Manchester United beat Reading to go 15 points clear
On a rainy evening at Old Trafford, Manchester ambled past Reading 1-0 to go 15 points clear at the top of the Premier league table and hand Eamonn Dolan a defeat in his first game in charge as Reading’s caretaker manager. A solitary goal Wayne Rooney helped United secure a much needed win after they were dumped out from the Champions League and drew against Chelsea in the FA Cup after being 2 goals up.
Sir Alex made eight changes to his side for this fixture, resting Michael Carrick and Patrice Evra, while handing starts to Anderson, Ashley Young and Alex Buttner. The game started on a sedate note, with neither side really taking too many chances and United still looking below their best. With Rooney, van Persie and Welbeck all starting, United were expected to take the game by the scruff of its neck but could not.
Reading did well to keep them at bay with McLeary looking like a quite promising outlet on the left for the visitors. Young went close to breaking the deadlock after an excellent cross-field ball by Rio Ferdinand found the winger, who cut onto his right foot and curled one just wide of the post. Ferdinand was responsible largely in helping put United ahead as he broke forward from defence with the ball and some neat skill saw him play the ball to Rooney. The striker’s 21st minute shot took a huge deflection off Pearce’s leg and lobbed into the net over the helpless goalkeeper.
United continued to press forward without too much threat though with Welbeck shooting wide and Giggs turning back the years, but to no avail. Reading though almost got onto level terms in the 33rd minute with Robson-Kanu, after a slack first touch, curled a left footed shot wickedly past the United goal with De Gea completely beaten. That was the only real action the first half was to see, with neither team able to press and van Persie looking nothing like the player he was in the first half of the season.
The second half began with fans expecting more of a football match than they had seen in the first period. United refused to move out of second gear at best, content to move the ball around, with Reading pressing for the equalizer. They were kept at bay by some stellar defending from Vidic and Ferdinand, who easily the player of the match. Sir Alex might have as well kept mum during half time as United’s gameplay seemed limp and lacked any penetration whatsoever.
In the 63rd minute they suddenly sprung to life as the Red Devils got a free-kick, which was hammered towards goal by van Persie but was very well saved by Taylor low to his left. Reading brought on Le Fondre and Blackman for Hunt and Robson-Kanu in an attempt to push forward and United responded by bringing on Carrick for Young after the winger had taken a minor knock. The game continued to meander on with Reading searching for a late goal and United passing around in their own half. United brought on Kagawa for Anderson and soon Rooney cracked one just over the bar from a pullback by Welbeck but that was about it.
A very generous 5 minutes were added on, which was almost unnecessary. van Persie tried to make the headlines with a 94th minute scissor kick that flew over the goal. United won 1-0 in what was probably the most drab game of the season so far. But it’s wins like these that make a championship winning season and Sir Alex knows that well. 15 points clear now at the top and it looks like no. 20 is all but in the bag!