January 15, 2009

Manchester United Go Second After Wigan Win A first minute strike by Wayne Rooney was enough for Manchester United to claim victory against Wigan Athl

Manchester United welcomed Wigan Athletic to Old Trafford, hoping for the win that would see them leapfrog Chelsea and close to within just two points of league leaders Liverpool.

Yet the reigning champions had to cope without both Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand due to injury, with John O’Shea and Jonny Evans deputising in defence.

Steve Bruce’s Wigan, meanwhile, arrived at Old Trafford in the knowledge they had never beaten the Red Devils, yet on a current hot streak that had seen them win six of their last seven games and move into seventh place in the table.

However, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men began the game in determined mood and it took them less than a minute to open the scoring.

Newly crowned FIFA World Player of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo crossing from the right for Wayne Rooney to sweep past Chris Kirkland to give the home side the perfect start.

It was to be the striker’s most meaningful contribution of the match as minutes later, he hobbled off to be replaced by Carlos Tevez.

Indeed Tevez almost doubled United’s lead just shy of the half hour mark. A poor kick by Chris Kirkland was headed to the Argentinean by John O’Shea and although he rounded the Wigan goalkeeper he couldn’t capitalise.

Yet the home side couldn’t add to their lead and Wigan looked dangerous at times; Ryan Taylor having their best chance of the first half however he wasted the opportunity by firing over when well-placed.

The visitors grew into the game after the break with Maynor Figueroa, Wigan’s match winner against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, sending a warning to the home side with a firm shot that was just too close to Van der Sar to trouble the United keeper.

In stark contrast, United were looking flat and far from the side that cruised past Chelsea at the weekend.

With time running out Steve Bruce replaced Amr Zaki with Henri Camara as the visitors began to pile on the pressure as they sought an equaliser.

Yet with five minutes to remaining, United might have made the game safe. The home side finally got their passing game moving with Ronaldo finding Berbatov whose curling shot flew inches wide of Kirkland’s goal.

Wigan continued to press in the final minutes but the champions who had been well below-par, held on to claim a vital three points that sees them move ominously into second place in the Premier League.

Manchester United: Van der Sar, Rafael, Vidic, Evans, O’Shea, Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes (Fletcher, 85), Nani (Anderson, 59), Berbatov, Rooney (Tevez, 7)

Wigan Athletic: Kirkland, Melchiot, Scharner, Bramble, Figueroa, Valencia, Palacios, Cattermole (Kapo, 88), Taylor (De Ridder, 80), Heskey, Zaki (Camara, 75)


1-0 Manchester United (Rooney, 1)

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