Belfast Telegraph

Radamel Falcao now ready to fire at will for Manchester United

Carrick backs Colombian to inspire United but admits draw at Villa was a great chance lost

By Nick Mashiter

Michael Carrick has backed Radamel Falcao to hit the goal trail and spearhead Manchester United's title charge.

But the midfielder admitted they blew their chance to extend their winning streak to seven games after drawing 1-1 at Aston Villa.

United were held at Villa Park on Saturday, despite the hosts having Gabby Agbonlahor sent off with 25 minutes left.

Christian Benteke had put Villa ahead against the run of play before Falcao scored his second United goal to level.

And England man Carrick believes the Colombian, who has struggled for fitness this season, is now ready to fire.

"He's scored so many goals over the years and you feel when he gets the chance he'll score," he said.

"It was a terrific header, so I'm pleased for him.

"After being out for a bit that's him back and hopefully he can go on a bit of a streak now."

Wayne Rooney, who was deployed in midfield behind Robin van Persie and Falcao agreed and added: "It was a great run by Ashley (Young), a great ball and a great header.

"It was a nice goal all around and I'm pleased for Falcao."

But Carrick insisted the draw, which left United seven points behind joint leaders Chelsea and Manchester City and third in the Barclays Premier League, was not enough.

"We came here to win so we feel we let two points go. We controlled the first half and went a goal down from nothing," Carrick admitted.

"We didn't create enough around their box to be a real threat. The second half was better and we felt we could go on and win it but the final cross didn't really go for us.

"We felt we were in control of the game. When they went to 10 men we didn't make the most of it. We tried things which maybe weren't on so that's a bit frustrating as we had the opportunity to put them under pressure.

"We would hope for more but we didn't lose, we took a point and hopefully we can carry it on over Christmas and be stronger when we come out the other side in January."

Rooney had a quiet game and could not hide his frustration after United struggled to break Villa down.

"It's important not to lose the game but we felt we did enough to win," he told MUTV. "We missed an opportunity to get all three points so we are disappointed and frustrated."

Villa manager Lambert meanwhile has admitted he will look to speak to referees' chief Mike Riley after Agbonlahor's shock dismissal.

The striker was sent off after a collision with Ashley Young. It was a 50-50 challenge but was Villa's second red card in two games after Kieran Richardson walked in last week's 1-0 defeat at West Brom.

And Lambert expects to talk to Professional Game Match Officials boss Riley about Lee Mason's controversial decision.

He said: "I will have a call, yeah, and find out exactly because the Kieran Richardson one I don't have a problem with but this one I certainly do.

"There was nothing, you may as well pack up if you're going to take tackling out of the game.

"The two have gone in without any malice or studs showing, that's not a red card.

"The two have gone in fairly but the lad (Young) himself admitted he thought he fouled Gabby."

Villa, who were already missing the suspended Richardson and Alan Hutton, are likely to appeal. Keeper Brad Guzan also questioned the decision but praised the side after they played the final 25 minutes with 10 men.

"It didn't look like a red card from where I was. Looking at the replay in the dressing room, I definitely don't think it was a red card," he said.

"So it's a credit to the guys in front of me that we held on."

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