MOVIE TILL 19 JAN 2018

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BPL G23 : MANCHESTER UNITED 3 STOKE CITY 0

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Antonio Valencia, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku all scored as Manchester United cruised to a comfortable win over relegation-threatened Stoke City at rain-swept Old Trafford.

Valencia, who returned to the United line-up after being out since mid-December through injury, gave his side the lead inside ten minutes, when he curled in a shot with his left foot from inside the box. Martial increased the Reds’ advantage before half time, with a brilliant strike from outside the box after being picked out by compatriot Paul Pogba. Lukaku later got in on the act, when he fired home to put the Reds firmly out of sight midway through the second half.

Going into the game, Jose Mourinho was looking for his first win against the Potters since taking charge of United, after picking up three draws in his 18 months at the helm. His chances of a win were given a boost with a comeback for his recent captain, Valencia, and Lukaku making his first start of 2018.

The hosts started well and had an appeal for a penalty turned down early on, when Martial fell in the box after colliding with Stoke City’s new signing Moritz Bauer. This did not dishearten the Reds who soon grabbed the lead, when Valencia scored with a stunning left-footed shot from sixteen yards.

Stoke went into this fixture with new manager Paul Lambert watching from the stands and the Scot was of course hoping to see his side, who currently sit in the bottom three, put on a good performance. Following the opening goal, they had a chance to equalise, when Xherdan Shaqiri attempted a spectacular shot, but it proved to be a routine save for goalkeeper David De Gea. Stephen Ireland had an even more clear-cut chance to level, but his effort went wide when he was expected to score.

Following the Potters’ best spell of the game, Juan Mata and Valencia provided some good link-up play, but the Spaniard’s appeal for a penalty was again waved away by the referee Anthony Taylor, after falling inside the penalty box.

However, the Reds’ lead was eventually doubled before the break, when Pogba picked out Martial, who fired the ball into the top right corner from outside the box to score his tenth goal of the season. The Frenchman was eager for more and after Nemanja Matic dispossessed Ireland, he attempted to score a replica of his first goal, but this time his shot was blazed over.

The visitors did still possess a threat, and they nearly had a route back into the game in first-half stoppage time. The ball broke to Shaqiri inside the box and his shot required an excellent save from De Gea to keep United’s lead intact at half-time.

After the interval, Mourinho’s men looked to make it 3-0 when Martial was through on goal, but Stoke keeper Jack Butland was able to smother the ball to prevent the Frenchman registering his second strike of the night. Lukaku attempted to get his name on the scoresheet, but his shot from just inside the box was saved by the England international.

Just before the hour mark, Martial ploughed his way through the Stoke defence, and should have extended United’s lead, however his shot from close range was fired straight at Butland. Mata also had a chance after Lingard provided the lay-off, but the midfielder put too much power behind the shot, which went over.

Lukaku had not scored a league goal for United since before Christmas, but he put that stat to bed midway through the second half after he forced his way through the Stoke defence and beat Butland at the near post.

Marcus Rashford was brought on with ten minutes to go, and the youngster’s back-heel nearly made it 4-0, however Butland was able to prevent Stoke’s deficit increasing.

The Potters posed very little threat in the second half with De Gea barely called into action, as United saw out a comfortable win to close the gap to the league leaders, Manchester City, to 12 points.

THE LINE-UPS

United: 
De Gea, Valencia (c), Jones, Smalling, Shaw, Matic, Pogba, Mata (McTominay 83), Lingard (Fellaini 79), Martial (Rashford 79), Lukaku.

Subs not used:
 Lindelof, Rojo, Herrera, Pereira (GK).

Stoke: Butland, Bauer, Allen, Zouma, Ireland, Choupo-Moting (Sobhi 61), Tymon (Wimmer 45), Martins Indi, Shaqiri, Fletcher (c), Crouch (Diouf 70).

Subs not used: Afellay, Adam, Grant, Edwards.

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MOVIE TILL 15 JAN 2018

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Emirates FA Cup Third Round : MANCHESTER UNITED 2 DERBY COUNTY 0

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Two late strikes from Jesse Lingard and substitute Romelu Lukaku ensured the Reds progressed to the Emirates FA Cup fourth round with a thoroughly deserving 2-0 win over a stubborn Derby County under the bright Friday night lights of Old Trafford.

It had looked as though Jose Mourinho’s men were set for a replay after striking the post three times and former Liverpool goalkeeper Scott Carson frustrating the Reds with a number of top class saves, but the man of the moment Lingard finally broke the Rams’ resolve six minutes from time with a cracking 20-yard strike, before Lukaku secured the safe passage to round four with a late second goal on the counter attack.

Mourinho received a double Belgian boost as Lukaku returned to the matchday squad having sat out the win against his former club Everton with a head injury, whilst Marouane Fellaini did likewise after having failed to feature since the win over Brighton here back in November. Both took their places on the Reds’ substitutes bench.

For the first time since United’s opening home league game of 2016/17 against Southampton, it was Friday night football under the lights at Old Trafford and it was a great spectacle.

