2014/2015 BPL 7: Manchester United 2-1 Everton


Manchester United head into the latest international break on a high after second consecutive 2-1 home victory, secured against Everton, a side that did the double over the Reds last season.

New boys Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao grabbed the goals to overcome Steven Naismith's reply for the Merseysiders and David De Gea saved a Leighton Baines penalty at the end of the first half in an entertaining encounter.

The Reds were quickly on the front foot with Falcao's diving header from a Luke Shaw cross well saved by Tim Howard and another delivery from the left, by Di Maria, sent over the bar by Robin van Persie.

The shots continued to rain in on goal from Daley Blind, Falcao and Di Maria and the pressure told when the excellent Rafael's cross was dealt with unconvincingly by Phil Jagielka. Juan Mata pounced to intelligently roll an inviting ball into the path of Di Maria and the Argentinian supplied an immaculate finish out of Howard's reach.

September's Player of the Month was denied a second by Howard's fine save when a free-kick flicked off the wall and headed for the corner of the net as United remained in control. However, Rafael needed to make a vital clearance from a corner and Romelu Lukaku escaped Paddy McNair to flash a warning sign wide.

There still appeared to be no huge threat to the lead until deep into first-half stoppage time when Shaw was adjudged to have fouled Tony Hibbert

 inside the box. Penalty expert Baines stepped up but De Gea plunged to his right to pull off a wonderful save.

Despite an encouraging opening to the second period, which saw Falcao unable to meet a driven Di Maria cross-shot and then spurning a clear chance following Shaw's tremendous run past Hibbert, the Toffees levelled on 55 minutes. A well-worked free-kick led to Baines crossing and an unmarked Naismith nodding home in from close range.

Falcao was a central figure in the next passage of play, clearing off the line from Jagielka at one end before sticking out a right boot to divert Di Maria's shot past Howard following some patient work by Rafael and Antonio Valencia. Although the goal settled the hosts again, a raft of substitutions prevented any real flow to the proceedings.

Naismith passed up a golden opportunity to shoot and De Gea brilliantly kept out two firm drives by Leon Osman as Louis van Gaal's men ultimately held out with the outstanding keeper also producing a stupendous late stop to deny Bryan Oviedo in injury time.

*Taken from Manutd.com

2014/2015 BPL 6: Manchester United 2-1 West Ham United


Wayne Rooney scored and was sent off as Manchester United secured a hard-earned 2-1 triumph over West Ham at Old Trafford.

Rooney and Robin van Persie gave the Reds a commanding early lead but Diafra Sakho's effort, also before the break, made for a nervous second half, exacerbated by the decision to send off the home skipper with around half an hour still to go.

With teenagers Luke Shaw and Paddy McNair making their debuts in defence, the Reds made a confident start and were ahead after five minutes. Rafael escaped down the right and delivered an inviting centre that was met by Rooney's clever first-time finish.

The Hammers could have been level within a matter of seconds as Daley Blind's mistake let in Enner Valencia but the Ecuadorian produced a wild shot into the Stretford End. Relieved, the hosts increased the pressure with Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria off target and James Tomkins blocking a Rooney shot after more nice play by the raiding Rafael.

A second goal duly arrived on 22 minutes when the busy Ander Herrera tackled Alex Song cleanly and Falcao, ignoring calls to shoot from the crowd, slipped in van Persie. The Dutch striker eased his way past Winston Reid and buried a low drive inside Adrian's right-hand post. United were flying, as one glorious move involving van Persie and Herrera led to Di Maria failing to apply the finish, but the visitors gained a lifeline when Stewart Downing's corner was sloppily dealt with. David De Gea failed to make a convincing punch and, after Enner Valencia hit the bar, Sakho was left with a simple header into an unprotected net.

The second half began at a slower pace until Falcao collected a Shaw pass and saw a deflected shot from outside the area pushed away spectacularly by Adrian. De Gea also had to make a save, at his near post to thwart Sakho, before United were reduced to 10 men just before the hour mark. Rooney halted Downing's break inside his own half with a crude foul but there was incredulity at referee Lee Mason's decision to show a red rather than a yellow card.

Sakho headed into the side netting as obvious gaps at the back started to appear so Louis van Gaal withdrew Falcao for Darren Fletcher. The Reds lost the influential Herrera to yet another injury as he departed the scene holding his back and it became clear the hosts were content to try to repel the Hammers, without worrying Adrian's goal.

Enner Valencia cut inside to deliver a deflected shot wide and, after referee Mason failed to produce a second red card for Sakho's foul on Rafael, McNair was forced into a brilliant headed clearance deep inside his own box with seven minutes remaining. There was an almighty let-off in the closing stages when Carl Jenkinson's cross was converted by Kevin Nolan but the assistant referee's offside flag rescued van Gaal's men.

*Taken from Manutd.com

2014/2015 BPL 5: Leicester City 3-5 Manchester United


Manchester United twice threw away a two-goal lead to slip to a stunning defeat at Leicester.

