Stoke 0 Manchester United 2
Stoke City 0 Manchester United 2, Britannia Stadium, English Premier League, April 14, 2013. Michael Carrick registered the first goal of the match in the fourth minute of play, while Robin van Persie finally broke his goal drought when the centre forward made it 2-0 to Manchester United with a superbly executed penalty-kick six minutes past the hour mark.
After suffering a disappointing and embarrassing 1-0 defeat against crosstown adversaries and fellow Premiership title challengers Manchester City at Old Trafford in their previous fixture, Manchester United made the short trip to Stoke to take on The Potters. The Red Devils were nevertheless favourites to beat a Stoke City side who entered this match on the back of a 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa at Britannia Stadium. Manchester United had hammered Stoke to the convincing tune of 4-2 at The Theatre of Dreams in the reverse Premier League fixure back in October 2012 thanks to a Wayne Rooney double and one goal each from fellow frontrunners Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck. In the corresponding match last campaign, however, Sir Alex Ferguson´s players had been held to a 1-1 draw by Tony Pulis´s well organised Stoke team. The Britannia Stadium club had to make do without the services of midfielders Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson, while Manchester United were missing Jonny Evans, Paul Scholes, Chris Smalling and Nemanja Vidic. And although the result against neighbouring rivals Manchester City was highly disappointing, the Manchester United players now had to put the home defeat behind them and get on with the away match against the Staffordshire side.
As expected, Premier League leaders Manchester United dominated the possession of the ball from the very beginning to the very end, and it came as no surprise when Michael Carrick put the visiting side ahead after four minutes of action. The Mancunians lost some of that early impetus as the first period wore on, but were sparked back into life when they went into a 2-0 lead courtesy of a brilliantly taken penalty kick from Dutch international Robin van Persie in the 66th minute of the Sunday clash. With ten minutes remaining on referee Jonathan Moss´s watch, Stoke City captain Ryan Shawcross almost netted for the home team, but his dangerous effort from close range was magically blocked by Old Trafford shot stopper David de Gea. And as no more goals were scored on a sunny, but windy, Sunday afternoon, the Premier League encounter ended 2-0 to Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson was well pleased with his players after the comfortable Premier League triumph against Tony Pulis´s plucky Stoke City team at Britannia Stadium, and the Manchester United manager especially singled out Three Lions international striker Wayne Rooney for praise. After bouncing back from the home defeat against nouveau riche Manchester City by beating Stoke City away, The Manchester Reds were now a massive fifteen points ahead of Roberto Mancini´s side with one more game completed. Stoke City Team: Asmir Begovic, Robert Huth, Ryan Shotton, Andy Wilkinson, Ryan Shawcross, Geoff Cameron, Charlie Adam, Steven N’Zonzi, Glenn Whelan, Jon Walters, Kenwyne Jones. Substitutes: Wilson Palacios, Dean Whitehead, Michael Kightly, Peter Crouch, Cameron Jerome, Michael Owen, Thomas Sorensen. Manchester United Team: David de Gea, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez, Antonio Valencia, Shinji Kagawa, Robin van Persie. Substitutes: Jonny Evans, Ryan Giggs, Alexander Buttner, Chris Smalling, Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck, Anders Lindegaard.