Manchester United v Stoke City –
Final Score/Result: Manchester United 3-2 Stoke City
Man Of The Match: Wayne Rooney
Manchester United grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat as late goals gave them all three points against Stoke City.
Manchester returned to winning ways at Old Trafford in the league with this win against Stoke City. David Moyes and his men were under pressure to perform after dropping points against West Brom and Southampton in their last two home fixtures. For most of this match it looked as if United will continue that run against Stoke, but two late goals completed an incredible turn around.
Stoke City came into this game with their primary concern being the lack of goals upfront. Mark Hughes gave Peter Crouch a rare start in this game and it turned out to be a brilliant move. The tall striker made an immediate impact as he scored from a melee in front of the goal after David De Gea saved his initial effort from Erik Pieters’ cross. It was the first goal scored by a Stoke City striker in the Premier League this season. United’s defending left a lot to be desired, but it was only a signs of things to come.
Although Manchester United dominated possession, they failed to create too many chances through a organised Stoke defence. Stoke on the other hand looked like scoring everything they move the ball forward. Peter Crouch and Marko Arnautovic was causing all sort of problems to the likes of Smalling and Jones, and should have scored more goals in the first half. David De Gea also managed to keep United in the game with numerous saves.
Then in the 43rd minute, Robin van Persie, who was mostly invisible for most of the game, scored from a close range shot as for once the Stoke defence was caught out from a cross. Nani’s cross was headed back across the goal by Rooney and van Persie finished it. But just when it looked as if United will head into the break with this scoreline, Stoke once again took the lead, and deservingly so. A foul by Jones on the edge of the box provided Arnautovic the perfect opportunity to showcase his dead ball ability. The 24-year-old scored from the free kick despite De Gea’s desperate attempt to keep it out of the net.
In the second half Stoke City sat back and allowed United all the possession. The substitution of Arnautovic due to illness was a big blow for them as well. But the home side lacked the edge and spark upfront and in the end David Moyes had to bring on 18-year-old Adnan Januzaj to provide the inspiration. He made an immediate impact as well and United all of sudden looked more threating in attack. But they failed to score past Stoke till the 78th minute of the match when Wayne Rooney headed home from a wonderful Robin van Persie corner. The goal came just at the moment when it looked like Stoke would be able to hold on the lead. Just two minutes after this goal, Javier Hernandez scored the winner as he headed home from a wonderful cross by Patrice Evra. It was another late goal, another late winner and Javier Hernandez was the man of the moment once again.
David Moyes was delighted with the turn around and the late winner. He felt his side deserved the win due to their persistence, but also pointed out the defensive errors that lead this difficult situation.
“It was a big challenge to make sure we won the game but we did it. We showed great energy after the midweek game against Real Sociedad to go until the end. Stoke have not scored many but they have not conceded many either, so we knew we would have to work hard after going behind. I was worried it wouldn’t come – especially when we were 2-1 down. But I think we deserved it in the end.
“We kept at it and deserved to score. We had more than one or two defensive issues but our goalkeeper was fantastic. We didn’t defend as well as what we would like. It may be a turning point – we know we have got to do it in style here at Old Trafford.” – The Manchester United manager said.
Manchester United v Stoke City – Statistics
Wayne Rooney has undoubtedly been Manchester United most consistent player this season and was one again pivotal in helping United claw their way back into this game. He assisted the first goal with a good header towards Robin van Persie and scored with a wonderful glancing header to equalize for the home side. Moreover, nearly everything in attack went through him. The above heat map depicts his movement and positioning on the pitch against Stoke.