Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hangin' On: Manchester United 1 - Liverpool 0 -- Player Ratings

Manchester United outlasted a determined Liverpool side that gave as good as it got on Wednesday night, hanging on for a slim 1-0 victory in a third round Capitol One Cup match played at Old Trafford. Handed an early second half lead by a superb piece of footwork that saw Javjer Hernandez turn in Wayne Rooney's cross, United bent but ultimately did not break as the game wore on. Although the victory may not have answered all of the questions swirling around the club's new manager, David Moyes, a victory over the Red Devil's greatest historical rival will have relieved some of the immediate pressure which had built up after the Manchester derby. 

Herewith, our ratings of the players' individual performances in a very hard-fought contest:

De Gea: Came out strong to deny Suarez in the first half, but otherwise had precious little work to do before the break.  Superb distribution almost led to a United counterattack near the hour mark, and the Spaniard used every bit of his lightning quick reflexes to deny Victor Moses' second half header. 8.0

Rafael: Added an attacking element on the right flank that the Red Devils have been missing of late, but was forced to focus on defensive duties as Liverpool chased the game in the second half. 7.0

Evans: Trouble dealing with Daniel Sturridge's speed, a misjudged header and getting a couple of clearances caught in his feet showed the toll of accumulated rust.  Not bad, but far from his best. 6.0

Smalling: Very composed performance in his customary role of central defender. But for one giveaway, difficult to find fault. Man of the Match for our money. 8.5

Buttner: Good headed clearance to deny Sturridge in the first half and generally played better defense than given credit for by his critics. Late giveaways showed he's still learning on the job. 6.5

Nani: Showed more creativity in the first ten minutes of the game than United has seen from the wing all season long.  Flubbed a linkup with Kagawa near the hour mark, and appeared to be trying too hard in the second half. A mixed bag. 7.0

Jones: Rather anonymous in the middle of the park for much of the first half -- not unexpected for a player more comfortable in defense. Grew dramatically in stature and importance as the game carried on, and the top of his head caused Suarez's free kick to brush the bar instead of equalizing the scoreline. 7.5

Giggs: Rushed back on defense to break up a Liverpool attack, but it stretches the imagination to believe Giggs was the best choice to pair in central midfield with Jones for this particular game.  Reined in some of the loose passing that has bedeviled his game of late. 6.5

Kagawa: Attempted to be creative in the first half with some limited success. Seems wasted on the left, but enjoyed some nice link up play with Nani and got stronger as the game wore on. Still, a vast improvement over Young. 7.0

Hernandez: Spent much of the first half isolated, but his goal to start the second 45 showed the natural born touch of the baby-faced Mexican assassin. Made some brilliant runs and passes after the interval, and appeared unhappy to get the 70th minute hook.  Difficult to understand how he has fallen behind Welbeck in the pecking order. 7.5

Rooney (C): Continuing his sharp run of form, Rooney looked dangerous playing in the hole behind Hernandez.  Offered a nice corner that led to the winning goal, and another brilliant free kick almost found the net. Looked dangerous all night long. 8.0


Januzaj (Kagawa): Fairly limited action, and a much more subdued performance than we saw against Palace. 6.5

Carrick (Hernandez): Entered the game to hold onto the lead. Strange to see this happening at home, but then again these are not normal times for United. 7.0

Welbeck (Nani): A time waster. N/A

This is farlieonfootie for September 26. 

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