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MATCH REPORT

Posted on 22 August 2006  - 12:00

The team banked their first points of the new season by recording a 2-0 win over Sheffield United in what was a convincing display at the Lane.

The team banked their first points of the new season by recording a 2-0 win over Sheffield United in what was a convincing display at the Lane.

Dimitar Berbatov scored his first Premiership goal to set us on our way before Jermaine Jenas made it eight goals in our colours.

The performance - particularly in the first half - was almost a statement reporting normal service has resumed after the disappointment of Saturday.

There were two changes from the side who suffered opening day defeat up at Bolton - Robbie Keane returned to skipper the side and there was also a place for Teemu Tainio in midfield. Didier Zokora and Jermain Defoe reverted to the bench.

The opening minutes were pretty frenetic with Sheffield United managing to make their half look very crowded by keeping numbers in deep positions. A raking ball from Robbie Keane came close to unlocking the gate on five minutes, but the bounce of the ball in the six yard box defeated Berbatov.

It served to increase the tempo further and Aaron Lennon turned Chris Armstrong inside-out down the right flank before delivering a measured pass across goal that Berbatov applied the finishing touch to on seven minutes - his first competitive goal in English football.

The boys were buzzing, but United were not about to roll over and mounted a spirited response. However, the were undone by a superb piece of work on 16 minutes.

Keane hooked a high ball in the direction of Berbatov who, in turn, nodded it into the path of the advancing Jermaine Jenas. Paddy Kenny came quickly off his line but was unable to prevent the midfielder skipping around him and prodding the ball into an inviting empty net.

Berbatov was looking the part, a physical menace who provides a focal point in attack, one who links up extremely effectively and brings his teammates into play. If the opening 20 minutes was a preview of things to come, then bring it on.

Lennon was an equally dynamic presence on the pitch, striking terror into his marker every time he picked up the ball. It was the Bulgarian who nearly made it three coming up to the half hour mark when Keane spooned his shot on goal and the ball fell in front of the new boy who prodded firmly goalwards, but Kenny made a smart save to his right.

The second period took a little while to bubble to the boil and it wasn't until ten minutes in that Keane and Berbatov combined to present Lee Young-Pyo with a clear strike on goal from a cut-back. The South Korean slashed at his effort and the ball sailed high.

Keane really should have opened his account for the season on the hour when a Lennon dash led to a pass to him in front of goal. Somehow the captain for the night sliced his sidefoot wide.

United piled on a bit of pressure as the clock ticked towards the last 20 minutes and Martin responded to the direct offensive threat by introducing Zokora to add a bit of muscle in the middle. Tainio was made way for the star from the Ivory Coast.

There was another chance for Keane with ten minutes to go, Jenas turning provider with a clever ball across the area. The scorer of 16 goals last term will have to wait a little longer this time around as he opted for precision rather than power and got it wrong. He was replaced by Defoe a few moments later, having sustained a kick not long before.

Defoe didn't take long to make his presence felt, testing Kenny low to his left almost straight away, followed by a piledriver from 20-odd yards where the keeper again showed good reactions. The little striker teed up Davids for a potshot in stoppage time, but his powerful strike grazed the top of the bar.

It could have been more, but two it was - maybe a few have been saved for Saturday!