Saturday, February 23, 2008

Manchester Versus Newcastle

Man U 5 Newcastle 1

Newcastle have two wonderful wingers in James Milner and Damien Duff. Milner more so than Duff, as he was cutting and turning marvelously at times, only to not shoot when he should have and then missing out on the his intended target when he did cross. He’d set himself up with a fake cross or cut back—the defender sliding past him, but fail to truly make something happen.

On the other end, for Manchester United, they have a little known player called Cristiano Ronaldo, and with one cut back and cross, he was able to pick out Rooney free and clear at the far post for an easy tap in volley with the inside of his foot. One zero to Man U. Ronaldo burst down the line and then cut the ball back sharply and served a perfect ball to Rooney.

Manchester seemed to have a bit more bite, decisive when they were going to goal, and winning the fifty fifty balls when they were on the defensive end.

Newcastle, with two former Manchester United players in the midfield, the red haired Nicky Butt, although he’s got less and less of the red hair now and he’s currently has the most yellow cards in the EPL. And then the white haired Allen Smith, who’s not afraid of getting a few yellow cards here and there either. Both appeared understandably frustrated, as they get used to playing on a losing side.

Along with the bite, there’s a bit more of a click ability within the Manchester United side, players know where one another are, whether that’s just good football or they’re a team that’s begun to gel, but they knew where their teammates were running and exchanged the ball with a certain seamlessness. Click. Click. Click. Goal.

As one of the announcers of the game on Fox Soccer Channel said:

There’s no jealousy. They all want one another to score. When you’re with a top club, it’s all about the team.
Early on in the first half, before Manchester United got their first goal, Michael Owen was setting up for a volley, in clean and one on one with the keeper, only to have Rio Ferdinand get his leg in to break it up and tumble Owen over. There was no call, but it could have been a penalty. Ferdinand did unbalance Owen enough to warrant a call. But there have been much worse no calls, Rio did get a piece of the ball as he stuck out his leg.

Later, Michael Carrick charged forward on the dribble and stroked a through ball along the pitch as Ronaldo zipped past and behind his defender. He raced on the well weighted ball and was one on one with the keeper, slotting the ball home easily. The play was a bit of a counter attack, straight up the throat of the defense, and an early ball and great run by Ronaldo made for a smart goal for Man U. 2-0.

When you’re near the bottom of the table, stuck in thirteenth place as Newcastle is, momentum is hard to hold on to, especially when you’re down two goals at the half.

It was more of the same in the second half.

Another through ball to Ronaldo, he touched the ball around the on rushing defender and scored his second. 3-0 Man U.

Newcastle was able to pull a goal back by way of a pile up after a missed header (the free ball smashed home) but late goals from Rooney (a superb bending ball into the upper corner) and a Saha strike near the penalty spot put the total to 5 for Man U an 1 for Newcastle. The title chase is still on as Arsenal could only come up with a draw.