Man United   1

Berbatov (68)

Middlesbrough   0

29 December 2008

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Man United
1Van der Sar
2Rafaelsub2
15Vidic
6Evans
22O'Shea
7Ronaldosub11
16Carrick
24Fletchersub18
7Parkyellow card
10Rooney
9Berbatovgoal
Subs:
29Kuszczak
2Nevillesub2
11Giggssub7
18Scholessub24yellow card
19Welbeck
28Gibson
34Possebon
Middlesbrough
22Turnbull
26Bates
5Riggott
31Wheater
18Pogatetz
11Aliadieresub11
20Arca
32O'Neil
19Downing
9Sanli
12Alves
Subs:
1Jones
33Taylor
11Emnessub11
4Huth
14Shawky
41Walker
33Porritt

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29/12/2008 21:53, Report by Ben Hibbs
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United 1 Middlesbrough 0

minutes, with a shot that the Boro goalkeeper palmed away. Seconds later Ronaldo’s jinking turn and cross forced another intervention from the Boro stopper. On 15 minutes the Reds winger’s free-kick, left of the area and 25 yards from goal, fizzed wide, while a second, deflected Ronaldo set-piece worried Turnbull as he tracked its rerouted flight into his arms.

It took Boro until midway through the half to register an effort on goal. A smart feint from Afonso Alves evaded Rafael and Nemanja Vidic’s attentions, but his shot was high and wide. United immediately countered with a neat one-two between Berbatov and Rooney allowing the Englishman to cut the ball back for Ronaldo. Unfortunately his left-foot shot went the wrong side of the post.

Ronaldo, Rafael and Carrick all had shots blocked inside the area, while Vidic sent a header crashing wide, infusing frustration – if plenty of action to warm a chilled Old Trafford crowd, with a feeling that Middlesbrough were there for the taking.

Rooney had United’s last – and possibly closest - opportunity before the half remarkably ended goalless. Ronaldo’s glancing header found his team-mate surging down the right channel, and Rooney’s first-time left-foot volley forced a fingertip save from Turnbull.

The second half started at a much slower pace, with chances far less forthcoming. The tempo of United’s game appeared to slow, too, which is why Sir Alex introduced Paul Scholes into midfield in place of Fletcher. Gary Neville also came on for Rafael, but not before Tuncay had sent a diving header agonisingly close to goal.

United immediately stepped it up a gear. Park went on a surging run from midfield and forced Turnbull into yet another save, before Scholesy miscued one of his speciality first-time volleys from the resulting corner.

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