As hangover cures go, this match wasn’t the best remedy, but a 1-0 win over Birmingham City and three more valuable points toward the defence of United’s title was exactly what Sir Alex Ferguson had prescribed.
Carlos Tevez got the game’s only goal – producing a dummy in his celebration – but ended up being carried off with an injury after Louis Saha replaced him late on, although he didn't look in too much pain.
After the disappointment of defeat to West Ham three days previously, this was a game United could not afford to lose, but although the Reds got off to a good start, the lack of a second goal made it a nervous finish.
Sir Alex once again sat in the stands, completing his two-game touchline ban, and watched as his side made a far more positive start than the sluggish opening at Upton Park.
United were again without Wayne Rooney, who is still suffering from a virus, leaving Carlos Tevez paired with Cristiano Ronaldo in attack. And it was the Portuguese attacker, in such excellence goalscoring form this season, who registered United’s opening shot on goal after just three minutes. Cutting into the box from the left flank he fizzed in a low shot which Maik Taylor saved low at his feet.
The Reds continued the bright opening when Tevez went even closer after six minutes. Following neat work between Anderson and Patrice Evra down the left, the Frenchman, under pressure from Blues defender Stephen Kelly, crossed for Tevez, whose glancing header beat Taylor but rebounded off the post.
Ronaldo is such an omnipresent threat that it makes little difference where his starting position is. Although not the sort to relish having his back to goal, when facing Birmingham’s defence the visitors looked petrified. He went close with a volley from the edge of the area after excellent chest control, but his shot dipped over the bar.