticipated Old Trafford return, Jose Mourinho’s men earned a second win in Group A to sit second at the halfway point, ahead of facing the Turks again in a fortnight’s time at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium.

Mourinho kept his promise to name a strong team in the middle of a busy week, despite making seven changes from Monday’s goalless draw against Liverpool at Anfield. Captain Wayne Rooney returned to the starting line-up against the side he scored a memorable hat-trick against on his United debut in 2004 and Luke Shaw came in for his first appearance in a month.

Meanwhile, United fans gave former striker van Persie a warm welcome back on his first appearance at the Theatre of Dreams since his successful three-year spell with the Reds came to an end last year.

United made an assertive start with plenty of early possession as the visitors sat back in numbers in the opening exchanges. The first notable effort at goal took 15 minutes to arrive but Pogba found ex-Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel in his way before Martial was inches away from converting Juan Mata’s delightful cross at the back post.

But after a slow start in which chances were at a premium, United seized control with two quick-fire spotkicks just after the half-hour mark. Mata brought down Michael Carrick’s pinpoint pass and was impeded by Simon Kjaer, allowing Pogba to send Fenerbache keeper Volkan Demirel the wrong way.

Less than three minutes later, French referee Benoit Bastien pointed to the spot again after Martial was bundled over by Sener Ozbayrakli and took over the responsibility to bury the spot-kick into the same left-hand corner.

Fenerbahce almost responded immediately when Souza checked inside of Eric Bailly inside the box but his low shot was kept out by an alert David De Gea.

United wrapped up a fine first half in style when Rooney’s cross found Jesse Lingard, who laid the ball off for Pogba to guide a sublime 20-yard shot into the top corner for his second of the game.

HALF TIME STATS
Possession: United 64% Fenerbahce 36%
Shots: United 6 Fenerbahce 1
Shots on target: United 3 Fenerbahce 1
Corners: United 1 Fenerbahce 3

Both sides made half-time alterations as Marcos Rojo replaced Chris Smalling in the United defence, while former Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat boldly introduced striker Emmanuel Emineke in place of booked defender Kjaer for Fenerbahce. But any comeback hopes were firmly extinguished by a rasping effort from Lingard three minutes after the restart. The England midfielder was picked out by Rooney and rifled past Demirel from the edge of the box.

With the Reds well in control, Fenerbahce came back into the game and van Persie received a standing ovation from the Old Trafford faithful when marking his homecoming with the goal he craved, tapping in Emenike’s cross from close range. De Gea then had to be alert to push away Souza’s long-range effort as the Turks threatened again.

United could have widened the margins further as Mata and substitute Tim Fosu-Mensah brought saves from Demirel but it was a satisfying evening for the Reds, who return to Premier League action on Sunday against Chelsea, when Mourinho makes his eagerly awaited return to Stamford Bridge.

FULL TIME STATS
Possession: United 61% Fenerbahce 39%
Shots: United 11 Fenerbahce 6
Shots on target: United 6 Fenerbahce 3
Corners: United 2 Fenerbahce 7

THE TEAMS

United: De Gea; Darmian, Smalling (Rojo 45), Bailly, Shaw; Carrick, Pogba (Fosu-Mensah 75); Mata, Rooney, Lingard (Memphis 66); Martial.

Subs not used: Romero, Fellaini, Ibrahimovic, Rashford.

Fenerbahce: Demirel; Sener, Skrtel, Kjaer (Emenike 45), Kaldirim; Souza, Topal, Neustadter; Potuk, van Persie, Volkan (Koybasi 69).

Subs not used: Fabiano, Civelek, Koca, Stoch.

Booked: Kjaer

Liverpool 0 Manchester United 0

17/10/2016 21:52, Report by Mark Froggatt

Premier League | Attendance: TBC | Scorers: None

Jose Mourinho’s first taste of Manchester United’s historic rivalry with Liverpool ended with a goalless draw at Anfield, where two world-class saves from David De Gea proved pivotal.

Monday night’s match was largely an even contest throughout with the teams fashioning a few chances to score, particularly in the livelier second half when De Gea’s athletic ability enabled him to deny Emre Can and Philippe Coutinho with astonishing acts of goalkeeping.

It was United’s first match at Anfield since the new Main Stand had opened earlier this term and the increased attendance contributed to a particularly rousing rendition of the club anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone. A frenzied atmosphere sound-tracked the opening exchanges, too, particularly when the home fans protested the referee’s decision not to caution Marcus Rashford for an early foul on James Milner.

