Thursday, October 24, 2013

Relief: Manchester 1 - Real Sociedad 0 -- Game Recap and Player Ratings

Photo by JC Medina

Inigo Martinez's early own goal provided the separation between Real Sociedad and Manchester United on Wednesday night, as the Reds narrowly prevailed 1-0 to take control of Group G in the Champions League.  Although United had the better of the evening's  opportunites, and likely deserved the three points, the Spaniards overcame their early shakiness to keep the Old Trafford crowd on edge throughout the evening, never more so than when Antoine Griezmann hit the bar above David De Gea's goal with a nearly perfect free kick before the interval.

Coming so soon after Saturday's disappointing draw with Southampton, the relief around Old Trafford was palpable upon hearing the whistle signaling the contest's conclusion.  Herewith, our thoughts on the individual performances in what was a necessary victory, one that kept the team's collective heads above the turbulent waters swirling around the club:

De Gea: Little to do before the half hour minute mark, when he was forced to make a fine fingertip deflection. Nearly caught out in the second half, but world class reflexes saved his bacon. 7.5

Rafael: Superb offensive cross in the first half went for naught. Displayed both speed and patience while defending. Was wisely subbed off on an evening in which the Dutch referee didn't see a foul he couldn't call. 7.0

Evans: Was fortunate to not concede an own goal near the 50th minute. Still, a shutout's a shutout. 7.0

Jones: Towered over the Spaniards in the air, and used his body as a shot blocking weapon. A generally confident performance. 7.5

Evra: Fell asleep early in the second half as United's defense went wobbly. 6.5

Valencia: Looked in the mood early.  Should've killed the game off at the hour mark, but was denied by the post. A better outing, but still seems plagued by indecisiveness. 7.0

Carrick: Kept the metronome ticking in the center of the park, and helped the home side control large portions of the contest. 7.5

Giggs: Showed his wheels still have some running room, even at age 39. Moments of brilliance on display, particularly in the second half. Got stronger as the game wore on. 8.0

Kagawa: Added a dash of spice and speed through the middle. Provided some nice touches, as well, which opened up space for his teammates.  Could have been on the scoreboard with a one time shot but chose to try for control instead. 8.0

Rooney: Wriggled his way through the Sociedad defense to start off the scoring, and appeared much  sharper than at the weekend. Split Sociedad open with a beautiful pass to Valencia, but the opportunity provided by the Englishman was spurned. Dropped to a deeper role to hold onto the ball when the home side's fortunes took a turn for the worse after the interval, and helped to re-establish control. 7.5

Hernandez: His speed looked a threat early on and added a much needed element to the attack. Drifted out of the game in the second half. 6.5


Smalling (Rafael): N/A

Young (Hernandez) A surprise selection off the bench, to be sure. Didn't quite have the gear required to put away Rooney's goal mouth cross in the final minutes. 6.5

This is farlieonfootie for October 24.

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