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It’s seventh heaven for Manchester United at new Aviva

League of Ireland XI 1 Manchester United 7

As house-warmings go, this was a bit like visiting the most gracious hosts imaginable before realising they poured coffee instead of gravy all over the Sunday roast.

The glittering hosts embarrassed the locals. Dave Mulcahy scored a late consolation amidst the ignorance of a Mexican Wave, spawning Ole, Ole's that hinted at respect, but veered towards denigration on a night when Jonny Evans bagged his first goal for Manchester United.

But then most of the locals have foreign tastes, so few punters would have muttered darkly as they poured on to the streets. Rather than an exercise in realistic competition, this was a lap of honour by a world-class team.

A horrendous 13th minute error undid any pretensions the hosts had of being allowed to settle into the match at anything approaching a competitive level.

Antonio Valencia created the first opening of the evening, dinking in a delicious cross that freed the industrious Ji-Sung Park amidst an ocean of green; he headed meekly and Liverpool fan Gary Rogers gleefully scooped up the offering.

Wayne Rooney, at one-time a potential recruit to Trapattoni's current cause during the manic days of his spectacularly youthful breakthrough in the game, had shot wide before his side's 13th minute breakthrough.

Gavin Peers was guilty of the venue's first howler; after collecting a stray cross despite Rogers' close presence behind him, the Sligo man advanced cautiously, before vaulting ambition saw him crack a clearance off Park's left leg.

Rogers could only watch in despair as the ball arrowed past him. To a Korean, then, the honour of becoming the reconstituted venue's first goalscorer.

A Scouser tacked on a second 12 minutes later to negate the unlikely chance of an incredible upset; Michael Owen's breathless control and neat lobbed finish with his right foot, despite adhesive attention from two defenders, inspiring awe in those lucky enough to witness it at first-hand.

The hosts predominantly housed Bohemians, an ironic reflection of their inability to truly test their opponents; having lost pitifully to a nondescript Welsh acronym TNS, the League of Ireland champions should have been attempting Champions League

qualification this week. Creditably, they held their heads high, chiefly Bohemians' captain Paul Keegan, whose crunching tackle on Rooney confirmed the intention of Alex Ferguson to limit his star's involvement to the bare minimum.

Bohs striker Madden, eagerly eyed by a gaggle of scouts from Celtic, Birmingham and Newcastle, ploughed a lone furrow up front and the visiting notebooks, sadly, would have remained mostly blank. United hauled Owen off as well as Rooney at half-time, allowing Ferguson's new starlet, Javier Hernandez, to demonstrate after just 94 seconds of his first appearance on European soil just why he was so coveted.

The Mexican star, showing the gift for timing and speed that surfaced in South Africa, slammed home a low cross from Valencia with almost dispassionate nonchalance for United's third.

On the hour, Darron Gibson, a likely starter next week here against Argentina in Glenn Whelan's absence, brought a smile to Trapattoni's face as he set up Valencia for the fourth with a delicious slide rule pass.

Park then curled in a fifth before Northern Ireland defender Evans rose to head home their sixth. Nani rolled a penalty home to complete the rout and almost made it eight after a thunderbolt crashed off the crossbar. It was a certainly a night to remember; United have their theatre of dreams and now Irish football has theirs.

Airtricity League XI: G Rogers (G Doherty 70); B Shelley, K Oman, G Peers (C Kenna 54 mins), C Powell; S Williams (R Ryan 64), J Ndo (G O'Brien 70), P Keegan, K Brennan (A Kirby HT); R Guy (D Mulcahy 70), P Madden (K Sheppard 64).

Manchester United: T Kuszczak (B Amos 64); J O'Shea, C Smalling, J Evans; A Valencia, D Gibson, M Carrick (D Fletcher 37), J-S Park (Nani 64); W Rooney (D Berbatov HT), M Owen (J Hernandez HT).

Referee: A Kelly.

Belfast Telegraph


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