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Page last updated at 16:00 GMT, Saturday, 26 September 2009 17:00 UK

Stoke   0 - 2   Man Utd

United players celebrate John O'Shea's goal
O'Shea is mobbed by United players after scoring their second goal of the game

By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at Britannia Stadium

Ryan Giggs emerged from the bench to inspire Manchester United to an impressive win at Stoke City as the champions demonstrated their hunger to claim a fourth successive title by returning to the Premier League summit.

Giggs - outstanding in the contentious derby win against Manchester City last Sunday - showed his enduring quality by making the decisive contribution to set up a victory Sir Alex Ferguson's side richly deserved.

He replaced the infuriating Nani early in the second half and swiftly set up a simple opener for Dimitar Berbatov as United finally transformed their domination into tangible rewards.

He then helped settle the match when he sent over a pinpoint free-kick for John O'Shea to head the second with 13 minutes left.

Jubilant O'Shea happy with goal

It was only what United merited for their emphatic superiority, which they exerted from start to finish as Stoke's normally whole-hearted approach fizzled out long before the final whistle.

If Stoke hoped to exploit United goalkeeper Ben Foster, heavily criticised for his uncertain display against Manchester City, they were never given the chance as most of the action unfolded in the Potters' territory and any rare raids were comfortably repelled.

Wayne Rooney was behind all United's early supremacy, but it was the composure and class of Giggs that brought order to proceedings, and three points to United as they leapfrogged Chelsea.

He was the difference between wasted approach play and end product as United ran out comfortable winners at the Britannia, a hostile environment that has proved to be hazardous territory for the top four since Stoke returned to the Premier League.

Stoke's fans were subdued, or at least as subdued as they ever will be, as United ensured they were given little encouragement to create the usual cauldron.

United left Giggs and derby match-winner Michael Owen on the bench - and they watched their side dominate possession throughout the first 45 minutes.

Giggs' Curliest Chest Hair

Nani and Rooney were prominent and signalled their threat inside two minutes when they combined for the England striker to hook a bicycle kick just over the bar with Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen flat-footed.

Rooney swiftly repaid the compliment when he set up Nani, whose cross shot drifted inches wide with Sorensen again helpless.

Valencia was guilty of the worst miss of the opening period after only seven minutes when he caught Ryan Shawcross in possession but lifted a right-foot finish wide with only Sorensen to beat.

Stoke were finding it difficult to make any inroads into United territory, but Liam Lawrence did cause one rare moment of alarm when he flashed the ball across the face of goal with no-one in attendance to apply the final touch.

Nani's first-half display was, at best, a mixed bag and he showed the infuriating side of his game when he chose to ignore both Rooney and Berbatov and shoot hopelessly off target after United caught Stoke with a counter attack of breathtaking pace.

Rooney, who had released Nani before racing at least 50 yards to rejoin the attack, was not slow to demonstrate his displeasure to his team-mate.

Nani showed his more acceptable face when he forced Sorensen into a fine save two minutes before the break as the Stoke keeper dived spectacularly to his left to turn away his angled effort.

Tony Pulis

Pulis pays tribute to 'best' team

The Portuguese winger summed up his display with a piece of poor control that brought taunts of "you'll never be Ronaldo" from Stoke City's fans. And when he followed up by wasting a promising position with a cross straight into the hands of Sorensen, it was the final straw for Ferguson, who immediately hauled him off.

It was a predictable move, and one which brought dividends within six minutes as Giggs showed the composure and common sense that had been lacking in Nani to set up the opener for Berbatov after 62 minutes.

He collected Darren Fletcher's superb pass before demonstrating to the watching Nani that football is essentially a simple game, laying on an open invitation for Berbatov to score from close range.

Stoke's fans pleaded for Paul Scholes, who had earlier been cautioned for a foul on Lawrence, to be shown the red card when he handled a cross, but referee Howard Webb showed restraint and the United midfield man escaped further censure.

United keeper Foster had barely been troubled, and Stoke boss Tony Pulis recognised the need for greater cutting edge when he introduced Tuncay and James Beattie for David Kitson and Dean Whitehead with 19 minutes remaining.

