Liverpool 0:1 Manchester United

Wayne Rooney netted Manchester United’s 100th Reds goal against Liverpool at Anfield as Louis van Gaal’s men claimed a famous late victory over the Merseysiders.

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The United captain struck with 12 minutes left when he smashed home from close range after Marouane Fellaini’s header had come back off the bar. It’s fair to say the hosts dominated much of the 90 minutes, but the Reds grew into the game after half-time before Rooney struck the killer blow, although it must be said that David De Gea was once again outstanding.

Louis van Gaal kept faith with the starting XI that played out a 3-3 draw against Newcastle United four days earlier, with the only change to the matchday squad being Guillermo Varela replacing James Weir on the bench.

United had won two of the last three league meetings at Anfield, including last season’s Juan Mata-inspired victory, while van Gaal had enjoyed three league wins from three against the Merseysiders since his arrival. Both sides came into the match in mixed form and it seemed strange for a United/Liverpool game equating to a match between sixth and ninth in the table.

It was the hosts who had the first sight of goal on 10 minutes, following a cagey opening. A ball over the top from Lucas found Adam Lallana, who tried his luck with a header as De Gea sprinted from goal. The Spaniard got a strong hand to the effort and was relieved to see Roberto Firmino drag a follow-up shot wide with the goal gaping. James Milner blasted over soon after, while tensions were raised between the sides after Fellaini and Lucas clashed twice in quick succession.

The Reds were quiet as an attacking force with Liverpool enjoying the best of the few opportunities in the first period. Captain Jordan Henderson had one of those on the half-hour mark but his cross-shot, after being flicked in by Firmino, flew wide. Firmino found himself through on goal with half-time approaching as Liverpool broke from a United corner, but Anthony Martial got back brilliantly to take the ball off his toe.

Cameron Borthwick-Jackson replaced the injured Ashley Young just before the break as Liverpool finished the half on top.

The second period began as the first finished with Jurgen Klopp’s men dominating and five minutes in Emre Can almost broke the deadlock after powering past Chris Smalling but, thankfully, De Gea saved with his legs.

At the other end, Martial had United’s best chance of the game so far on 56 minutes after the Reds worked the ball well. Borthwick-Jackson’s cross eventually dropped to the French striker, who dragged a shot just wide of Simon Mignolet’s left-hand post. The chance sparked encouragement in the away end, which featured the watching Phil Jones, Michael Carrick and Marcos Rojo, as the Reds gradually worked their way into the match.

De Gea still needed to be alert at the other end and soon after last season’s Anfield hero Mata had replaced Jesse Lingard, the Spanish stopper pulled off a brilliant double save from Can and Firmino.

Memphis Depay’s arrival, in place of Ander Herrera, prompted a tactical reshuffle as Martial went up front with Rooney switching to the no.10 role, and Memphis and Mata flanking them down each side.

After playing such a key role in this fixture last season, Mata turned provider this time as the Reds looked to stage a smash and grab. His cross from a short corner landed on Fellaini’s head and after the ball smacked against the bar Rooney was there to blast home into the roof of the net. It was the striker’s fifth goal in four games and it also meant Rooney has now scored more goals in the Premier League for one club than anyone else, edging ahead of Thierry Henry to 176.

The Reds survived a couple of scares late on, but held out for another important victory with none sweeter than against our great rivals.

Nothing sweeter than a victory at Anfield!

Glory MUFC!

Cheers

Ss

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Manchester United 2:1 Swansea City

Wayne Rooney scored a second-half winner as Manchester United got 2016 off to the perfect start by defeating Swansea at Old Trafford.

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The Reds’ winless run had looked in danger of being extended to nine games after Gylfi Sigurdsson cancelled out Anthony Martial’s opener.

But with just over 10 minutes remaining, Rooney flicked home Martial’s cross to net his 238th goal for United, moving him above Denis Law into second place in the club’s all-time highest scorers list.

Though there was only one change to the side that drew with Chelsea on Monday – Phil Jones replacing Matteo Darmian – the Reds began the new year in a different system, with Jones joining Chris Smalling and Daley Blind in a three-man defence flanked by wing-backs Young and Martial.

United had lost three consecutive games to Swansea by a 2-1 scoreline but quickly set about trying to end that streak and, within a minute, Ander Herrera had a shot blocked inside the box after an incisive one-two with Juan Mata.

It was another bright and breezy start from Louis van Gaal’s men but the next real chance did not arrive until the 21st minute, when Young’s cross found Rooney on the far side of the box but the captain could only fire into the side-netting. At the other end, it was half-an-hour before David De Gea was tested as he comfortably clutched Wayne Routledge’s drive.