While this was a battle between age-old enemies, there were many new faces involved and arguably none more recognisable than Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Swedish summer signing who had not scored or beaten Liverpool in four previous matches with Italian clubs. He was lively early on, hitting a free-kick off target from distance and forcing a good save from Lloris Karius with a deflected strike.

Jose Mourinho had made two changes to his team by starting Marouane Fellaini and Ashley Young in midfield, but his decision to play Paul Pogba as a number 10 was perhaps his most notable alteration. The Frenchman, who had previously been sent off at Anfield in a feisty FA Youth Cup tie, appeared to relish his greater freedom by positioning himself high up the pitch, almost as a second striker at times.

Liverpool’s best chance of the half fell to Roberto Firmino when the Brazilian headed tamely at David De Gea on 30 minutes, before the home side finished in the ascendancy. The Anfield crowd reserved its biggest cheers in the first period, however, for the late bookings of Eric Bailly and Ashley Young.

STATS AT HALF TIME
Possession: Liverpool 66% United 34%
Shots: Liverpool 2 United 5
Shots on target: Liverpool 1 United 1
Corners: Liverpool 1 United 0

The match resumed with both teams battling in midfield and chances began to appear, firstly when Pogba beat Jordan Henderson on 54 minutes to fire a powerful cross into the area that Ibrahimovic headed back across goal, allowing Karius to gleefully collect. Can, starting in Georginio Wijnaldum’s absence, then scrambled a low shot at goal to force an absolutely superb one-handed save out of De Gea.

After a quiet spell, the Spain international was called into action once again as he produced another astounding act of goalkeeping to keep his sheet clean on 70 minutes, this time diving to his left to palm Coutinho’s 30-yard thunderbolt wide of the post. The Kop quickly burst into applause and their ovation could well have been in appreciation of United’s no.1, as well as their own red-shirted star.

Wayne Rooney, scorer of a winning goal at Anfield last season, was introduced to the action in place of Marcus Rashford on 77 minutes and, soon after, Fellaini headed a decent opportunity wide from Daley Blind’s corner. At the other end, Antonio Valencia then produced an inch-perfect sliding tackle to prevent Firmino from shooting when he was bearing down on goal with the clock ticking towards full time.

The result has left United seventh in the Premier League and five points behind leaders Manchester City after eight matches played, with Liverpool slightly ahead in fourth place.

STATS AT FULL TIME
Possession: Liverpool 58% United 42%
Shots: Liverpool 9 United 7
Shots on target: Liverpool 3 United 1
Corners: Liverpool 3 United 1

THE TEAMS 
Liverpool: Karius, Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner (Moreno 86), Henderson, Can, Coutinho, Firmino (Origi 85), Mane, Sturridge (Lallana 59).
Subs not used: Mignolet, Klaven, Lucas, Grujic.

United: De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Blind, Pogba, Fellaini, Rashford (Rooney 77), Herrera, Young (Shaw 90+1), Ibrahimovic.
Subs not used: Romero, Rojo, Carrick, Lingard, Mata.
Booked: Bailly, Young, Ibrahimovic, Fellaini.

Report: United 1 Stoke City 1

02/10/2016 13:50, Report by Adam Higgins

Premier League | 2 October 2016 | Old Trafford | Attendance: 75,251 | Scorers: Martial 69; Allen 82

Manchester United were denied a fourth straight win in all competitions on a frustrating afternoon at Old Trafford, as Stoke City struck late on to secure a point.

Anthony Martial, on as a second-half substitute, curled home beautifully from 12 yards for his first goal of the season to give the Reds the lead in the 69th minute. But, with eight minutes remaining, Joe Allen scored from close range to earn Mark Hughes’ side their first-ever Premier League point at the Theatre of Dreams.

Paul Pogba rattled the crossbar late on but United missed the chance to move up to third in the table and will rue a host of missed opportunities in the first half, while Lee Grant produced a standout performance in the Stoke goal.

Ahead of the game, Jose Mourinho named the same team that beat champions Leicester 4-1 last weekend, with four changes from Thursday’s Europa League win over Zorya Luhansk. As a mark of respect, players from both teams wore black armbands to mark the passing of Reds legend David Herd, who represented both sides during his career.

