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Paying the penalty

Posted on 25 April 2009  - 12:00

A two-goal half-time advantage was wiped out in the second half as Manchester United stormed back to record a 5-2 victory at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Paying the penalty

A two-goal half-time advantage was wiped out in the second half as Manchester United stormed back to record a 5-2 victory.

Goals from Darren Bent and Luka Modric saw us go into the break with it all still to do at 2-0, but in a good position to potentially upset the title odds a little.

The turning point came with the award of a penalty against Heurelho Gomes for a supposed foul on Michael Carrick when the midfielder broke into the penalty area.

Gomes looked to have got a hand to the ball and diverted it away, but referee Mr Webb pointed to the spot and United were given the impetus they were previously lacking. They were clinical after this point.

United quickly got to work from kick-off and Darren Fletcher picked out the dash of Dimitar Berbatov into the area. The Bulgarian took the ball in his stride but could not find a way round the speedily advanced Gomes.

After the initial scare the game calmed and the pace of Jermaine Jenas and Aaron Lennon looked like it might pose a few problems to the home defence. It was actually the head of Darren Bent that our first major chance fell to. Lennon swirled over a cross that Edwin van der Sar could not be tempted to come and collect and Bent stole in at the far post and aimed his header from a tight angle against the outside of the post.

The game then stuttered along as the noise level decreased in the home areas, while the Spurs travelling thousands more than made themselves heard. The threat in red was being kept at a distance, while Ledley King did a tidy marshalling job on Wayne Rooney.

A Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick on 20 minutes fizzed in and kicked up right in front of Gomes, the goalkeeper doing well to parry and grab at the second attempt.

With the clock on 28 minutes all but a small corner of Old Trafford was stunned into silence. Vedran Corluka swung in a cross that was not dealt with by Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic and Bent nipped in between the pair before smashing the ball past van der Sar.

Little more than two minutes later a Lennon cross again deceived the red rearguard and reached Modric, who chested the ball down before planting his shot past the Dutchman.

After a third Ronaldo free-kick struck the wall - same as the second one - the winger latched onto the rebound and lobbed a pinpoint shot towards the top corner. Gomes leapt and produced a truly magnificent save.

The pressure was on though, but half-time was reached with us still two goals in credit.

There was frustration in the air in the opening five or six minutes of the second half as the boys pinged the ball around with some good possession - aiming to take the sting out of United's post-interval fire.

Rooney did have a shooting chance before Ronaldo squeezed in the substitute Carlos Tevez, with Gomes saving well with his feet when a reduction of the lead looked likely.

United were building up a head of steam and when Michael Carrick was played through on goal, Gomes came out quickly and diverted the ball away. Referee Mr Webb pointed to the penalty spot...

Protests were understandably long and loud. Ronaldo scored from the spot.

The danger minutes immediately after the goal were successfully seen through but on 66 minutes, Tevez played in Rooney to the left of the area and the England striker shot through the legs of Corluka, beating the largely unsighted Gomes down to his right.

A minute later a Rooney cross from the left cleared the head of King and Ronaldo was in position to nod into the net. Ronaldo's cross then found Rooney again, who was able bring under control and slide goalwards. Woodgate attempted to clear off the line but was grounded and unable to prevent it rolling over.

Bent shot inches wide with a curling effort in a spirited response but the stuffing was knocked out of the side when Rooney's cross was headed by Berbatov in front of goal. Gomes blocked but the ball ran into the shins of Jenas and Berbatov was on hand to smuggle into the net.

Van der Sar then saved well from Keane after Jenas threaded him through on goal and Lennon shot into the side-netting, but it wasn't to be.

It was an afternoon that began with great promise but the points remained in Manchester.