Any possible impact the pair could have had was effectively snuffed out as United doubled their lead through O'Shea after 77 minutes - and once again Giggs was the creator with a vicious free-kick that the defender flicked beyond Sorensen.

United saw out the rest of the game in comfort as they delivered an ominous message to those hoping to take the Premier League away from Old Trafford.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis:
"The best team won.

"For us to compete against a team like Manchester United we need everybody to be at their maximum. Instead I felt we were flat right from the start.

"They (Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes) are both great players but Scholes was magnificent.

"He was the best player on the pitch by a country mile. Then Giggs makes the two goals.

"You can only respect and admire them. They are absolutely fantastic players."

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson:
"There is a long way to go but it has been a good day for us.

"Ryan Giggs is important and he made the goals.

"I felt his intelligence would give them a bit of bother on that side of the pitch. Nani did pretty well but Ryan gives you something else.

"He has the intelligence to take up good positions. For the first goal he went on a lovely run behind their defence and the second was an excellent free-kick."

Live text and stats


Saturday, 26 September 2009

Premier League

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Stoke 0-2 Man Utd FT
(HT 0-0)
    • Berbatov 62
    • O'Shea 77



    Man Utd


    Ref: WebbAtt: 27,500


    • Stoke 39%
    • Man Utd 61%

    Attempts on target

    • Stoke 1
    • Man Utd 7

    Attempts off target

    • Stoke 1
    • Man Utd 6


    • Stoke 2
    • Man Utd 7


    • Stoke 9
    • Man Utd 8
    • Final Result
    • Full Time
    • 90:00+4:04 The final whistle goes and the game is over.
    • 90:00+3:44 Glenn Whelan gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nemanja Vidic. Michael Carrick takes the direct free kick.
    • 90:00+3:09 Corner taken short by Ryan Giggs.
    • 90:00+2:46 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Ryan Giggs from the right by-line to the near post, James Beattie makes a clearance.
    • 85:08 Substitution Danny Pugh on for Liam Lawrence.
    • 83:50 Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Ryan Giggs.
    • 82:54 Liam Lawrence gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Patrice Evra. Direct free kick taken by Ryan Giggs.
    • 81:18 Michael Owen is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Thomas Sorensen takes the free kick.
    • 79:27 Substitution Paul Scholes goes off and Michael Carrick comes on.
    • 79:27 Substitution Wayne Rooney leaves the field to be replaced by Michael Owen.
    • 79:12 Effort on goal by Ryan Giggs from deep inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.
    • 77:56 Foul by Patrice Evra on Liam Lawrence, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Liam Lawrence.
    • Correction - 76:09 Ryan Giggs provided the assist for the goal.
    • Correction - 76:09 GOAL - John O'SheaStoke 0 - 2 Man Utd John O'Shea scores a headed goal from close in. Stoke 0-2 Man Utd.
    • 76:09 The assist for the goal came from Ryan Giggs.
    • 76:09 GOAL - John O'SheaStoke 0 - 2 Man Utd John O'Shea grabs a headed goal from close range. Stoke 0-2 Man Utd.
    • Correction - 75:38 Rory Delap challenges Darren Fletcher unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed by Ryan Giggs,
    • 75:38 Rory Delap gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Darren Fletcher. Free kick crossed left-footed by Ryan Giggs,
    • 74:43 Foul by Tuncay Sanli on Nemanja Vidic, free kick awarded. Ben Foster takes the free kick.
    • 74:33 Thomas Sorensen fouled by Dimitar Berbatov, the ref awards a free kick. Thomas Sorensen takes the free kick.
    • 71:37 Substitution Tuncay Sanli comes on in place of Dean Whitehead.
    • 71:37 Substitution Dave Kitson goes off and James Beattie comes on.
    • 67:23 Wayne Rooney takes a shot from deep inside the box clearing the bar.
    • 63:37 Abdoulaye Faye produces a header from deep inside the six-yard box that clears the crossbar.
    • 63:08 Paul Scholes is adjudged to have handled the ball. Free kick crossed right-footed by Liam Lawrence.