The Reds started equally as brightly, with Pogba continuing his impressive form which had previously helped his side defeat Everton on New Year’s Day. The Frenchman crossed for another in-form player, Lingard, to fire over, before then shooting inches too high himself after positive build-up play.

Chris Smalling, who returned to United’s defence after picking up a knock against Leicester, made some crucial early interceptions as Gary Rowett’s Derby looked to play on the counter attack at every opportunity. Reds academy graduate Tom Lawrence often provided the Rams’ impetus, looking to impress on his Manchester homecoming.

Marcus Rashford should have put United ahead 18 minutes in after clever footwork took him away from two Derby defenders, but the youngster blasted just over from 15 yards.

Juan Mata had a 20-yard free-kick tipped away by Carson, before Sergio Romero did likewise at the other end as Marcus Olsson’s header looked destined to loop in.

If Rashford’s earlier attempt was a good goalscoring chance, then his next effort was an even bigger one. A pinpoint Henrikh Mkhitaryan cross was met with a deft header at the back post by United’s number 19, but he could only strike the post when he should, in truth, have opened the scoring.

Pogba then replicated what Mata had done moments earlier with what looked like an inch-perfect free-kick, but again Carson was equal to it, diving to his right to acrobatically push the ball over the crossbar and the sides went into the break on level terms at 0-0.

Former Tottenham midfielder Tom Huddlestone had an early second-half effort which deflected off Luke Shaw and flew inches over, before Mata shot straight at Carson and Pogba fired inches wide at the other end. Lawrence tried his luck from 30 yards which Romero saved down low, whilst Pogba again struck an effort at Carson as both sides were being restricted to long-range attempts.

United continued to probe and Pogba again shot inches wide before Carson and then the post denied Rashford for the second time.

Lukaku and Anthony Martial, who had replaced Mkhitaryan and Mata respectively, combined as the latter crossed for the Belgian who headed against the post, but the linesman had his flag raised anyway.

Lingard was the next to be denied by Carson who was fastly becoming the Rams’ hero, before Pogba fired the rebound wide. But the young man from Warrington who is in the form of his life was not to be denied this time as substitute Lukaku fed Lingard who unleashed a fierce effort into the top corner from 25 yards for his 11th strike of the season and his eighth goal in his last 10 appearances.

Lukaku then put the game to bed in the final minute of regular time on the counter attack, as he first brought the ball down on the halfway line, played a one-two with Martial, before slotting through the legs of Carson.

United’s road to Wembley will be made clearer when the draw for the fourth round takes place on Monday.

THE LINE-UPS

United: 
Romero; Lindelof, Smalling, Blind, Shaw; Herrera, Pogba (c), Mata (Martial 67), Lingard, Mkhitaryan (Lukaku 45); Rashford (Fellaini 79).

Subs not used: Pereira, Darmian, Rojo, McTominay.

Derby: Carson, Wisdom, Pearce, Keogh (c), Olsson; Weimann, Thorne, Huddlestone, Russell (Hanson 78), Lawrence, (Bennett 81); Winnall (Vydra 67).

Subs not used: Mitchell, Baird, Martin, Nugent.

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BPL G22 : EVERTON 0 MANCHESTER UNITED 2

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Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard ensured Manchester United made the perfect start to 2018 as the duo netted two quite brilliant second-half goals to seal a 2-0 victory over Everton at Goodison Park.

Jose Mourinho and his players arrived on Merseyside looking to bring to an end a recent sequence of three drawn Premier League games against Leicester City, Burnley and Southampton. And the Reds succeeded in the quest to claim an important three points.

United made three changes from Saturday’s match against Southampton with Marcos Rojo, Ander Herrera and Anthony Martial coming in for Ashley Young (suspended), Romelu Lukaku (injured) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Everton, meanwhile, began the game with three former United players in their line-up, namely Morgan Schneiderlin, Michael Keane and skipper Wayne Rooney.

Both teams opened the contest in lively fashion with the play switching constantly from one end of the field to the other. United steadily began to enjoy more of the possession, but in front of goal there was very little to get the pulse racing until the latter stages of the first half when Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba and Lingard all chanced their luck with long-range shots.

The first half concluded with neither side having caused many uneasy moments for goalkeepers David De Gea and Jordan Pickford.

United went straight onto the offensive as the second half got under way which culminated with Juan Mata striking an excellent drive towards the Park End goal which Pickford tipped over. Three minutes later and Mata was again taking the route one approach with another shot from distance that had Pickford beaten, but struck the outside of the keeper’s right-hand post.

It was certainly a more encouraging spell from United and 12 minutes into the half the Reds got the reward when Pogba found Martial with a lovely pass and the Frenchman wasted no time in taking aim before finding the net with a precise finish.

Everton striker Oumar Niasse should have put the teams on level terms, in the 71st minute, but he headed wide after meeting a cross from Mason Holgate. The home side enjoyed their best spell of the game following United’s goal and for a while the Reds’ defence had to dig deep to repel a wave of Everton attacks.

