Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Welbeck leads Red Devils rout

Wayne Rooney

Local boy Danny Welbeck led a second-half scoring spree as Manchester United answered the title challenge of neighbours City by downing Tottenham 3-0 at Old Trafford.

It had been a frustrating night for Sir Alex Ferguson's young troops until 20-year-old Welbeck, raised just a couple of miles away in Longsight, rose to guide home Tom Cleverley's cross. Welbeck's impudent back-heel set up Anderson for the second and Tottenham had given the game up for dead by the time Wayne Rooney netted from close range.

It leaves United trailing City by the narrowest of goal difference margins and whilst this might be a ridiculously early stage of the season, it is clear they have no intention of meekly bowing to the firepower the Blues have unleashed over the past couple of weeks.

With Ferguson sticking to his pledge of naming Phil Jones and Jonny Evans as the replacements for injured duo Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, United's major surprise came on the bench, where Javier Hernandez was included two weeks earlier than expected after a bout of concussion.

Rafael van der Vaart and Niko Kranjcar started to get hold of the ball in areas of some concern so, after a difficult start to his time in England, David de Gea picked the perfect time to show off the ability that persuaded Ferguson to pay £18million to sign him from Atletico Madrid.

Either side of half-time, Brad Friedel denied former Aston Villa team-mate Ashley Young with smart stops as United, who dropped just two points on home soil throughout last season, struggled to impose themselves.

After skipping clear of a stumbling Patrice Evra, Aaron Lennon could have rolled a pass to an unmarked Van der Vaart, who was screaming on his inside. Instead, he attempted to drill a cross through a crowded penalty area and succeeded only in blasting straight at Evans.

Appearing to run down a blind alley, Cleverley whipped over a superb cross for Welbeck, who rose majestically between Michael Dawson and Younes Kaboul to glance a fine header into the corner.

United were worthy of their second, which came thanks to a brilliant piece of skill from Welbeck, who returned Anderson's pass with an impudent back heel that the Brazilian coolly finished into the bottom corner.

It wasn't quite plain sailing as De Gea's struggles under the high ball returned to present Jermain Defoe with a chance that he smacked against the post. But with Friedel saving from Nani and Rooney scooping over from three yards, United remained on top. Rooney's late header merely emphasised their superiority.

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