Robin van Persie and Angel Di Maria put the Reds ahead within the first 16 minutes, before Leonardo Ulloa pulled one back almost immediately. Ander Herrera made it 3-1 early in the second half, but a controversial penalty, converted by David Nugent, sparked an astonishing turnaround. Esteban Cambiasso, Jamie Vardy and an Ulloa spot-kick condemned United to a defeat that seemed almost impossible when Herrera had scored.

Louis van Gaal made one change to the side that had eased to victory over QPR, handing Radamel Falcao his first start in place of Juan Mata. Wayne Rooney moved to the top of the midfield diamond in place of the Spaniard, and the same back four meant that Luke Shaw would have to wait for his United debut.

The Reds were on the back foot in the opening stages against a pumped-up home side, but on 10 minutes Kasper Schmeichel was the first goalkeeper called into action. Di Maria’s perceptive pass sliced through the Leicester defence, and van Persie’s stabbed effort was parried away by the Dane.

But the Dutchman did not have to wait too long to open his account for the season. Falcao raced away from ex-Red defender Ritchie De Laet to deliver a pinpoint cross that van Persie nodded past Schmeichel, the ball taking a deflection off Liam Moore’s shoulder on the way to put United ahead after 13 minutes.

The celebrations had barely died down when Di Maria doubled the lead with a magnificent individual effort. The Argentinian, receiving a pass back from  Rooney, raced into the Foxes’ area and without breaking stride he lifted the ball over a stranded Schmeichel for a truly sublime second goal in as many games.

However, the hosts hit back within seconds of the restart, Vardy managing to cross from the right just as the ball looked to be heading over the byline and Ulloa, rising between Jonny Evans and Rafael, headed the ball powerfully past David De Gea.

The game’s end-to-end nature continued for the rest of the first half, but United’s pace on the counterattack, in particular from Di Maria, kept Leicester at full stretch. Marcos Rojo spurned a chance from a corner when he nodded the ball over from inside the six-yard box, and Falcao was just short of getting his head to a teasing low cross by the on-song Di Maria. But there was also the worrying sight of Evans being pulled out of the action with an injury after just half an hour, the Northern Ireland international being replaced by Chris Smalling.

The ploy of playing Rooney behind the front two strikers had worked well, and it came close to adding to United’s lead early in the second half. The skipper looped the ball over to Falcao, who with one touch brought it down before flicking it past past Schmeichel onto the crossbar with the next.

The Colombian’s effort would have been another for the end-of-season DVD had it gone in, but there was no doubt about Herrera’s cheeky back-heel that made it 3-1 after 57 minutes. Schmeichel parried a cross to van Persie, whose pass allowed Di Maria a shot that the Spaniard diverted deftly past the wrong-footed Leicester keeper.But the two-goal lead was reduced in controversial circumstances when referee Mark Clattenburg adjudged that Rafael had illegally barged over Jamie Vardy inside the area. The Brazilian right-back had been bundled over by the Leicester number nine just seconds earlier, but David Nugent ignored the clamour to slam the ball into the middle of the net past De Gea.

The hosts then drew level when United's defenders failed to clear the ball on the edge of the area, and Cambiasso latched onto a rebound off Vardy to slam the ball home.

The turnaround shook the Reds, but worse was to follow when Mata, on for Di Maria, lost possession by slipping in Leicester's half. The ball was upfield in the blink of an eye, and Vardy received De Laet's pass in a gaping hole in the middle before slotting home to put the Foxes ahead for the first time in the match.

An afternoon to forget was sealed when Blackett fouled Vardy, earning a straight red card before Ulloa converted the spot-kick to confirm Leicester's victory.

*Taken from Manutd.com

2014/2015 BPL 4: Manchester United 4-0 Queens Park Rangers


Manchester United sealed a first win of the 2014/15 season on Sunday - and in some style - as the Reds, inspired by new signing Angel Di Maria, romped to a 4-0 win over Queens Park Rangers at Old Trafford.

Di Maria, playing his first match for the Reds in front of the home crowd, was in sizzling form throughout and kicked off the scoring on 24 minutes with a curling free-kick. He played a part in United's second goal from Ander Herrera, before Wayne Rooney added a third before half-time. Di Maria then set up Juan Mata for a fourth after almost an hour.

It was a day of debuts at Old Trafford as Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Radamel Falcao, who began the game on the bench, all made their United bows. There were also welcome returns from injury for Rafael and Herrera, while there was a return of a different sort as Rio Ferdinand came back for his first match since his summer departure. In tribute to 12 years of service, the defender was presented with a memento of his time at United by Sir Bobby Charlton before kick-off.

Despite having begun his tenure as United boss with three at the back, Louis van Gaal opted to switch to a tried-and-tested back four with Rafael, Jonny Evans, Tyler Blackett and Rojo the chosen ones. Blind sat just in front of them with Herrera, Di Maria and Mata ahead in a diamond midfield formation, while Rooney and Robin van Persie were up front.

