United steal a march on Rangers
Written By: Robert Halter
With the Red Devils missing the injured Robin Van Persie, it gave Radamel Falcao a start along side Wayne Rooney, as Manchester United looked to continue their thirteen game unbeaten run against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road in mid January. A low drive by Michael Carrick on nine minutes was the first test for Rob Green in the Hoops goal but he held onto the ball comfortably, after an early indication of intent from the Red Devils. But three minutes later, a double block by Green kept out the goal poaching Falcao, after his two strikes were kept out, when an unmarked Falcao lurked at the far post, as the ball was floated in by Juan Mata. Following a foul throw by Antonio Valencia, the R’s tried to take advantage from a Clint Hill throw in and knock down by Bobby Zamora but the ball was pulled over the upright by Eduardo Vargas on seventeen minutes. But within two minutes, QPR pressed again, as the ball was played through by Zamora and then from a snap shot by Charlie Austin, United keeper David De Gea, sprung into action, to turn away Austin’s in swinging shot. But on the half hour mark, as Hoops captain, Joey Barton, sent a ball over the top, Austin met the ball with a ferocious volley, that De Gea from the Theatre of Dreams produced a theatrical save to tip the strike over. Before the second half resumed, Man U replaced Mata with Marouane Fellaini and Rangers brought on Steven Caulker for Richard Dunne. Six minutes into the re-start, after Wayne Rooney pulled down Vargas, a free kick was drifted forwards by Barton and as the ball was headed down from Leroy Fer, his effort missed the target by some distance. Five minutes later, Green was at his best with a point blank flying save to keep out an unmarked Falcao header, who had been picked out by a well placed delivery from Angel Di Maria. The Red Devils then took off Jonny Evans and brought on James Wilson. But the deadlock was broken on fifty eight minutes, after Rooney put the ball out to the right and Valencia sprayed the ball across for Fellaini, whose crisp strike burst into the right side of the net, as United eventually showed their class. The R’s were struggling to find a route back into the game, as Vargas was unable to trouble De Gea, from long range which was swiftly followed by a hook shot over the bar by Fer in the sixty fifth minute. QPR made another change by replacing Fer with Adel Taarabt. In the seventy fifth minute, Danny Blind orchestrated a fine United move and as Wilson pulled the ball across from the right side, the ball missed Falcao’s outstretched leg. A minute later, Wilson returned the favour again but this time the ball missed the head of Falcao. The Hoops then replaced Zamora with Niko Kranjcar. On eighty four minutes, Blind sent over a cross shot from the left side line which flew past the crossbar. In added time, Barton’s neat touch, gave Mauricio Isla, the chance to rescue a point but his near post strike was blocked on the line with a double footed stop from De Gea. However, it was game up for the Hoops when Di Maria slid a pass through to Wilson, whose first attempt was saved by Green, but Wilson followed up the rebound to drill the ball into the bottom left corner to secure a 2-0 away win for the Red Devils. Di Maria was taken off for Adnan Januzaj, just before the whistle blew for full time as United completed the domestic double over the R’s, to go third in the table, leaving the Hoops second from bottom.