By Lee Savery
A hat-trick of goals (but not all in the right end) from Wayne Rooney featured in a feast of goals at Old Trafford.
A match against Stoke City is always a tricky one but Manchester United were able to leave with the three points but once again had to come from behind to secure the victory.
During the week, all the talk was about Rooney and the fact it was 10 years ago that he scored his first Premier League goal against Arsenal. An own goal was probably not the way he wanted to celebrate. However, after 11 minutes, it was Rooney who diverted Charlie Adam’s free-kick from the right after pressure from former red Ryan Shawcross.
Stoke City were ahead and had started excellently and were better than United for the first 15-20 minutes. De Gea had to save smartly from Jon Walters as the visitors threatened to extend their lead.
But on 27 minutes, United got back level and it was Rooney who scored, again, but this time at the right end of the pitch. When Robin van Persie drifted to the left, he put in a superb cross that Rooney met in the six-yard box. An easy header and, finally, his first goal of the season for United.
The home side were now well on top and Danny Welbeck was unlucky not to put them ahead, six minutes later, when his dipping shot clipped off the top of the crossbar.
Just before half-time though, they got their lead. Valencia’s cross from the right was turned in by van Persie as he expertly turned his body to guide to ball into the far corner with his left foot.
United’s dominance was fully affirmed just after half-time when Welbeck diverted Rooney’s cross, from the right, with his head. It was an excellent start to the second half and everyone seemed set to see out a comfortable victory for Red Devils.
However, Stoke City had other ideas and were able to pull one back with ease just before the hour. Michael Kightly ran through the shaky home defence before slotting the ball past de Gea with the help of a post. United’s defence looked shaky throughout the match and it continues to be a headache for Sir Alex Ferguson.
Stoke’s revival however was ended just seven minutes when Rooney scored his second of the match, when side-footed in van Persie’s corner, from the right, at the back post, as the away side defence failed to clear it.
With the two goal advantage restored, the home side saw the victory out in front of a relatively quiet crowd. A likely fall out could come from Rio Ferdinand’s refusal to wear a anti-racism t-shirt before the game at the end of a week where racism was, once again, a hot topic.
The three points are vital for United and now they can close the gap, to one point, on leaders Chelsea when they meet next Sunday at Stamford Bridge.
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