It was Rooney who began the move to create the first real opening of the game on seven minutes with a lovely cross-field pass to Rafael on the right. He slipped the ball to Herrera who found Mata, but the Spaniard blasted over from just inside the box. But after a spell of good possession, the Reds took the lead on 24 minutes through Di Maria. The British record signing curled a free-kick from the right into the box and it evaded everyone, including QPR keeper Rob Green, as the ball sailed in at the far post.

Van Gaal's men were determined to keep the pressure on and after Herrera had a penalty appeal turned down following a tackle from Clint Hill, van Persie headed over. United and David De Gea in particular breathed a sigh of relief at the other end when the stopper came rushing from goal to intercept Niko Krancjar's pass over the top to Matt Phillips. De Gea was thankful to have Evans on hand to block Phillips' effort on an empty goal.

Di Maria threatened every time he had possession and it was his bursting run forward that led to United's second goal nine minutes from the break. As the Argentinian reached the box he slipped a pass to Rooney and after his initial shot was blocked, he teed up Herrera to drill low shot into the bottom corner for his first competitive goal for the Reds. And the game was all but over as a contest on the stroke of half-time as excellent link-up play between Mata and Herrera led to Rooney receiving a pass from the latter before powering home a low drive.

The Reds weren't about to settle for three goals and after De Gea saved well with his feet from Krancjar early in the second period, Mata and Rooney both went close. The Spaniard made no mistake on 58 minutes though when, after being found by Di Maria, he smashed home from close range. It might have been five when Falcao entered the fray on 67 minutes and was denied a debut goal six minutes from time as he followed up on Blind's 30-yard drive which had been parried clear by Green. The QPR keeper recovered well to block the chance and also kept out substitute Adnan Januzaj late on.

Overall, it was a job well done by the Reds with attacking play aplenty, goals, a clean sheet and, most importantly, a first win of the season.

*Taken from Manutd.com

Daley Blind: Van Gaal sees him as defensive midfielder


Louis van Gaal says Manchester United fans can expect to see Daley Blind in midfield in the coming season, but says the Dutchman’s versatility makes him a valuable asset to the squad.

The Reds boss managed the former Ajax player during his time in charge of the Netherlands, including this summer when the 24-year-old impressed at the 2014 World Cup.

Van Gaal is clearly delighted to have the £14million deadline-day signing on board and is looking to utilise his defensive midfield qualities in particular.

“He is a player who can see situations in advance," said the boss, when asked about Blind's best assets in an exclusive MUTV interview.

"He can [therefore] always pass to the free player, and when he doesn't have the ball, he knows when he has to press the opponent. That's a very good ability to have.

“I like him as a defensive midfielder, but he can also play in central defence or at left full-back.

“He can run for 90 minutes too and is always fit. That’s another very good quality for a player.”

Blind's fellow deadline-day signing Radamel Falcao is another player that van Gaal is excited about and one whose progress he has followed for many years.

“He is a player I have always admired. I liked him when he played for Atletico Madrid and saw him scoring goals in finals,” recalled the manager, again on MUTV.

“After that I saw him this year when the Dutch national team played Colombia and he made a wonderful impression again on me. I know him and I know his record which is very promising. I’m very happy that we could sign him on the last day of the transfer window.”

*Taken from Manutd.com

Radamel Falcao: United signed on loan


Manchester United is delighted to announce that Radamel Falcao has joined the club on a one-year loan deal from AS Monaco, with an option to buy at the end of the loan period.

Falcao, 28, became a Monaco player in 2013 after very successful periods at Atl├ętico Madrid, where he made 91 appearances, scoring 70 goals and became the first player to score a hat-trick in a single-legged UEFA Super Cup; and formerly at FC Porto, making 87 appearances and scoring 72 goals.

Radamel Falcao said: “I am delighted to be joining Manchester United on loan this season. Manchester United is the biggest club in the world and is clearly determined to get back to the top. I am looking forward to working with Louis van Gaal and contributing to the team’s success at this very exciting period in the club’s history.”

Louis van Gaal said: “I am delighted Radamel has joined us on loan this season. He is one of the most prolific goalscorers in the game. His appearance-to-goal ratio speaks for itself and, when a player of this calibre becomes available, it is an opportunity not to be missed.”

*Taken from Manutd.com

Daley Blind: completed move to Manchester United


Manchester United is delighted to announce that Daley Blind has completed his transfer for a fee of £14million.

Daley joins on a four-year contract with the option to extend for a further year.

Blind, 24, came through the ranks of the Ajax youth system, making his senior debut in 2008 for his hometown club. He has 19 caps for the Netherlands national team and was voted Dutch Player of the Year for the 2013/14 season.

Daley Blind said: "It is a real honour to sign for Manchester United.

"I have been at Ajax since I was seven years old and I will always have very fond memories of the club and of my time there.

"Louis van Gaal is a tremendously talented coach, I have worked with him at Ajax and also for the Netherlands national team and I cannot wait to work with him at the biggest club in the world."

Louis van Gaal said: "I am delighted Daley has signed for the club.

"He is a very intelligent and versatile footballer that can play in many positions.

"Daley is a great reader of the game, he has played under my philosophy over a number of years and he will be a great addition to the team."

*Taken from Manutd.com

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