Potters pay the penalty
Published 31/01/2012 | 22:12
A pair of penalties from Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov proved enough to give injury-ravaged Manchester United a 2-0 victory over Stoke at Old Trafford.
Without 11 senior players though injury, including both his goalkeepers, Sir Alex Ferguson gave Premier League debuts to Ben Amos and substitute Paul Pogba.
However, they were never seriously threatened by a subdued Stoke outfit, who failed to respond after they were punished for fouls on Park Ji-sung and Antonio Valencia.
Paul Scholes came close to breaking the deadlock with a shot that flicked wide off Wilson Palacios and Michael Carrick got caught in two minds as he raced onto Dimitar Berbatov's lay-off and rolled a cross-shot wide.
It looked like being a long evening until Park raced onto a short pass from Scholes and drew a reckless tackle from Jermaine Pennant in the 38th minute.
Despite the Stoke protests, TV replays showed the former Liverpool man had fouled Park and Hernandez found the bottom corner with a nerveless effort from the spot, sending Thomas Sorensen the wrong way.
Seven minutes after the restart, United were awarded a second spot-kick when Jon Walters bundled Valencia over.
Despite the clinical nature of Hernandez's previous effort, this time Berbatov assumed the responsibility. The pressure was on but the Bulgarian delivered the goods, beating Sorensen with a shot to the bottom corner as the Dane went the right way.
Without an Old Trafford win since 1976, the meek manner of Stoke's performance was totally at odds with their normal displays.
The champions should have given the score an even rosier glow when Berbatov prodded Valencia's cut-back wide in stoppage time.