    • 61:07 The assist for the goal came from Ryan Giggs.
    • 61:07 GOAL - Dimitar BerbatovStoke 0 - 1 Man Utd A goal is scored by Dimitar Berbatov from inside the six-yard box low into the middle of the goal. Stoke 0-1 Man Utd.
    • 57:38 Liam Lawrence takes the free kick.
    • 57:38 Booking Paul Scholes receives a yellow card.
    • 57:29 Paul Scholes concedes a free kick for a foul on Liam Lawrence.
    • 56:27 Dave Kitson is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. Paul Scholes takes the direct free kick.
    • 54:48 Substitution Ryan Giggs is brought on as a substitute for Luis Nani.
    • 53:24 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Danny Collins by Darren Fletcher. Danny Collins takes the free kick.
    • 50:23 Shot by Liam Lawrence from 25 yards. Save by Ben Foster.
    • 49:47 Antonio Valencia challenges Glenn Whelan unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Liam Lawrence.
    • 46:01 The offside flag is raised against Wayne Rooney. Indirect free kick taken by Thomas Sorensen.
    • 45:01 The second half kicks off.
    • Half Time
    • 45:00+2:15 The ref blows to end the first period.
    • 45:00+1:49 Corner taken by Liam Lawrence.
    • 44:15 Dimitar Berbatov takes a shot. Blocked by Ryan Shawcross.
    • 43:16 Effort from 20 yards by Luis Nani. Save by Thomas Sorensen.
    • 43:04 Wayne Rooney has an effort at goal. Glenn Whelan gets a block in.
    • 40:34 Short corner taken by Luis Nani.
    • 36:53 Corner taken short by Luis Nani.
    • 35:34 Ryan Shawcross challenges Dimitar Berbatov unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Luis Nani.
    • 30:23 Glenn Whelan concedes a free kick for a foul on Luis Nani. Patrice Evra restarts play with the free kick.
    • 27:58 Paul Scholes restarts play with the free kick.
    • 27:58 Booking The referee cautions Robert Huth for unsporting behaviour.
    • 27:49 Darren Fletcher fouled by Robert Huth, the ref awards a free kick.
    • 24:56 Shot from 12 yards from Patrice Evra. Save by Thomas Sorensen.
    • 24:08 Unfair challenge on Darren Fletcher by Rory Delap results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Paul Scholes.
    • 19:20 Corner taken by Luis Nani from the left by-line, clearance by Ryan Shawcross.
    • 17:00 Effort on goal by Luis Nani from just inside the penalty area goes over the target.
    • 16:16 Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Liam Lawrence, Dimitar Berbatov makes a clearance.
    • 14:27 Darren Fletcher concedes a free kick for a foul on Dean Whitehead. Glenn Whelan takes the direct free kick.
    • 11:40 Unfair challenge on Glenn Whelan by Paul Scholes results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Abdoulaye Faye.
    • 9:41 The offside flag is raised against Matthew Etherington. Ben Foster takes the indirect free kick.
    • 7:16 Effort from deep inside the area by Antonio Valencia misses to the left of the goal.
    • 6:36 Luis Nani produces a right-footed shot from inside the area that goes over the bar.
    • 6:17 Luis Nani decides to take the corner short.
    • 5:14 Foul by Dean Whitehead on Darren Fletcher, free kick awarded. Paul Scholes takes the direct free kick.
    • 4:05 Shot by Paul Scholes. Blocked by Glenn Whelan.
    • 2:43 Luis Nani gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ryan Shawcross. Direct free kick taken by Abdoulaye Faye.
    • 2:04 Effort from deep inside the area by Wayne Rooney clears the bar.
    • 0:00 The game gets underway.

    Live text and data provided by The Press Association.

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    Premier League results

    26 Sep 2009 23:59 UK

    Home Team Score Away Team Time
    Birmingham 1-2 Bolton R
    Blackburn 2-1 Aston Villa R
    Fulham 0-1 Arsenal R
    Liverpool 6-1 Hull R
    Portsmouth 0-1 Everton R
    Stoke 0-2 Man Utd R
    Tottenham 5-0 Burnley R
    Wigan 3-1 Chelsea R

    Premier League table snapshot

    As it stood on 26 Sep 2009 23:59 UK

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

    see also
    Saturday football as it happened
    26 Sep 09 |  Football
    Saturday's football photos
    27 Sep 09 |  Premier League

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