A sharp piece of thinking almost resulted in Mata putting United ahead as Herrera played a quick free-kick on the edge of the box forward to the Spaniard, whose initial shot was blocked by Neil Taylor before his second weaker effort was saved by Swans goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.

Fabianski was called upon twice more before the break, firstly clinging onto a Mata shot after Young had beaten Leon Britton to reach the byline and pick out the United no.8, before saving a Rooney header from another Young cross.

Van Gaal brought on Darmian in place of Jones at the start of the second half and, almost instantly, Rooney had a left-footed shot blocked by Ashley Williams. But it wasn’t long before the Reds took the lead as Young crossed from the right to find Martial and the Frenchman headed emphatically past Fabianski.

Swansea looked for a swift reply and, after Gylfi Sigurdsson broke down the right channel, Darmian did well to recover and block his shot, with De Gea collecting the loose ball.

As the game began to open up, Young was a real threat down the right and twice came close to creating further chances with dangerous deliveries that were headed away by the visitors.

But Swansea had now come out of their shells and Andre Ayew came within a whisker of equalising when he headed against the post, with De Gea beaten. Angel Rangel picked up the loose ball and went down under Darmian’s challenge but was booked for diving.

That chance encouraged the visitors and, with 20 minutes left, they equalised through Sigurdsson, who sent a looping header from substitute Modou Barrow’s cross beyond De Gea’s despairing dive.

Old Trafford was stunned but United were not deterred and immediately pushed for a winner, which duly arrived in the 77th minute when Martial beat Federico Fernandez on the left and crossed for Rooney to flick home, cueing joyous celebrations in the Stretford End. The goal made Rooney the second-highest Premier League scorer of all time, ahead of ex-Reds striker Andy Cole but behind Newcastle legend Alan Shearer.

Back came Swansea and Barrow had a shot well saved by De Gea as the game entered the final 10 minutes. In stoppage-time, Michael Carrick replaced Herrera to make his 400th appearance but United then survived two huge scares at the death. Firstly, De Gea made a superb flying save from Williams’s shot, before Swansea sent Fabianski forward for a corner and the goalkeeper headed inches wide.

The Reds survived and claimed the points – let’s hope there will be plenty more this year.

Glory Glory Man United

Happy New Year!

Ss

Manchester United 2:0 West Bromwich Albion

Manchester United got back to winning ways in the Barclays Premier League with a 2-0 win against West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford on Saturday.

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After long spells of fruitless first-half pressure from the Reds, the breakthrough finally came early in the second period when Jesse Lingard fired home a super finish, bagging his first goal for the club as his star continues to rise. Juan Mata then secured the victory from the spot in injury time as United stayed fourth in the league, notching a sixth clean sheet in seven in the process.

Louis van Gaal named an unchanged side from the XI that had overcome CSKA Moscow in midweek, although Cameron Borthwick-Jackson became the latest youngster to be included in the Dutchman’s 16, following Axel Tuanzebe’s appearance on the bench against Crystal Palace last week.

Keen to build on the aforementioned Champions League win, the Reds started brightly and dominated possession, though did little to trouble Boaz Myhill’s goal in the opening 10 minutes. The first chance of note came just after the 15-minute mark, when Bastian Schweinsteiger found Wayne Rooney, who turned well and was able to prod ball into the path of Mata. The Spaniard arced his body to curl a shot past the reaches of Myhill, but also narrowly past the post.

Meanwhile, West Brom, who fielded a side containing Old Trafford old boys Darren Fletcher and Jonny Evans, continued to defend with the tirelessness and commitment that those players had come to embody during their time at United, frustrating the home side for long periods. With the Baggies happy to sit back and soak up the play, the onus was on United to break them down, yet, despite the relentless pressure and possession, few clear-cut chances were created.

Left-sided duo Marcos Rojo and Lingard did provide a bright spark for the Reds, keeping West Brom right-back Craig Dawson on his toes, and it was the latter of the United pair who was next to go close.

Mata collected the ball on the edge of the area before arrowing an expertly-weighted ball to the far post looking for the young winger, but just as it seemed destined to provide Jesse with the chance of the half, Dawson intervened with a perfectly-timed header to clear the danger. Lingard enjoyed another opportunity late in the half, having been put through on goal by Anthony Martial, but Evans stood firm, diverting the ball out of play.

Seemingly not content with creating chances, Martial then tested Myhill himself, but his stinging drive was thwarted by the stopper as the score remained goalless at the interval.

There were no changes to personnel from either side at the break and nor was there a change to the state of play, as United began to take the game to the visitors from the get-go.

