Ole Gunnar Hernandez vs VillaBy: Ian | November 11th, 2012
Utd went to Villa Park on Saturday with a pretty good record. It’s like a second home ground for the Reds. Statistically, Villa should probably feel more comfortable with an away fixture. But there was no harm in trying to reverse the trend with their youthful team, and after putting their all into the game, they very nearly did.
The first half was a pretty dull affair. A huge gap of basically the entire half separated an early Carrick header and a long range Rooney shot. Aston Villa’s persistent play was more effective and Weimann had a good chance to feed through a final pass in a three-on-two Villa attack. He failed on that occasion, but the intent was there.
Villa’s young defence were holding firm and Utd’s midfield were finding it hard to break the banked array of claret players. The breakthrough came late in the half, Benteke pelted down the left, turning Smalling inside out. Smalling decided to get physical, was muscled out by the powerful Benteke, who clipped the ball back for Weimann, who powered the ball past De Gea. 1-0 to Villa, just before the whistle.
Cue the most important move of this match. The substitution of the struggling Young for the man-of-the-moment and super-sub extraordinaire Javier Chicharito Hernandez. Before the main show, however, Villa doubled their lead within five minutes of the restart. Ireland fed Agbonlahor, whose cross found Weimann to convert for the second.
Utd needed to find the starter button and it was Scholes who found it. His delicious chipped ball found Hernandez, who sorted his feet out superbly before slotting the ball under Guzan for 2-1. It took little time for parity as Rooney found Rafael, bombing forward as usual, who crossed for Hernandez. The Mexican met it well and the ball went in off Vlaar. Hernandez has claimed it, saying it was on target initially. I guess someone at some committee will look at it, but it has really been credited to that most dangerous of footballers: Mr Own G Oal.
Rooney curled in an effort that had to be saved smartly as Utd applied the pressure. Villa were not completely done though as Weimann’s header from Bannan’s cross forced a speedy reaction from De Gea. Van Persie then did the Ronaldinho crossbar challenge, first hitting it with a header from a corner and then from a stunning long-range effort. Could Utd find a winner?
Naturally, they’ve had enough practice now. An 87th minute free kick from Van Persie found Hernandez who’s diving header saw the ball nestle in the corner of the net. A first Utd hattrick for him, in his mind, prompting him to grab the ball, get it signed by his teammates, and then take it home.
So that was that. 3-2 and a very gutted Villa. Their young team, struggling in the bottom-half of the table, produced a determined display that suggested progress on last season’s poor form for them. But the headlines were taken by Chicharito who, after only three seasons, is already knocking on the door of Ole Solskjaer’s goals-from-the-bench record. He is in red-hot form right now and will, by all accounts, be first on the team sheet next week against Norwich.
Thoughts on the match below, please. Until next week.