United stay on top as they brush Stoke aside

How does he do it? Whether it’s with his face, the back of his head or the stunning way Chicharito took his goal against Stoke City, he always seems to improvise a way to find the net! It’s pure instinct, a thing that some players are born with and cannot be coached. Despite scoring their first goal at Old Trafford since 1980, the visitors still went back home empty handed while United are assured of staying on top of the table irrespective of the outcome of the Arsenal v Manchester City clash at the Emirates on Wednesday night.

How does he do it? Whether it’s with his face, the back of his head or the stunning way Chicharito took his goal against Stoke City, he always seems to improvise a way to find the net! It’s pure instinct, a thing that some players are born with and cannot be coached. Despite scoring their first goal at Old Trafford since 1980, the visitors still went back home empty handed while United are assured of staying on top of the table irrespective of the outcome of the Arsenal v Manchester City clash at the Emirates on Wednesday night.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson stated before Christmas that if  United were still in pole position on January 5 “We’ve have done well”. Apart from conceding a late equaliser at Birmingham, United obtained full points from their other three fixtures over the hectic holiday period, stretched their Premier League unbeaten run to twenty five matches and are looking good for another title. It has to be difficult for Sir Alex to ask for much more than that.

Manchester United  2  v Stoke City  1

skysports.com – Javier Hernandez and Nani were on target as Manchester United survived a Stoke fightback to go three points clear at the top of the Premier League. The Red Devils dominated the opening period and Dimitar Berbatov went close before Hernandez slotted home from close range on 27 minutes from Nani’s cross. Ryan Giggs put a free kick just over as United failed to extend the lead before half time and were then made to pay as Dean Whitehead pulled the Potters level five minutes after the re start when heading home Tuncay Sanli’s cross.

But Nani won it with a sublime finish from the edge of the box on 62 minutes after playing a one two with Hernandez. The deserved win made it 20 games unbeaten in the league this season for United, who opened up a lead of three points over Manchester City and five on Arsenal ahead of their meeting at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday. Full Report

stokecityfc.com – Dean Whitehead headed home Stoke City’s first League goal at Old Trafford for more than 30 years . . but it couldn’t prevent their brave performance ending in defeat. The £5 million midfielder glanced home a Tuncay cross with his head in the 51st minute to give the Potters genuine hope of getting a result against leaders Manchester United.

They were sunk in the end, however, by a stunning strike from Nani on the hour after Javier Hernandez had claimed the goal that put United in front in the 27th minute. But although the final outcome was a familiar one for the Potters, this was a far cry from the heavy defeats which they had suffered in their previous two Barclays Premier League visits to Old Trafford and they were still in with a shout going into the closing stages. Full Report

manutd.com – Chicharito and Nani twice combined to devastating effect to give United a vital, hard-fought victory over Stoke City at Old Trafford. The Mexican striker back heeled home the Portuguese winger’s cross to open the scoring and, after Dean Whitehead had nodded the visitors level, the United pair swapped roles as Chicharito teed up Nani to blast home a left footed winner. The victory, which assures United of top spot regardless of the outcome of Wednesday’s meeting between Arsenal and Manchester City, was a fitting reward for a sweat soaked denouement to the hectic festive period.

Stoke battled throughout and had briefly looked like taking a share of the spoils back to the midlands after drawing exploiting United’s sloppy start to the second half. That 10 minute lull aside, the Reds controlled the flow of the game – despite dramatic alterations to the spine of the side which won narrowly at West Brom last Saturday. Full Report

Manchester United – Kuszczak, Rafael, Smalling, Vidic,  Evra, Nani, Fletcher, Gibson (Carrick 78), Giggs, Berbatov, Hernandez (Owen 78) GOALS – Hernandez (26m), Nani (62m)

Stoke City – Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Collins, Tuncay, Delap (Walters 68), Whitehead, Wilson, Etherington (Pennant 68), Jones (Fuller 75) GOAL – Whitehead (49m)

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