United Denied 2 Blatant Penalty’s During 1-1 Draw With Stoke
As Manchester United travelled to Stoke for their sixth game of the Premier League season, spirits were high. On the back of a 3 – 1 victory over Chelsea and a 3 – 0 thrashing of rivals Leeds in mid-week, United would have felt confident of taking …
As Manchester United travelled to Stoke for their sixth game of the Premier League season, spirits were high. On the back of a 3 – 1 victory over Chelsea and a 3 – 0 thrashing of rivals Leeds in mid-week, United would have felt confident of taking home three valuable, table-topping points against a tough Stoke City team, even without the vital Wayne Rooney in the side due to a hamstring strain.
However, a Crouch header and two ignored blatant penalty claims meant that Sir Alex Ferguson had to settle for just the one point at the Britannia, leaving Manchester United’s impressive 100% record this season to drift sorrowfully into the distance. We mourn its passing.
It was an inevitability, and was always a possibility at Stoke considering their record against the big sides at home. A fierce home crowd and extraordinary physicality of the players who get incredibly tight to the opposition, efficiently snuffing out any danger, helped Stoke to restrict United from playing free-flowing football on the floor and creating chances.
Nani’s opening goal came from some very patient play on the right hand side for United, passing it well under little pressure when suddenly a burst of pace and quick thinking from Darren Fletcher and the Portuguese winger created some space to smash the ball home. It was the 24 year old’s third League goal of a very promising season for him, bringing his goal tally up to 5 in all competitions.
If a penalty had been given as it surely should have been in the third minute when Hernandez was brought down by Woodgate from behind in a one-on-one with Begovic, United would have probably been two goals ahead when Nani struck in the 27th minute. The referee, Peter Walton was not feeling in a generous mood however, and didn’t feel that a foul which caused the Mexican striker to limp off with an injury inside the box was a penalty.
Immediately after the United goal, Stoke’s Andy Wilkinson did all Manchester United fans and David de Gea defenders a favour by forcing a stunning save from the young Spanish goalkeeper. We had been led to believe that Sir Alex Ferguson had attempted to beef up his goalkeeper throughout the week to prepare him for the physical game, but despite de Gea still resembling a skinny 12 year-old with a suspect beard, he showed every bit of quality with a great reaction save, preventing the shot from tearing the top corner of the net.
Another save was squeezed out of de Gea before half time, as he dived across his goal to push away a Jonathon Walters shot which looked destined for the far corner. But 7 minutes into the second half, United’s goalkeeper had been beaten, and his clean sheet disappeared. Etherington’s curling cross found Crouch, who had, in turn, lost Phil Jones to head the ball powerfully beyond de Gea, much to the delight of the Stoke fans.
Another Crouch chance straight after the goal was blazed hilariously over, before the official’s added to the comedy by denying United another penalty when an Evra shot hit Ryan Shawcross’ raised arm in the box.
All in all, while United may feel aggrieved about the penalty decisions which did not go their way, the Stoke chances which were missed could have so easily struck the back of the net. There were a few bum-clenching moments for United fans, so a point will not be badly received at Old Trafford, despite the rare occasion in which Manchester United have been restricted to only the one goal this season.
It wasn’t a game in which many players stood out as performing brilliantly, but Sir Alex put this down to the unsettling news of injuries creeping into his players minds and the teams performances. He said:
“In terms of the attacking part we showed some good play and maybe should have scored more. We’ve always done well here, but all the changes we had to make today [with injuries to Evans, Hernandez and Rooney] maybe just unsettled us a bit for parts of the game.”
It is one draw among five other incredibly impressive wins. It’s nothing to worry about.
Watch video highlights from Stoke 1-1 Man Utd here
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