Stoke 1 Manchester United 1

Luis Nani

Sto­ke City 1 Man­chester Uni­ted 1, Brit­an­nia Sta­dium, Eng­lish Pre­mier Lea­gue, Septem­ber 24, 2011. Ta­ble top­ping Man­chester Uni­ted were held to a 1-1 draw by fifth pla­ced Sto­ke City. Lu­is Nani opened the scor­ing wi­th a fine in­di­vidu­al dis­play in the fir­st ha­lf, but a bril­liant head­ed goal from Pe­ter Crouch af­ter the re­start ended United´s win­ning streak.

Reign­ing Pre­mier Lea­gue Cham­pi­ons Man­chester Uni­ted had opened the 2011-12 Pre­miership cam­paign wi­th a mor­ale-boost­ing 2-1 vic­tory over West Brom­wich Al­bion at The Haw­thorns and fol­lowed up by trash­ing Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur 3-0 at Old Traf­ford eight days la­ter. Sir Al­ex Ferguson´s si­de con­firmed their good form by de­mol­ish­ing long­time ad­versar­ies Ar­senal 8-2 at ho­me on the last Sunday of Au­gust be­fore they de­feated re­leg­a­tion tipped Bol­ton Wan­derers and 2010-11 Pre­mier Lea­gue run­ners-up Chel­sea in their next two mat­ches. Then, in their sixth Pre­miership fix­ture of the sea­son, Man­chester Uni­ted fou­nd them­selves up ag­ainst To­ny Pulis´s Sto­ke City, who they had beaten by a 2-1 score in the cor­res­pond­ing meet­ing the pre­vi­ous year cour­tesy of two goals by Javi­er Her­nandez in the 27th and 86th min­utes re­spect­ively. It soon be­came clear to every­one pre­sent at Brit­an­nia Sta­dium, how­ever, that The Reds sorely missed Three Li­ons in­ter­na­tion­al Way­ne Roo­ney who had not be­en risked due to a ham­string prob­lem, and, to top it all, they were also with­out the ser­vices of North­ern Ire­land de­fender Jon­ny Evans who had be­en in­jured dur­ing the warm up.

The Man­chester Uni­ted play­ers ap­pealed for a pen­alty af­ter Chi­charito had be­en fouled in­side the eight­een-yard box by Sto­ke City and Eng­land de­fender Jon­athan Woodgate in the third min­ute of the clash, but no spot-kick was giv­en by ref­er­ee Pe­ter Walton of Northamp­ton­shire. The Mex­ic­an marks­man need­ed treat­ment af­ter the chal­lenge, tho­ugh, and he was re­placed by fel­low front­man Mi­chael Owen eight min­utes la­ter. The Old Traf­ford men went in­to the lead any­way when Lu­is Nani bro­ught the ball in­to the pen­alty area be­fore the Por­tuguese flank for­ward ham­mered a low strike pa­st Bos­nia and Herzegov­ina in­ter­na­tion­al shot stop­per As­mir Be­gov­ic and in­to the bot­tom left-hand cor­ner of the net three min­utes be­fore the ha­lf-hour ma­rk. But the pro­mising start fizzled out and the ho­me te­am al­most equal­ised on­ly a couple of min­utes la­ter when a dan­ger­ous high cross by right wing­er Jer­maine Pen­nant ev­entually fou­nd its way to right full­back Andy Wilkin­son, who­se fe­ro­cious shot was mi­ra­cu­lously touched on to the cross­bar by Man­chester Uni­ted goal­keeper Da­vid de Gea. And the Stafford­shire club came clo­se ag­ain just a few mo­ments la­ter as Re­pub­lic of Ire­land at­tack­er Jon­athan Wal­ters for­ced De Gea in­to an­oth­er stun­ning save wi­th a well ex­ecuted cross-shot.

Fol­low­ing the break, Sto­ke City fi­nally ma­naged to level the score sev­en min­utes in­to the sec­ond ha­lf when £10 mil­lion sign­ing Pe­ter Crouch head­ed a cor­ner from left wing­er Mat­thew Eth­er­ing­ton pa­st De Gea and in­to the net from six yards out. The for­mer Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur fa­vour­ite near­ly sco­red a sec­ond goal for his new club a mere three min­utes la­ter, on­ly to see his ef­fort su­perbly saved by De Gea. Ry­an Gig­gs, who had re­placed Ash­ley Young in the 70th min­ute, came clo­se to net­ting for Man­chester Uni­ted in stop­page time, but his left-footed ha­lf-vol­ley went over the bar. Af­ter drop­ping two points ag­ainst The Pottters, Man­chester Uni­ted were now ahead of neigh­bouring Pre­mier Lea­gue rivals Man­chester City on goal dif­fer­ence. Sto­ke City Te­am: As­mir Be­gov­ic, Andy Wilkin­son, Ry­an Shaw­cross, Jon­athan Woodgate, Rory De­lap, Marc Wil­son, Mat­thew Eth­er­ing­ton, Jer­maine Pen­nant, Glenn Whelan, Jon­athan Wal­ters, Pe­ter Crouch. Sub­stitutes: Ro­bert Huth, Ry­an Shot­ton, Mat­thew Up­son, Wil­son Pala­cios, Dean White­head, Camer­on Jerome, Tho­mas Sor­ensen. Man­chester Uni­ted Te­am: Da­vid de Gea, Rio Fer­dinand, Phil Jones, An­tonio Va­lencia, Ash­ley Young, Pat­rice Ev­ra, Oli­veira An­der­son, Dar­ren Fletch­er, Di­m­it­ar Ber­batov, Javi­er Her­nandez, Lu­is Nani. Sub­stitutes: Fa­bio da Silva, Ry­an Gig­gs, Ji-Sung Park, Fe­d­erico Ma­cheda, Mi­chael Owen, Dan­ny Wel­beck, An­ders Lindegaard.


Front Page