Then, with nine minutes remaining, United came up with the perfect answer to Everton’s resurgence. Pogba did well to pick out Lingard on the left and the England international steadied United nerves with a driving run and terrific finish into the top corner from the edge of the area.

That excellent strike from Lingard proved to be the clincher and it meant United returned to winning ways and kicked off 2018 in the best possible fashion.

Team line-ups

Everton: Pickford, Holgate, Keane, Williams, Martina;  Davies, Schneiderlin; Vlasic, Rooney (McCarthy 62), Bolasie (Lennon 62); Niasse (Calvert-Lewin 82)

Subs not used: Robles, Jagielka, Sigurdsson, Kenny

Booked: Rooney, Holgate

United: De Gea; Lindelof, Jones, Rojo, Shaw; Herrera, Matic, Pogba; Mata (Tuanzebe 90+1), Martial (Rashford 77), Lingard (Blind 87).

Subs not used: Smalling, Romero, Mkhitaryan, Darmian

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MOVIE TILL 1 JAN 2018

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BPL G21 : MANCHESTER UNITED 0 SOUTHAMPTON 0

Manchester United ended 2017 with a third successive draw after a frustrating stalemate with Southampton at Old Trafford.

The Reds had a number of opportunities to find the elusive breakthrough with Romelu Lukaku heading over and Ashley Young firing a second half free-kick wide, before Paul Pogba had a goal disallowed late on for offside. It wasn’t meant to be for United, who made it a hat-trick of draws in the final fixtures of 2017.

Jose Mourinho made three changes from the draw with Burnley as Victor Lindelof, Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan returned to the starting XI in place of Marcos Rojo, Marcus Rashford and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Pre-match, Jose Mourinho insisted striker Lukaku was in need of a rest, but he looked sharp from the off and should have put United ahead after just four minutes. A pinpoint cross-field ball from Pogba found Juan Mata, whose expert cross was met by the towering Lukaku, but he headed over the crossbar when free inside the box.

Southampton should have punnished the Reds moments later as Sofiane Boufal’s pull-back found the arriving James Ward-Prowse, but David De Gea came to United’s rescue, saving expertly down low.

The game then saw a lengthy delay as Lukaku was taken off on a stretcher following a clash of heads with Wesley Hoedt. United’s no.9 looked in some discomfort and received oxygen as he was replaced by Rashford.

Luke Shaw, against his former club, swung a dangerous ball in from the left which narrowly evaded Rashford, before Ward-Prowse tested De Gea at the other end with a dangerous in-swinging free-kick which the Spaniard did well to punch away. From the resulting corner, a blistering counter-attack saw Mata feed Rashford who slipped in Mkhitaryan, but the Armenian’s cross evaded everyone.

United had a shout for a penalty as the ball struck Maya Yoshida on the forearm as he raced back to help snuff out Jesse Lingard, but referee Craig Pawson waved away the protests.

Hoedt then had a free header from another Saints corner, but he nodded wide before Rashford delayed on the ball at the other end and missed the opportunity to shoot, only for Mata to then fire straight at Alex McCarthy. The Reds would have gone in at the break in front if Lingard had not glanced Mkhitaryan’s left-wing cross wide of the post.

Shane Long had failed to score in his last 34 matches for club and country coming into this one and he should have really put that record to bed five minutes into the second half, but De Gea saved brilliantly with his feet after the Irishman had latched onto Ward-Prowse’s low cross.

Mkhitaryan had a curling effort saved down low before the Old Trafford came alive with the introduction of Anthony Martial, and it was the Frenchman’s direct running that won a free-kick for the Reds which saw Ashley Young curl narrowly wide, via a deflection, from 25 yards.

Dusan Tadic headed Boufal’s cross over before Martial caused panic at the other end, taking on three defenders, but again Rashford delayed his shot.

Southampton recently sold defender Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool for a world-record fee, but they were standing firm at the back nonetheless as the Reds fans became more and more frustrated.

The United faithful were on their feet seconds later as Pogba poked home Nemanja Matic’s effort in the box, but the goal was rightly ruled out for offside, before Lingard had two-half chances late on, which he could not convert.

Failure to beat Leicester, Burnley and now Southampton has left United fans in less than a festive mood, but the Reds must now look to re-discover the winning formula in 2018, starting with a trip to face Everton in a couple of days’ time.

THE LINE-UPS

United: De Gea; Young, Jones, Lindelof, Shaw; Matic, Pogba (c), Mata, Mkhitaryan (Martial 65); Lingard, Lukaku (Rashford 14).

Subs not used: Romero, Rojo, Blind, Tuanzebe, Herrera.

Booked: Lingard, Matic.

Southampton: McCarthy, Stephens, Yoshida (c), Hoedt, McQueen, Romeu, Højbjerg, Tadic (Lemina 81), Ward-Prowse, Boufal (Redmond 85), Long (Gabbiadini 79).

Subs not used: Forster, Pied, Bednarek, Davies.

Booked: Hojbjerg, Hoedt, Boufal, Ward-Prowse.

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