Buoyed by chants of ‘Attack, Attack, Attack’, it wasn’t long before the Reds finally turned possession into a tangible advantage and, unsurprisingly, it was the excellent Lingard who broke the deadlock.

With just over 50 minutes on the clock, Martial sent a ball into the area looking for Rooney, only for Chris Brunt to clear the danger. Thankfully, the Ulsterman’s clearance only went as far as Lingard, who took a touch before bending a superb effort past the beaten Myhill. The Warrington-born winger’s first goal for the club was one that belied his young years and was greeted by a deafening roar from the Stretford End, stirred from its first-half slumber.

The goal gave everyone of United persuasion a real lift going into the start of an important second half, but chances were still at a minimum, despite the home side’s continued forays forward.

As the half drew on it was West Brom who began to show more ambition going forward and Evans might well have drawn the visitors level as he seized upon confusion in the United defensive ranks, possibly caused by a double substitution for the Baggies shortly before a free-kick. It was a let-off for van Gaal’s men, who then received another huge slice of luck two minutes later when substitute Saidy Berahino headed over from point-blank range.

Borthwick-Jackson and Ander Herrera were then brought on in quick succession in place of Rojo and Rooney, following the earlier introduction of Phil Jones at right-back. The changes seemed to take the sting out of the game, with United now back in control, and the home side earned the chance to seal the points in added-on time.

The ever-sprightly Martial seized upon the tired legs among the Baggies defence and looked set to fire home before being chopped down by Gareth McAuley. The West Brom man saw red for the late challenge, allowing  Mata to step up and coolly slot home from 12 yards – job done.

GGMU

Ss

Manchester United 1:0 CSKA Moscow

Manchester United’s goal drought ended in dramatic fashion as Wayne Rooney’s header in front of the Stretford End secured a 1-0 win over CSKA Moscow in the Champions League.

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The Reds had not found the net in consecutive matches against Manchester City, Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace, which was a cause for concern ahead of this crunch tie in Group B. Although it took 80 minutes to find a breakthrough at a rain-sodden Old Trafford, the captain eventually delivered the goods to achieve a result that places the Reds top of the pool following Wolfsburg’s 2-0 defeat at PSV Eindhoven.

Louis van Gaal made three changes to his starting XI by recalling Ashley Young, Michael Carrick and Jesse Lingard, while crucially sticking with the under-fire Rooney up front. The United and England skipper almost scored in the third minute when his left-footed shot flashed just wide of the post, prompting audible cheers of his name from the Old Trafford faithful who were so eager to celebrates goals from the no.10.

Lingard unsuccessfully appealed for a penalty moments later and quickly hit another effort wide of target, before a fine long ball from Daley Blind on the halfway line led to Juan Mata forcing a decent save from goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev on 15 minutes as the Reds pressed for a first goal since Anthony Martial’s header in the previous fixture against CSKA at Arena Khimki, some four matches ago.

United completely dominated the first half – both in terms of possession and shots at goal – but were guilty of missing genuine opportunities with Rooney’s free-kick bouncing wide, Lingard’s second shot flying over and Marcos Rojo’s back-post volley missing the target from close range. It was undoubtedly a much-improved performance from the Reds, with just the finishing touch lacking.

The second half began as the first left off, with the Reds missing further chances to score as Rojo nodded wide from just outside the six-yard box before the Argentinian – who used to play for CSKA’s rivals Spartak Moscow – supplied a cross from which Martial headed at the goalkeeper. The Frenchman might have done better, yet his pace and energy suggested more chances would come.

The visitors were defending with all 11 men behind the ball and they rarely ventured past the halfway line, except for the odd counter attack, which posed a conundrum for United. How do you break down a stubborn Russian defence? Van Gaal introduced Marouane Fellini for Martial on the hour mark and the deadlock was almost broken moments later, when Rooney received the ball from Mata inside the six-yard area but was unable to move his feet quickly enough to execute a shot, much to his frustration.

Memphis, who had scored Champions League goals against Club Brugge and former club PSV, entered the fray on 74 minutes and his cross soon led to Carrick firing wide from range. CSKA then went close to causing an upset when Seydou Doumbia forced an excellent save from De Gea before the scorer on matchday three hit a shot on the rebound that was sensationally cleared off the line by Chris Smalling.

The eventual breakthrough could not have been scripted better – Rooney popped up inside the area to head Lingard’s excellent cross past the goalkeeper in front of a jubilant Stretford End, where the captain celebrated by running to the corner flag and wildly punching the air. It was a moment of relief and ecstasy, but more importantly it was a goal that earned three invaluable points in Champions League Group B.

And the Reds go marching ON ON ON!

