Match Report: Manchester United 4 -2 Stoke City
MANCHESTER UNITED 4 (Rooney 27, 65, van Persie 44, Welbeck, 46)
STOKE CITY 2 (Rooney og, 11, Kightly 58)
STOKE City gave Manchester United a scare at Old Trafford before going down to a 4-2 defeat this afternoon.
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City were rewarded for an enterprising start when Wayne Rooney scored an own goal from Charlie Adam's 11th-minute free kick. Stoke had chances to extend their lead before Rooney made amends by heading his side level on 28 minutes.
Robin van Persie struck a minute before half time, and Danny Welbeck struck a minute after half time, to leave Stoke with an enormous task.
Michael Kightly's solo goal hauled them back into the game on 58 minutes before Rooney scored on 65 to give United some security in an entertaining contest. Tony Pulis made just one change to the team which drew at Liverpool as Dean Whitehead came into midfield to replace Glenn Whelan who was out with a hamstring injury.
The Stoke boss couldn't have asked more from his side in the opening stages as they took the game to their hosts. Adam drilled over from 20 yards, but City took the lead after Paul Scholes brought down Jon Walters on the right next to the byline.
Adam whipped the ball over left-footed into the crowded six yard box. Rooney met the ball first but was facing his own goal and headed the ball past David De Gea and into his own net from three yards.
City were having the better of the game and threatened again, on 18 minutes, when Walters gathered the ball on the right. He picked out Peter Crouch with a cross to the back post, but the angle was tight and Crouch's header was saved by De Gea at the foot of his near post.
Patrice Evra fired over from the edge of the area before Welbeck side-footed wide after swapping passes with van Persie.
However, Stoke came close after a terrific move on 25 minutes. Walters played the ball to Crouch on the edge of the area and he flicked a pass to Kightly. The winger back-heeled the ball to Walters to free him just inside the area, but the Republic of Ireland international's shot was beaten away by De Gea.
United made the most of the escape as they levelled three minutes later. Van Persie curled over a brilliant cross from the left to pick out Rooney between Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth. The England forward did the rest as he gave Asmir Begovic no chance with a header.
Kightly was booked for a foul on Rafael Da Silva as United began to gain the upper hand. Danny Welbeck fired over under pressure from Shawcross before Rooney headed too close to Begovic after connecting with Evra's cross.
Scholes's shot was blocked in the area by Dean Whitehead before Welbeck came close with a bending effort from the left-hand edge of the area which beat Begovic but flicked the top of the bar.
Scholes was booked for a foul on Whitehead before United took the lead on 42 minutes as Rooney picked out Antonio Valencia on the right of the area. Valencia got a low cross past Marc Wilson and van Persie reacted quickest as he stretched out a boot to guide the ball past the helpless Begovic from six yards.
Half Time Manchester United 2 Stoke City 1
Stoke made an awful start to the second half as United scored after just 50 seconds. Rooney gathered the ball on the right before looking up and sending over a cross towards the back post. Welbeck pulled away from Geoff Cameron and stooped to guide a header across Begovic and into the net.
United thought they had scored a fourth, on 48 minutes, when Rooney chipped the ball across the area. Jonny Evans was unmarked to head goalwards from three yards but Begovic threw himself across his line to block the shot.
Cameron was at fault for the third goal, but began to redeem himself on 52 minutes when he raced back to dispossess Welbeck as the United striker charged into the area. Welbeck just failed to connect with Da Silva's ball across the face of goal as Stoke hung on.
But City stormed back into the game thanks to a terrific solo goal by Kightly. The winger gathered the ball in the centre circle, two yards inside the United half, and drove forward. His surging run took him between Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick and into the area. Jonny Evans came across, but Kightly struck a left foot shot across De Gea and in off the far post.
However, United restored their two goal lead on 65 minutes after winning a corner on the right. Van Persie's delivery rebounded off Shawcross and Welbeck before dropping at the back post where Rooney squeezed home a low shot.
Both sides made a change on 70 minutes: Anderson came on for Scholes for United while Matthew Etherington replaced Walters for City.
Some of the fire had gone out of the game as Stoke struggled to test United as they had in the first half. Michael Owen replaced Kightly on 74 minutes while Nani came on for Valencia before United made their final sub as Javier Hernandez came on for Welbeck.
City came desperately close on 81 minutes as Owen connected with Adam's corner at the near post. Owen hooked the ball goalwards, but van Persie was on the line to head over.
Whitehead was replaced by Wilson Palacios on 86 minutes before the final whistle left Stoke beaten but not disgraced.
Manchester United: De Gea, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Valencia (Nani, 74), Scholes (Anderson, 70), Carrick, Rooney, Welbeck (Hernandez, 78), van Persie.
Subs: Giggs, Lidegaard, Powell, Wootton.
Stoke City: Begovic, Cameron, Huth, Shawcross, Wilson, Nzonzi, Whitehead (Palacios, 86), Adam, Walters (Etherington, 70), Kightly (Owen, 74), Crouch.
Subs: Jones, Upson, Wilkinson, Sorensen.
Referee: Anthony Taylor