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United 2 Stoke City 0: Berba And Hernandez Penalise Potters

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A penalty apiece from Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov ensured Manchester United strolled to a comfortable home win against Stoke City, which was made even more sweeter what with the news that Manchester City slipped up to a defeat at Everton.

Ben Amos was handed a Premier League debut as David De Gea and Anders Lindegaard missed out due to injury. It was a big moment for the young keeper to impress and get valuable first-team experience under his belt in the theatre that’s Old Trafford.

Stoke started the game brightly with Jon Walters driving narrowly wide of Amos’ right-hand post before Kenwyne Jones struck a volley well-wide after Rio Ferdinand could only clear a Jermaine Pennant cross into the powerful forward’s path.

After withstanding early pressure, United grabbed control of the game as Paul Scholes began to influence the game. First the midfielder was unlucky to see a shot go inches wide of Thomas Sorenson’s lef-thand post before Patrice Evra drove a cross into the side-netting.

Sorenson at the home of his former national hero Peter Schmeichel doing his best to keep the visitors in the game and reacted quickly to Antonio Valencia’s low cross, bravely getting across two of his own defenders before pushing the ball away from goal.

Sorenson though was fortunate moments later when Michael Carrick shot agonisingly wide of his left-hand post from eight yards out after exchanging passes with Park Ji-Sung and Berbatov. It was a chance that the silky midfield would expect to score with his eyes closed.

Stoke were hanging on and seven minutes before the break, they cracked when Scholes’ deft flick sent Park into the area who went down under a Pennant challenge. Referee Mike Jones pointed to the spot and Hernandez did the rest sending Sorenson the wrong way.

Tony Pulis would have wanted his side to keep it tight at the start of the second-half but Walters childishly gave away a penalty tugging down Valencia in the box eight minutes after the restart.  Berbatov stepped up this time sending the ball past Sorenson for his ninth of the season.

With the game wrapped up, United stepped back a gear or two ensuring that they didn’t let Stoke even the slightest sniff back into the game. The mood inside Old Trafford shortly after Berbatov’s strike brightened up even more with the news that Everton were beating Mancini’s City.

Incredibly Darron Gibson had put David Moyes’ men ahead and every United fan to a man was now singing his name, pleased that the midfielder who left Old Trafford just under three weeks ago had scored such an important goal against the league-leaders.

Paul Pogba made an impression coming on for the final 18 minutes and saw a goal-bound effort cleared by former Untied youngster Ryan Shawcross late on before Berbatov somehow dragged wide a shot inside the six-yard box following good by Valencia.

United: Amos, Evra, Ferdinand, Evans, Smalling, Park, Scholes, Carrick, Valencia, Hernandez (Pogba), Berbatov.

Star Man

Paul Scholes again rolled back the years last night, showing that perhaps he was wrong to retire after the end of last season. Games like these are made for Scholes who used every ounce of his experience to create chances and keep hold of the ball. His booking on the hour for a light-hearted challenge on Stoke’s gangly striker was typical of his hunger all game.

By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87