Magical United bury Boro
Nani, Rooney and Tevez all on target for home side
By James Dall. Last Updated: 28/10/07 5:30pm
Rooney: Roaring display
It seems everything has fallen into place for Manchester United after a frightening display saw them smash Middlesbrough 4-1 at Old Trafford.
Sir Alex Ferguson's men were given an early setback when Jeremie Aliadiere equalised following Nani's opener, however goals from Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez handed the home side their eighth successive league victory.
United's first came after just three minutes courtesy of an unstoppable Nani effort to leave Mark Schwarzer grasping at thin air.
However, The Red Devils' lead was short lived as excellent work from Tuncay Sanli saw Aliadiere head in off the post.
Ferguson's side, though, continued to pummel the Boro defence and Rooney punished a dallying Stewart Downing to fire home.
Ten minutes into the second half United scored a goal which oozed quality. Gorgeous football resulted in a fabulous Rooney back-heel, which left Tevez with the easy job of slotting into the corner.
The Argentine then put the icing on the cake to make it an impressive 16 goals in four games for United.
Nani had already accounted for Tottenham earlier this season with one blockbuster. Yet even that memorable effort was eclipsed by his latest piledriver.
Taking up possession on halfway, Nani just seemed to amble into the space offered by Boro's backpedalling defence. Thirty yards out, he let fly with an unstoppable shot which flew over Schwarzer and dipped under the crossbar.
Nani's gymnastic celebration was as amazing as the goal and if Tevez had been able to beat Schwarzer with a chip after being released by Cristiano Ronaldo shortly afterwards, United would have been doing handstands.
Instead, Tevez failed and Aliadiere promptly exposed previously unseen slackness in United's defence, arriving with perfect timing between Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic to nod home Tuncay's cross.
It was the first league goal United had conceded at Old Trafford this season and the first Premier League goal Aliadiere had scored for five years.
Any team hoping to gain reward from a trip to Old Trafford simply cannot afford the kind of unnecessary blunder Downing made as he dwelled in possession inside his own area and allowed Nani to toe a pass to Rooney which the gleeful striker smashed home.
Downing's error must have hurt even more given he had come within inches of putting Boro ahead when he met another Tuncay cross with a deft header that bounced wide with Edwin van der Sar beaten.
Not that Gareth Southgate could count himself especially unlucky to be behind at the break. Ronaldo had wasted two outstanding chances and within 30 seconds of the re-start, Rooney had belted another into the Stretford End after a sublime one-two with Tevez had cut Boro's defence apart.
It was a foretaste of what was to come for Boro, although there was one brief glimmer of hope before the game was taken away when Lee Cattermole strode onto Tuncay's lay-off and let fly from almost the exact spot Nani had scored from earlier.
This time, Van der Sar was equal to the effort and before the visitors could threaten again, Anderson, Rooney and Tevez had weaved their magic to create United's third.
As they watched Tevez cushion Anderson's pass into Rooney's path, then stride forward to finish in clinical fashion after the England man had returned possession with an inspired back-heel, there could have been no-one left in the stadium, or anywhere else probably, who believes United's twin strikeforce are incapable of playing with each other.
The pair may be similar in size and approach but rather than blunting their individual edge, it just makes the Red Devils twice as dangerous.
With Owen Hargreaves lasting almost three-quarters of the game on only his fourth appearance since arriving from Bayern Munich, the day could not have gone much better for Ferguson and his men.
|Manchester United||Team Statistics||Middlesbrough|
|2||1st Half Goals||1|
|7||Shots on Target||3|
|5||Shots off Target||4|
Barclays Premier League
|4||West Ham United||8||13|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||8||9|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||8||4|