GGMU

Ss

Everton 0:3 Manchester United

Manchester United got back to winning ways and earned a first victory at Goodison Park since 2011 thanks to goals from Morgan Schneiderlin, Ander Herrera and Wayne Rooney.

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It was the perfect way for the Reds to return to Barclays Premier League action following the international break and a chastening 3-0 defeat at Arsenal last time out. The result also maintained pressure on the leaders, Manchester City, who secured a comfortable 5-1 win over Bournemouth at the Etihad Stadium.

Saturday’s match was tinged with emotion with the news that Howard Kendall, the former Everton player and manager, had died at the age of 69 and the players wore black armbands as a mark of respect. A minute’s applause also preceded kick-off at Goodison Park, where Louis van Gaal made four changes to his starting XI by recalling Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Schneiderlin and Herrera.

A slow start in the previous game at Arsenal allowed the Gunners to score three times in the first 20 minutes and the manager demanded a much-improved opening on Merseyside. He got his wish, too, when Chris Smalling chested Rojo’s shot towards Schneiderlin for the Frenchman to bag his first competitive United goal with a cool finish on 18 minutes. Herrera doubled the lead four minutes later when the Spaniard stormed into the area to head Rojo’s fine cross past former Reds goalkeeper Tim Howard.

Jones briefly left the action on 30 minutes to stem the flow of blood pouring from his nose, which was the result of an increasingly physical first half that also saw David De Gea and Anthony Martial temporarily go down with knocks. Although Everton pressed for a goal before the break, the closest they came was a powerful effort from Ross Barkley that was clawed away by De Gea on 45 minutes.

The second half began with Jesse Lingard replacing Juan Mata to make his first appearance since his first-team debut on the opening day of 2014/15, when he suffered a serious knee injury, and the 22-year-old Academy graduate was quickly needed in defence as Everton piled on the pressure, going close to scoring when Romelu Lukaku’s shot was brilliantly saved by the left boot of De Gea.

United stood firm and scored again after the hour-mark when Phil Jagielka’s wayward pass fell to Schneiderlin on the halfway line, from where he fed Herrera on the right. The Spaniard slipped a neat ball forward to Rooney and the ex-Everton striker executed a fine finish past Howard. Wayne is now second in the Premier League goal charts and level with Andy Cole with 187 to his name, although he still has some way to go before catching Alan Shearer’s record of 260.

Barkley, the promising England international who was arguably Everton’s best player, hit a rasping free-kick onto the roof of De Gea’s goal on 80 minutes before Marouane Fellaini replaced Herrera to receive a respectful ovation from the home fans who used to cheer his name. The Belgian’s presence in midfield allowed United to consolidate an excellent win, another clean sheet and three more Premier League points.

GGMU

Ss

Manchester United 3:1 Newcastle United

Wayne Rooney inspired Manchester United to a 3-1 win over Newcastle by scoring twice and setting up another for Robin van Persie, even if Papiss Cisse’s late penalty took some of the gloss off a fine day at Old Trafford.

The victory means the Reds are now unbeaten in eight Barclays Premier League matches and have recorded 11 straight wins on Boxing Day. Such a display also suggested Louis van Gaal was right to let his players spend Christmas at home.

The boss made just one change from the XI that started at Aston Villa, with Paddy McNair coming into his three-man defence so Michael Carrick could move back into midfield in place of the benched Darren Fletcher. Angel Di Maria was the only notable absentee from the matchday squad with an injury sustained during the Reds’ final training session.

United began at a lively pace and looked ambitious in the final third, although the first real chance of the game fell to Ayoze Perez, who took a fresh-air shot when presented with a clear view at goal in the 11th minute. Radamel Falcao, starting at Old Trafford for the first time since 5 October, then headed Ashley Young’s right-footed cross just wide of goal.

Moments later, in the 15th minute, Robin van Persie latched onto Wayne Rooney’s lofted pass and slid a low shot into the side-netting after rounding the advancing Magpies goalkeeper, Jak Alnwick. Daryl Janmaat then forced an excellent save from the in-form David De Gea midway through the first half with a rasping drive from around 25 yards, a minute before van Persie ghosted into the area once again to head Young’s in-swinging cross wide of the far post.

United eventually made a breakthrough in the 23rd minute with an excellent counter attack that left fans purring at Old Trafford. Rooney started it off inside his own half with a lovely pass out wide to Juan Mata, whose brilliantly chipped cross was astutely played back across the area by Falcao for Rooney to claim his seventh goal of the season.