United began brightly and could have taken the lead inside the first minute when Pogba’s reverse pass released Zlatan Ibrahimovic in behind the Stoke defence, but the Swedish striker was denied by Grant, who reacted well to keep out his second effort from a tight angle.

Stoke settled into the game and went close themselves on two occasions through Geoff Cameron, who tested David De Gea from 20 yards, before firing Allen’s cutback straight into the keeper’s hands.

Pogba, looking to add to his first Reds goal after finding the net last weekend, then missed two excellent chances to give United a deserved lead midway through the first period. Ibrahimovic combined well with Ander Herrera before laying the ball off to the Frenchman, who slid his shot wide of the post before heading wide from Daley Blind’s corner when left unmarked eight yards out.

It was then Jesse Lingard’s turn to get a glimpse of goal from a dangerous near-post cross by Ibrahimovic, with Grant brilliantly clawing the forward’s instinctive shot behind for a corner. Juan Mata, who also scored against Leicester, almost provided the decisive breakthrough with a delightful lobbed effort which Grant palmed over the crossbar.

Stoke came into the match as the half wore on but the Reds – and Pogba in particular – were left to reflect on several missed opportunities as the half-time whistle blew.

HALF-TIME STATS
Possession: United 68% Stoke 32%
Shots at goal: United 11 Stoke 4
Shots on target: United 4 Stoke 3
Corners: United 4 Stoke 1

After the restart, the visitors were quick out of the blocks and De Gea had to be alert to tip over Bruno Martins Indi’s looping header from Xherdan Shaqiri’s free-kick, although the offside flag had been raised.

Former Liverpool midfielder Allen then managed to cut inside Chris Smalling from Marko Arnautovic’s flick inside the box but could only sidefoot tamely at De Gea. The electrifying pace of Rashford and Lingard in wide areas caused problems for the Stoke defence all afternoon, with Grant required to race off his line to prevent Lingard from having a clear run at goal.

The former Sheffield Wednesday keeper was also called into action to keep out long-distance efforts from Mata and Pogba, who arguably enjoyed his most dominant display in a United shirt to date. Herrera then went close with a fierce low drive from 25 yards from Lingard’s lay-off, which travelled inches wide of the post.

Mourinho looked to inject extra firepower midway through the second half as captain Wayne Rooney and Martial replaced Lingard and Mata. And, after Ibrahimovic’s low shot drifted inches past the post, Martial made an instant impact with a sumptuous effort reminiscent of his goal-of-the-season contender against the Potters on their last visit back in February.

United suddenly came to life and Blind, who has received plenty of praise for his recent form, almost found the net himself when meeting Rashford’s cutback from six yards, only for Martins Indi to throw himself in the way.

Ibrahimovic then became the latest player to be denied by Grant, who beat away the no.9’s half-volley after Martial’s delivery evaded the stretching Shawcross.

Just when United looked set for three points, Stoke levelled the scores when Glen Johnson’s deflected shot was kept out by De Gea but substitute Jon Walters kept it alive and his shot looped up off Eric Bailly onto the crossbar, giving Allen a chance he couldn’t miss.

Ibrahimovic almost proved the hero again after Thursday’s Europa League winner, but his low shot was tipped wide by Grant before Pogba headed Rashford’s cross against the woodwork with two minutes to go, as the Reds were left to settle for a frustrating draw heading into the international break.

FULL-TIME STATS
Possession: United 67% Stoke 33%
Shots at goal: United 24 Stoke 7
Shots on target: United 9 Stoke 6
Corners: United 13 Stoke 2

United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Blind; Pogba, Herrera (Memphis 84); Lingard (Martial 67), Mata (Rooney 67), Rashford; Ibrahimovic.

Subs not used: Romero, Darmian, Carrick, Fellaini.

Booked: Valencia, Herrera, Ibrahimovic

Stoke City: Grant; Johnson, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Cameron, Whelan, Allen; Shaqiri (Bardsley 88), Bony (Crouch 77), Arnautovic (Walters 77).

Subs not used: Given, Adam, Diouf, Bojan.

MATCH REACTION

Jose Mourinho: “It’s simple – the best Manchester United performance of the season. It could have been 3-0 or 4-0 at half-time and six or seven at the end of the game. I can’t believe the result is 1-1. It was very undeserved.”

Ander Herrera: “I think we played even better than against Leicester as we created maybe 10 or 11 chances in front of their keeper [Lee Grant]. He was their best player and that says everything. I think our fans can be proud as we did everything and tried to win.”