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© 2008 gdjock@yahoo.com
Monday, August 28, 2006
vs Watford 2-1


United continued their perfect start to the Premiership season with a hard-fought win over promoted Watford at Vicarage Road.
Strikes from Mikael Silvestre and Ryan Giggs on his 600th United start were enough, but United should unquestionably have had more goals for their dominance.
On the back of Wednesday's win at Charlton, Sir Alex Ferguson started Ole Gunnar Solskjaer alongside Louis Saha upfront, with Giggs dropping back into midfield.
Michael Carrick made his full Reds debut next to Darren Fletcher, and flanked by Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo.

There was also a defensive reshuffle, with Mikael Silvestre, John O'Shea, Rio Ferdinand and Wes Brown providing the back four.
The lofty rearguard was clearly a ploy to counteract the Hornets' aerial prowess which had served them so well in escaping the Championship last term.
Watford were deprived of on-loan United keeper Ben Foster, who was prevented from playing against his employers by Premier League rules. His place between the sticks was taken by Richard Lee.
The match pitted the Premiership's oldest manager against the youngest, with Sir Alex coming up against 35-year-old Aidy Boothroyd.
The Hornets boss had preceded the game by declaring that his side were not to show their visitors any respect and they predictably began the game in eager spirits.
Little action took place in midfield, the hosts preferring to bombard the Reds aerially. United withstood the raining balls and began to fashion their own chances.
Carrick played a short corner to Giggs, took the return pass and whipped in a far-post cross which Lee did well to turn over the crossbar.

United should have moved into the lead from the resulting corner, but Ronaldo somehow powered his diving header wide of the post from three yards.
United moved into the lead after 12 minutes, through the unlikely source of Mikael Silvestre.
Galloping up in support of Louis Saha, Mikael Silvestre suddenly found himself bearing down on goal after being released by his compatriot.
After initially shaping to cross, the full-back paused and took full advantage of his space by driving a low effort into the far corner.
Two minutes later Darren Fletcher could have doubled United's advantage, but instead scuffed a long-range effort wide rather than carry the ball towards goal.
United were dominant now, with Saha running riot. Dropping deep into the desolate midfield area to collect the ball, Watford had no idea how to deal with him.
The French striker was denied a goal on the half-hour, with his diving header brilliantly turned away by goalkeeper Lee.United were left to rue that save as Watford drew level five minutes later through Damien Francis.

The midfielder slipped below the United radar and popped up to convert Anthony Young's cross from three yards.
The home fans were clearly buoyed by their side's equaliser, and rediscovered the voice that had been silenced by Silvestre's opener.
Despite that, it was United who continued creating chances. Ryan Giggs failed to convert a couple of close range free-kicks, while Cristiano Ronaldo dragged a left-footed shot just wide from 20 yards.
Substitute Matthew Spring tested Edwin van der Sar just before half-time, heading powerfully but without sufficient direction to stretch the Dutchman.

Ronaldo and Saha both saw efforts go narrowly wide, but at the interval United were still only set to collect a solitary point.
The first meaningful action of the second-half saw Solskjaer head a Ronaldo cross wide of the far post as United continued to press.
United looked to have been let off shortly afterwards as Henderson unbelievably stabbed a deflected free-kick wide, but an offside flag negated their worries.
United's poor defending in conceding an equaliser was upstaged by Watford's own defensive suicide on 52 minutes as the Reds regained the lead.

After tangling with Fletcher, Spring sold his goalkeeper well short with a backpass. Giggs seized on the loose ball, rounded Lee and pinged a right-footed effort into the empty net.
After more good approach work from Ronaldo, Carrick tried a long-range effort but was comfortably denied by Lee.
Soon afterwards Giggs went through again, but his right-foot shot was straight at Lee, who gratefully clung onto the ball at the second attempt.
The game deteriorated into a scrappy affair as Watford blustered without any real invention, and United laboured in their pursuit of a match-clinching goal.

Lee was quick off his line to thwart substitute Ji-sung Park, on for Solskjaer, in a chase for Saha's through-ball. Overall, though, chances were at a premium for both sides in the final half-hour.
United's main ambition became repelling Watford's physical approach, but they could have killed off any nerves three minutes from time.
A great burst from Ryan Giggs saw Louis Saha put clean through, but the Frenchman's attempts to send Lee the wrong way failed, and the goalkeeper held the ball.Despite their profligacy, United held firm to notch another priceless three points and remain atop the Premiership.

Watford: Lee, Doyley, DeMerit, Shittu, Powell, Young, Francis, Mahon (Bangoura, 75) , Bouazza (Spring, 31), King, Henderson (Stewart, 65)Substitutes: Chamberlain, Mackay.
United: Van der Sar, O'Shea, Ferdinand, Brown, Silvestre, Fletcher, Carrick (Richardson, 75), Ronaldo, Giggs, Saha, Solskjaer (Park, 60).Substitutes: Kuszczak, Evra, Rossi.


Goal Scorers & Times:
MANCHESTER UNITED 12' M Silvestre
WATFORD 34' D Francis
MANCHESTER UNITED 52' R Giggs

Cautions / Yellow cards: WATFORD 40' G Mahon Yellow Unsporting behaviour
MANCHESTER UNITED 79' K Richardson Yellow Dissent

Rival Watch:
Chelsea 2-0 B'burn
Arsenal 1-0 Man City (yay!)
Liverpool 2-1 Wast Ham
posted at 3:05 PM  

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