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Man Utd   1 - 0   Birmingham

Wayne Rooney scores Manchester United's opener
Wayne Rooney was a constant threat throughout the match up front

By Pranav Soneji

Wayne Rooney notched his 99th goal for Manchester United as the Premier League champions opened up their title defence with victory over Birmingham.

The striker tapped in after his header from Nani's cross rebounded off the post back into his path on 34 minutes.

Ben Foster made a brilliant stop to deny Christian Benitez a goal on his Birmingham debut in the 77th minute.

Substitute Michael Owen missed a chance to open his account for United when he shot at Joe Hart in stoppage time.

Although not one of their most convincing performances, United created enough chances to emphasise the depth of their attacking options, despite the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid.

Rooney relishing central role

Rooney, in particular, was menacing with the ball at his feet, making intelligent runs when his team-mates were in possession.

Deprived of first-choice centre-backs Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, who will have a scan on Monday on a calf injury sustained in training, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson moved John O'Shea into central defence alongside Jonny Evans, with Fabio da Silva promoted to right-back.

Paul Scholes returned to the centre of midfield, while new signing Antonio Valencia slotted into the sizeable hole vacated by Ronaldo on the right.

The daunting prospect of opening up against the Premier League champions convinced Birmingham manager Alex McLeish to start with a five-man midfield, with Cameron Jerome as a solitary striker.

Their defensive tactics offered United ample opportunities to exploit space in midfield, with Darren Fletcher threading a precise ball for Nani to attack on the left after seven minutes, but the winger's right-footed strike was well saved by Joe Hart.

606: DEBATE
A Touch Of Class

Rooney once again pressed Hart into action, this time with a dipping 20-yard strike on 12 minutes, acrobatically tipped over the bar by the on-loan goalkeeper.

Attempting to frustrate United's invention in midfield, Birmingham's defensive intentions unravelled when Rooney put the champions in the lead with a precise move starting on the half-way line.

The striker fed partner Dimitar Berbatov, who released Nani down the left and the winger's teasing cross was tapped in by Rooney after his initial hanging header rebounded off the right-hand post back into his path, with Hart well beaten.

But rather than break Birmingham's resolve, the goal invigorated their attacking intentions as Jerome fired a dangerous 20-yard deflected strike just past Foster's right-hand post.

The resulting corner saw Patrice Evra clear Franck Quedrue's glancing goal-bound header off the line, to the relief of the near-capacity Old Trafford crowd.

Phelan backs youngsters to replace stars

However, the visitors should have taken a two-goal cushion into the break, but Fletcher contrived to side-foot his 10-yard strike wide of the post after an excellent cut-back from Evra on the left.

Resisting the urge to replace Antonio Valencia after a largely anonymous first half, Ferguson instead introduced Ryan Giggs for Nani on the left at the start of the second half.

The change in personnel had little effect on Rooney, whose 30-yard half-volley was destined for the top left corner but for a two-handed parry from Hart.

Birmingham's tactics began to have their desired effect, with Barry Ferguson in particular dictating terms in midfield.

A powerful burst from Keith Fahey preceded a right-foot strike from 20 yards past the right-hand post, while McFadden exploited space on the edge of the box to shoot straight at Foster.

However, the visitors had Lee Carsley to thank when the midfielder cleared Berbatov's header off the line on 70 minutes.

McLeish upbeat despite defeat

The Bulgarian striker could have had a penalty minutes later when Stephen Carr appeared to tread on the striker's boot.

It proved to be Berbatov's final contribution, replaced by Owen with 15 minutes left, while McLeish introduced record £8m signing Benitez for Jerome.

The Ecuadorian striker made an immediate impact when he timed his run to perfection to beat United's offside trap 13 minutes from time, only to be denied by a wonderful one-handed diving save from Foster.

Rooney came close to his 100th goal in the 83rd minute, but Owen should have put the result beyond doubt when he was released through the middle by Rooney's chested flick.

But one-on-one with Hart, the striker's effort deflected off the goalkeeper's leg for a corner.

