Manchester United 2 Stoke 0

Paul Pogba

Man­chester Uni­ted 2 Sto­ke City 0. Old Traf­ford, Eng­lish Pre­mier Lea­gue, Jan­uary 31, 2012. Man­chester Uni­ted col­lec­ted a com­fort­able and con­fid­ence-boost­ing 2-0 vic­tory ag­ainst Sto­ke City at Old Traf­ford. Uni­ted went in front thro­ugh a pen­alty from Javi­er Her­nandez wi­th sev­en min­utes re­maining of the fir­st pe­riod be­fore Di­m­it­ar Ber­batov made the score 2-0 in fa­vour of the ho­me te­am wi­th a sec­ond spot-kick eight min­utes af­ter the resumption.

Af­ter suf­fer­ing a 2-1 de­feat ag­ainst North West en­emies Liver­pool at An­field in the fourth ro­und of the FA Cup three days earli­er, it was back to the the bread and but­ter of the Pre­mier Lea­gue for Man­chester Uni­ted as they took on To­ny Pulis´s Sto­ke City at Old Traf­ford. Uni­ted had to man­age with­out sev­er­al key play­ers, in­clud­ing de­fenders Phil Jones and Ne­manja Vid­ic; mid­field­ers Oli­veira An­der­son, Tom Clev­er­ley, and Dar­ren Fletch­er; and for­ward Way­ne Roo­ney, who were all out wi­th in­jur­ies. City, for their part, were with­out for­ward Ma­mady Sid­ibe, who was side­lined wi­th a knee prob­lem, but mid­fielder Mat­thew Eth­er­ing­ton was back to fit­ness af­ter pick­ing up an in­jury dur­ing the sec­ond ha­lf of the 2-0 FA Cup Fourth Ro­und win ag­ainst Cham­pi­on­ship Der­by Coun­ty at Pride Park at the week­end. In the cor­res­pond­ing meet­ing of the 2010-11 sea­son, Man­chester Uni­ted had edged out an ag­gress­ive and well-or­gan­ised Sto­ke si­de by 2-1 at Old Traf­ford cour­tesy of goals from Javi­er Her­nandez and Nani. In the re­verse fix­ture on the twenty-fourth of Septem­ber 2011, how­ever, the te­ams had played out a 1-1 draw at Brit­an­nia Sta­dium wi­th Nani giv­ing Uni­ted the lead in the fir­st ha­lf and Pe­ter Crouch equal­ising for the hosts af­ter the re­start. Sto­ke had not ma­naged to de­feat Man­chester Uni­ted at Old Traf­ford since the twenty-fir­st of April 1976, tho­ugh, when To­ny Waddington´s age­ing te­am won by 1-0 thanks to a late goal from long serving stal­wart Alan Bloor. Now, if foot­ball his­tory and stat­ist­ics were any­thing to go by, then the Stafford­shire club need­ed heav­enly help to be­at Uni­ted at The Theatre of Dreams.

Need­less to say, Man­chester Uni­ted were fa­vour­ites to over­come Sto­ke City this time as well, but des­pite dom­in­at­ing the pos­ses­sion of the ball from the fir­st whistle, the ho­me play­ers struggled hard to break down a very de­term­ined and re­si­li­ent away de­fence. Ever­green vet­er­an mid­fielder Paul Scho­les came clo­se to put­ting Uni­ted on the score­board in the twenty-fir­st min­ute of the Tues­day en­counter, on­ly for his vol­ley to fly just a few in­ches wide of the up­right. Any­way, sev­en min­utes be­fore the sound of the ha­lf-time sig­nal, Ji-Sung Park won a pen­alty-kick which Her­nandez sub­sequently con­ver­ted to hand Man­chester Uni­ted a fully de­served lead, but as the in­tens­ity grew, Scho­les was on the re­ceiv­ing end of a yel­low card for an un­ne­ces­sary tough chal­lenge on Trin­id­ad and To­bago in­ter­na­tion­al Ken­wyne Jones wi­th a couple of min­utes left of the fir­st ha­lf. Fol­low­ing the in­ter­val, Ecuadorean wing­er An­tonio Va­lencia ma­naged to gain an­oth­er spot-kick for Man­chester Uni­ted, and it was this time taken by Di­m­it­ar Ber­batov who ham­mered ho­me his sev­enth goal of the 2011-12 sea­son in the fifty-third min­ute of the clash. In­ject­ing fresh legs in­to the te­am, Sir Al­ex Fer­guson ev­entually de­cided to hand Paul Po­gba his Pre­miership de­but when he let the young mid­field pro­spect come on as a late re­place­ment for goal scor­er Chi­charito in the sev­enty-fourth min­ute of the con­test. But al­though the dis­cip­lined and per­sist­ent Man­chester Uni­ted si­de con­tin­ued to dom­in­ate pro­ceed­ings for the re­mainder of the sec­ond ha­lf, Ferguson´s Pre­mier Lea­gue title chasers failed in their at­tempt to find their third goal of the fixture.

Sir Al­ex was well pleased wi­th the te­am ef­fort ag­ainst The Pot­ters, and he es­pe­cially sing­led out Po­gba and Ben Amos for praise. Sir Al­ex Fer­guson: “We played a lot of good foot­ball and sco­red two pen­al­ties whi­le we could have had two more. Paul Po­gba did really well when he came on. You can­not be­lieve that he is on­ly eight­een-years-old. As for Ben Amos, he has got po­ten­tial. He nev­er flapped at any­thing.” Man­chester Uni­ted Te­am: Ben Amos, Chris Small­ing, Rio Fer­dinand, Jon­athan Evans, Pat­rice Ev­ra, Mi­chael Car­rick, An­tonio Va­lencia, Paul Scho­les, Di­m­it­ar Ber­batov, Ji-Sung Park, Javi­er Her­nandez. Sub­stitutes: Dan­ny Wel­beck, Wil­li­am Ke­ane, Ra­fael da Silva, Fa­bio da Silva, Ry­an Gig­gs, Paul Po­gba, To­masz Kusz­czak. Sto­ke City Te­am: Tho­mas Sor­ensen, Ro­bert Huth, An­drew Wilkin­son, Ry­an Shaw­cross, Marc Wil­son, Wil­son Pala­cios, Jer­maine Pen­nant, Dean White­head, Jon­athan Wal­ters, Pe­ter Crouch, Ken­wyne Jones. Sub­stitutes: Jon­athan Woodgate, Mat­thew Eth­er­ing­ton, Glenn Whelan, Rory De­lap, Ri­cardo Fuller, Camer­on Jerome, As­mir Begovic.


Paul Pogba Quickfacts

Whi­le at Le Havre AC, Paul Po­gba was han­ded his youth in­ter­na­tion­al de­but for his na­tive Fran­ce in a 4-2 win over Wales at Ste­bon­heath Park in Llan­el­li on the twenty-third of Septem­ber 2008.


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