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Match Report: Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-5 Manchester United (United Fan's Perspective)

Tuesday 20th March 2012
After a pivotal weekend in the title race the previous weekend, Manchester United headed to Molineux knowing they needed to continue their run of good form to extend their lead over title rivals Manchester City to 4 points.

Despite exiting the Europe League at the hands of Atheltic Bilbao, United headed into the fixture confident of getting all three points, due to Wolves' poor run of form which culminated in the sacking of Mick McCarthy. His replacement Terry Connor has yet to find his feet in the Premier League management game and a tough home game against the rampant Champions would prove to be no different.

Manchester United once again selected Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans as the preferred central defensive partnership, with Rafael Da Silva continuing at right back for the unwell Phil Jones. Antonio Valencia was recalled following his hamstring injury as Ashley Young dropped to the bench, with Javier Hernandez partnering Wayne Rooney up front and Danny Welbeck playing the wide left role. Wolves selected former Newcastle man Sebastian Bassong to partner Richard Stearman at the heart of the defence with Steven Fletcher partnering Kevin Doyle upfront.

The match started as expected with Manchester United clearly in the ascendancy, putting Wolves under intense pressure. The first chance of the game came through Danny Welbeck in the 9th minute, when the England international executed a tame shot at Wayne Hennessey's goal. A wonderful attacking run by Rafael almost opened the scoring for United in the 11th minute with the Brazilian full back engaging in a neat one-two move with Valencia before firing a teasing ball across the Wolves penalty area only to see the ball evade everyone.

Wolves registered their first chance in the 20th minute, when an inch perfect cross from Matt Jarvis found the head of Fletcher, who could only head wide although the linesman's flag was up for offside.

The inevitable however happened in the 24th minute. A well worked Wayne Rooney corner found Michael Carrick at the back post to knock it back into the 6 yard box and find Jonny Evans, who expertly fired the ball into the back of the net for his first ever United goal.

Four minutes later Wolves right-back Ronald Zubar launched into a late tackle on Wayne Rooney earning himself a yellow card. Zubar was then shown a second yellow for another late tackle, this time on Danny Welbeck in the 39th minute - making a currently difficult task for Wolves seem impossible.

This feeling was further impounded in the 42nd minute when a wonderful Wayne Rooney chipped pass found Valencia, who broke into the box before firing past Hennessey from the tightest of angles to make it 2-0.

Terry Connor would have hoped his side could make it to the break at 2-0 leaving them with some source of hope, but this was quashed just seconds before the interval when a Paul Scholes-esque cross field pass from Evans found Valencia, who squared it for Welbeck to apply a cool finish from the edge of the box to make it 3-0 at half-time.

The second half began with Wolves knowing that it was a case of damage limitation against a United side determined to reduce the goal difference between them and City. United continued the scoring in the 55th minute when a quick corner from Valencia found Rafael, who floated in a wonderful cross which found Hernandez in acres of space to head home a routine effort.

This goal signaled the introduction of French starlet Paul Pogba. United made it 5-0 just minutes later when a neat passing move between Welbeck and Valencia allowed the latter to fire a ball across the box which Hernandez powered into the roof of the Wolves net.

In the 67th minute David De Gea was called upon for the first time when a deflected Michael Kightly shot forced a reflex right-handed save from the in-form Spaniard. Hennessey then made a good reflex save from a Danny Welbeck effort in the 80th minute with both sides seemingly content to keep the scoreline the same. Indeed, it finished 5-0 to Manchester United.

Another crucial three points for the Champions at a ground where in recent years they have been tested. With Manchester City not playing until Wednesday night, United now sit four points clear at the top of the table with 9 games to play. Sir Alex Ferguson will no doubt ensure that the squad are ready for the rigours that "squeaky-bum time" has to offer.

Man of the match: Antonio Valencia.  A fantastic performance on his return to the first team, Valencia continued exactly where he left off before his injury and tore an albeit bereft of confidence Wolves defence to pieces. Valencia will be crucial in the title run-in and fans hope he will be able to stay fit and keep the good form going heading into next weekend's fixture at home to Martin Jol's Fulham side.
Chris Winterburn

Total articles: 17

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