Live text and stats

 

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Premier League

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Man Utd 1-0 Birmingham FT
(HT 1-0)
  • Rooney 34

    Man Utd

    Substitutes

    Birmingham

    Substitutes

    Ref: Lee MasonAtt: 75,062
    MAN UTD
    BIRMINGHAM

    Possession

    • Man Utd 55%
    • Birmingham 45%

    Attempts on target

    • Man Utd 17
    • Birmingham 4

    Attempts off target

    • Man Utd 9
    • Birmingham 2

    Corners

    • Man Utd 13
    • Birmingham 2

    Fouls

    • Man Utd 13
    • Birmingham 7
    • Final Result
    • Full Time
    • 90:00+3:00 The referee brings the game to a close.
    • 90:00+2:17 Michael Owen takes a shot. Joe Hart makes a save. Ryan Giggs takes a inswinging corner.
    • 90:00+1:46 Antonio Valencia produces a right-footed shot from long range which goes wide right of the goal.
    • 90:00+1:07 Michael Owen is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Joe Hart takes the indirect free kick.
    • 90:00+0:04 Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Blocked by Roger Johnson.
    • 89:30 Foul by Franck Queudrue on Wayne Rooney, free kick awarded. Paul Scholes takes the direct free kick.
    • 89:04 James O'Shea sends in a cross, save by Ben Foster.
    • 86:11 Free kick awarded for a foul by Patrice Evra on Stephen Carr. Joe Hart takes the indirect free kick.
    • 84:51 Stephen Carr sends in a cross, save made by Ben Foster.
    • 83:11 Ryan Giggs delivers the ball, Wayne Rooney has a headed effort at goal from close in which goes wide right of the target.
    • 82:05 Wayne Rooney challenges Roger Johnson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Barry Ferguson takes the free kick.
    • 81:33 Shot from just outside the box by Wayne Rooney goes over the target.
    • 80:52 Substitution James O'Shea replaces Sebastian Larsson.
    • 78:51 Paul Scholes takes a shot. Barry Ferguson gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Ryan Giggs from the right by-line, Roger Johnson makes a clearance.
    • 77:40 Christian Benitez takes a shot. Save by Ben Foster. Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by James McFadden, save by Ben Foster.
    • 75:04 Franck Queudrue restarts play with the free kick.
    • 75:04 Booking Darren Fletcher goes into the referee's book.
    • 74:59 Darren Fletcher concedes a free kick for a foul on Keith Fahey.
    • 73:52 Substitution Wes Brown is brought on as a substitute for Jonathan Evans.
    • 73:52 Substitution Dimitar Berbatov goes off and Michael Owen comes on.
    • 73:20 Substitution Christian Benitez on for Lee Carsley.
    • 73:10 James McFadden delivers the ball, clearance made by Jonathan Evans.
    • 72:25 Paul Scholes takes a shot. Joe Hart makes a save.
    • 71:41 A cross is delivered by Sebastian Larsson, Ben Foster makes a save.
    • 70:43 The ball is swung over by Fabio Da Silva, Paul Scholes takes a shot. Blocked by Roger Johnson.
    • Correction - 70:11 Centre by Dimitar Berbatov, blocked by Franck Queudrue. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Ryan Giggs from the right by-line, Dimitar Berbatov takes a shot. Blocked by Roger Johnson.
    • 70:11 Dimitar Berbatov produces a cross, Franck Queudrue gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Ryan Giggs.
    • 68:47 A cross is delivered by Stephen Carr, save by Ben Foster.
    • 66:26 Fabio Da Silva delivers the ball.
    • 65:16 Unfair challenge on Stephen Carr by Ryan Giggs results in a free kick. The free kick is swung in left-footed by James McFadden, clearance by Ben Foster.
    • 64:01 Indirect free kick taken by Franck Queudrue.
    • 64:01 Substitution Garry O'Connor replaces Cameron Jerome.
    • 64:01 Unfair challenge on Gregory Vignal by Antonio Valencia results in a free kick.
    • 63:18 James McFadden takes a shot. Comfortable save by Ben Foster.
    • 62:16 The ball is delivered by Fabio Da Silva, clearance made by Cameron Jerome. Jonathan Evans concedes a free kick for a foul on Cameron Jerome. Free kick taken by Joe Hart.
    • 61:38 A cross is delivered by Fabio Da Silva, Keith Fahey gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Ryan Giggs, Franck Queudrue makes a clearance.
    • 61:17 The ball is crossed by Ryan Giggs, Gregory Vignal manages to make a clearance.
    • 61:00 Ryan Giggs takes the inswinging corner, clearance by Gregory Vignal.
    • 59:34 Ryan Giggs produces a shot on goal direct from the free kick, Gregory Vignal gets a block in.
    • 59:34 Booking Booking for Gregory Vignal for unsporting behaviour.
    • 59:23 Unfair challenge on Wayne Rooney by Gregory Vignal results in a free kick.
    • 57:38 Long range effort from Keith Fahey misses to the left of the target.
    • 52:34 Fabio Da Silva takes a shot from a long way out clearing the bar.
    • 51:56 The ball is delivered by Wayne Rooney, Franck Queudrue manages to make a clearance. Ryan Giggs takes the inswinging corner, clearance by Gregory Vignal.
    • 51:37 The ball is delivered by Antonio Valencia, clearance made by Roger Johnson.
    • 50:38 The ball is swung over by Ryan Giggs.
    • 50:18 A cross is delivered by Stephen Carr, Ben Foster makes a save.
    • 49:14 The ball is sent over by Stephen Carr, Patrice Evra manages to make a clearance.
    • 48:55 Fabio Da Silva gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on James McFadden. James McFadden takes the free kick.