The club captain was celebrating once again in the 36th minute when a superb sliding tackle from Falcao allowed Mata to regain possession outside Newcastle’s area, before the diminutive Spaniard slipped an inch-perfect pass through the Magpies defence for Rooney to clip another guided shot past Alnwick.

After the break, van Gaal’s men made a bright start to the second half and extended the lead in the 53rd minute through van Persie, who escaped his marker to nod Rooney’s deliciously lofted pass home in front of a jubilant Stretford End. Newcastle responded by moving up the pitch and almost got one back through 17-year-old Adam Armstrong as his shot flashed wide of De Gea’s far post.

With one eye undoubtedly on Sunday’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur, Carrick and Falcao were both withdrawn to standing ovations just after the hour mark with Fletcher and young James Wilson coming on. Rafael da Silva later made his return from injury – and a first appearance since the 1-1 draw with Chelsea on 26 October – in place of Antonio Valencia. Those changes affected the flow of the game and the tempo dropped significantly as the clock ticked on at Old Trafford, where heavy rain fell throughout the second half.

Newcastle pressed forward nonetheless and earned a late penalty with three minutes left when Jack Colback was tripped by Phil Jones, allowing substitute Papiss Cisse to calmly fire into the top-right corner from 12 yards. That riposte did not spark a dramatic comeback, however, and United held on to record another fine Boxing Day win.

GGMU

SS

Manchester United 3:0 Liverpool

Manchester United swept historic arch-rivals Liverpool aside with a fine 3-0 win to record the Reds’ sixth consecutive victory.

Goals from Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata gave Louis van Gaal’s side the comfort of a two-goal lead before half-time, with Robin van Persie clinching all three points after the break.

But United were once again indebted to goalkeeper David De Gea, who made the first of several crucial saves seconds before Rooney’s opener. A magnificent effort to touch a Mario Balotelli shot onto his bar at 2-0 kept the frustrated visitors at bay, and even after van Persie had sealed the game, De Gea was using his body and feet to prevent any kind of consolation goal for the Merseysiders.

Injuries to Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo forced Louis van Gaal to again make changes in the United backline and he opted for the experience of Michael Carrick, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans. They faced a Liverpool side playing without a recognised striker – Raheem Sterling operated as a “false nine” – and with understudy goalkeeper Brad Jones selected ahead of Simon Mignolet. For United, James Wilson was handed a start for the biggest game of his fledgling career so far.

Driven on by a predictably raucous crowd, the opening stages had United on the back foot, with Wayne Rooney clearing Martin Skrtel’s header away from just in front of the goalline two minutes into the match. Marouane Fellaini was booked shortly afterwards as the game showed all the intensity that this fixture is rightly famous for.

Sterling wasted an opportunity when, one on one with De Gea, he shot straight at the keeper, but within seconds United made the visitors pay. Antonio Valencia nutmegged Joe Allen on the right flank before pulling the ball back for the Reds skipper to curl the ball in from just inside the box with keeper Jones completely wrong-footed.

The goal, Rooney’s sixth of the season so far, had come with United’s first attack of note but for a short time Liverpool carried on as before, with De Gea again thwarting Sterling with a block at his near post. Jones, Evans, Rooney and Allen entered referee Martin Atkinson’s book for niggly challenges as the game looked to be evolving into a tense cat-and-mouse affair in midfield.

But United doubled the lead five minutes before the break, with a move starting on the opposite flank to the opener. Ashley Young, enjoying himself in the left wing-back role, whipped in a cross that was met by the stooping Mata’s head at the far post. The ball looked to have scraped the top of Robin van Persie’s head on the way over and there were some claims for offside, but the goal stood and was celebrated wildly by the Old Trafford faithful.

The visitors brought on Mario Balotelli after the break, but within a few minutes De Gea was once again the hero for denying Sterling. A misplaced back-pass allowed the England international to go one on one with the Reds keeper, but the Spaniard forced his opponent wide before making another crucial block.

The let-off roused United, with Rooney forcing Jones to make a save and Wilson flashing a shot just wide of the net. Van Persie stabbed a snap-shot just inches off target, and then De Gea stepped in again to keep Liverpool out, brilliantly touching a Balotelli shot onto his crossbar.

The keeper’s heroics proved vital when United put the result beyond doubt with just under 20 minutes to go. A rapid counter-attack resulted in Lovren scuffing a clearance to Mata who rolled the ball into the path of van Persie, who had the simplest of tasks to score with Jones hopelessly out of position.

De Gea’s excellent afternoon’s work continued when he made two further saves from Balotelli, while at the other end Jones tipped a van Persie volley over his bar. The scoreline remained 3-0 for full-time, therefore, as United’s march continues apace.

Scousers smashed!

GGMU

SS

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