Fresh off the back of a crucial win over Chelsea, United began their Carling Cup campaign with the ominous task of facing old enemy Leeds United at Elland Road. Having not faced their Yorkshire rivals since 2009 and the ill fated FA Cup defeat, United were out for revenge intent on setting the record straight infront of a baying Leeds crowd. With big games in the Champions League and Premier League on the horizon, United were always likely to rest many first team players, and as a result fielded a very experimental line up with youngster Ezekiel Fryers making his first team debut alongside Michael Carrick, Fabio, and Antonio Valencia in a makeshift back four. However, despite a seemingly inexperienced back 4, up front Fergie went with his tried and tested Carling Cup players, with Berbatov, Owen, Diouf and Macheda all starting in an attacking looking front 4.
With a buzzing atmosphere raring them on, United took instant control of the game as Giggs and co looked to exert their superior quality upon a pumped up Leeds side. Despite an early scare as Berbatov was forced to clear off the line, United quickly took the lead on 15 minutes as Michael Owen, making a very rare start, cropped up with a very well taken goal, receiving Park’s through pass, before slotting the ball in off the far post to send the hoards of travelling reds into raptures. With the sting taken out of the game with an early goal, United continued to dominate as debutant Fryers and Michael Carrick enjoyed a very quiet evening in defence, handling the sparing Leeds attacks with relative ease. It came as no surprise when on the half hour mark United doubled their lead, with Owen doubling his tally with a magnificent right footed drive into to top corner, all but putting United out of sight. Antonio Valencia should have immediately made it three for the reds, as the Ecuadorian winger burst into the box, was found by Owen, but somehow managed to slide his shot wide with the goal beckoning.
United could not be suppressed for long though, and on the stroke of half time the game was put beyond all reasonable doubt as Giggs burst into the penalty area unchallenged, before hitting a left footed shot which found its way into the top corner courtesy of a deflection. What promised to be a very difficult evening’s work for United had been quite the opposite, and with Leeds reeling at the half time whistle, the travelling reds were dreaming of a very heavy scoreline with which to goad their Yorkshire rivals with. However, with the game more or less wrapped up, both sides appeared content to accept the scoreline and result which was no longer in doubt, without any injuries or suspensions which could hinder them in games to come. This resulted in a fairly lethargic second half performance from both sides, with perhaps the main talking point the introduction of United starlet Paul Pogba, whom much of is expected, and who played with great maturity and confidence during his 45 minute spell.
United’s best chance of the second half fell to Owen, who was unlucky to not seal his hat trick with a curling shot from the edge of the box, narrowly missing the far post. Whilst at the other end, Leeds continued to be repelled by the excellent Fryers and Carrick, both of whom playing in rather unfamiliar circumstances. As the game drew towards an inevitable conclusion, United welcomed back Danny Welbeck to action after his hamstring injury suffered against Arsenal, a big boost for the reds given Javier Hernandez’s injury sustained last weekend. There was time for a final opportunity for consolation for the home side in stoppage time, but substitute Nunez could only skew his shot wide, summing up what had been a night to forget for Leeds, and surely a bitter disappointment given the weakness of the United line up. Next up for the reds a tough trip to the Britannia stadium to face Stoke City.
Amos – 6 Solid display, had little to do in fairness.
Valencia – 7 Excellent going forward and ample in defence. Proving valuable in that position.
Carrick – 7 Very assured performance out of position.
Fryers – 7 Great first team debut.
Fabio – 6 Slight impetuous and maybe lacking some match fitness.
Diouf – 6 Laboured without any real end product.
Park – 7 Worked tirelessly and along with Giggs dominated large parts of the game.
Giggs – 7 Class first half display, took the game away from Leeds.
Berbatov – 6 Slightly disappointing in a rare chance to impress. Played well at centre half!
Owen – 8 MOTM Two brilliant goals and showed his worth as 5th choice striker.
Pogba – 6 Showed confidence and good range of passing.
Welbeck – 6 Used the ball much more effectively than his predecessors.
Cole – 6
Macheda was forgettable in the game, but to leave him out of your ratings is pretty harsh! 🙂
6 at most.