    • 46:23 Barry Ferguson concedes a free kick for a foul on Paul Scholes. Free kick taken by Ryan Giggs. Dimitar Berbatov challenges Roger Johnson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Joe Hart restarts play with the free kick.
    • 45:52 Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart. Corner taken by Ryan Giggs from the right by-line played to the near post.
    • 45:01 The second half begins.
    • 45:01 Substitution (Man Utd) makes a substitution, with Ryan Giggs coming on for Luis Nani.
    • Half Time
    • 45:00+1:08 The first half comes to an end.
    • 45:00+0:47 Patrice Evra delivers the ball, Effort on goal by Darren Fletcher from inside the penalty box misses to the right of the target.
    • 43:35 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Luis Nani by Keith Fahey. Ben Foster restarts play with the free kick.
    • 42:42 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Gregory Vignal by Antonio Valencia. Free kick crossed right-footed by Sebastian Larsson from left wing, clearance by Dimitar Berbatov.
    • 41:56 Free kick awarded for a foul by Paul Scholes on Franck Queudrue. Franck Queudrue takes the free kick.
    • 40:57 Free kick awarded for a foul by Dimitar Berbatov on Cameron Jerome. Joe Hart restarts play with the free kick.
    • 40:13 A cross is delivered by Darren Fletcher, Joe Hart makes a save.
    • 39:45 A cross is delivered by Darren Fletcher, blocked by Lee Carsley.
    • 38:08 The ball is swung over by Patrice Evra, Roger Johnson makes a clearance.
    • 36:46 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson played to the near post, Gregory Vignal takes a shot. Patrice Evra makes a clearance.
    • 36:20 Cameron Jerome takes a shot. Blocked by Paul Scholes.
    • 35:56 A cross is delivered by Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart makes a save.
    • 35:26 The ball is crossed by Sebastian Larsson, Fabio Da Silva makes a clearance.
    • 35:01 Luis Nani challenges Barry Ferguson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Indirect free kick taken by Joe Hart.
    • 33:34 GOAL - Wayne RooneyMan Utd 1 - 0 Birmingham Wayne Rooney fires in a goal from inside the six-yard box low into the middle of the goal. Man Utd 1-0 Birmingham.
    • 33:29 The ball is delivered by Luis Nani, Shot by Wayne Rooney from inside the box hits the post.
    • 32:36 Shot on goal by Luis Nani from inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.
    • 32:19 Wayne Rooney takes a short corner.
    • 31:32 Fabio Da Silva sends in a cross, clearance by Roger Johnson. Corner taken short by Luis Nani.
    • 30:31 Stephen Carr concedes a free kick for a foul on Luis Nani. Paul Scholes takes the free kick.
    • 29:26 A cross is delivered by Darren Fletcher, clearance made by Cameron Jerome.
    • 29:04 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Luis Nani from the left by-line.
    • 28:13 Corner taken by Luis Nani from the right by-line played to the near post, James McFadden manages to make a clearance. The ball is sent over by Darren Fletcher, Cameron Jerome makes a clearance.
    • 27:00 Luis Nani takes a shot. Joe Hart makes a save.
    • 26:35 The ball is swung over by Luis Nani, Lee Carsley gets a block in.
    • 26:08 The ball is sent over by Patrice Evra, Gregory Vignal manages to make a clearance.
    • 25:18 Short corner taken by Luis Nani. The ball is swung over by Darren Fletcher, Dimitar Berbatov takes a shot. Blocked by Franck Queudrue.
    • 23:56 Dimitar Berbatov is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Joe Hart takes the indirect free kick.
    • 22:45 Antonio Valencia delivers the ball, clearance by Sebastian Larsson.
    • 21:50 Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
    • 21:27 Barry Ferguson delivers the ball, Ben Foster makes a comfortable save.
    • 20:17 Shot from long range by Paul Scholes misses to the right of the goal.
    • 18:43 The ball is delivered by Wayne Rooney, Roger Johnson manages to make a clearance.
    • 18:27 A cross is delivered by Gregory Vignal, Ben Foster makes a save.
    • 16:59 James McFadden delivers the ball, Ben Foster makes a save.
    • 16:38 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Luis Nani by Sebastian Larsson. Paul Scholes takes the free kick.
    • 13:24 Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Blocked by Roger Johnson.
    • 11:58 Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Save made by Joe Hart. Inswinging corner taken by Luis Nani from the right by-line, Joe Hart makes a save.
    • 10:48 Cameron Jerome is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. Darren Fletcher takes the free kick. Free kick awarded for a foul by Dimitar Berbatov on Lee Carsley. Free kick taken by Franck Queudrue.
    • 10:12 Luis Nani takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
    • 9:23 James McFadden produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the target.
    • 8:25 The ball is swung over by Sebastian Larsson, Jonathan Evans makes a clearance.
    • 7:51 Patrice Evra takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
    • 7:11 Darren Fletcher takes a shot. Clearance made by Roger Johnson.
    • 6:08 Dimitar Berbatov crosses the ball, Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
    • 5:54 Luis Nani sends in a cross, Franck Queudrue makes a clearance.
    • 5:03 The ball is delivered by James McFadden.
    • 3:36 Antonio Valencia produces a cross, Franck Queudrue manages to make a clearance.
    • 0:50 Foul by Gregory Vignal on Dimitar Berbatov, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Fabio Da Silva.
    • 0:00 The referee gets the game underway.

    Live text and data provided by The Press Association.



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    Premier League results

    16 Aug 2009 23:59 UK

    Home Team Score Away Team Time
    Man Utd 1-0 Birmingham R
    Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool R

    Premier League table snapshot

    As it stood on 16 Aug 2009 23:59 UK

    Position Team P GD PTS
    1 Arsenal 1 5 3
    2 Man City 1 2 3
    3 Stoke 1 2 3
    4 West Ham 1 2 3
    5 Wigan 1 2 3
    6 Chelsea 1 1 3
    7 Tottenham 1 1 3
    8 Fulham 1 1 3
    9 Man Utd 1 1 3
    10 Sunderland 1 1 3
    11 Hull 1 -1 0
    12 Liverpool 1 -1 0
    13 Birmingham 1 -1 0
    14 Bolton 1 -1 0
    15 Portsmouth 1 -1 0
    16 Aston Villa 1 -2 0
    17 Blackburn 1 -2 0
    18 Burnley 1 -2 0
    19 Wolverhampton 1 -2 0
    20 Everton 1 -5 0

    see also
    Ferdinand targets early comeback
    25 Aug 09 |  Premier League
    Sunday's Premier League photos
    16 Aug 09 |  Premier League
    Sunday's football as it happened
    16 Aug 09 |  Football



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