15/11/2008 17:55, Report by Ben Hibbs
United 5 Stoke 0
Their supporters are enjoying their time in the top flight as much as the team, so it’s difficult to begrudge them –annoying though United fans may have found them – particularly as they’re one of the more vocal away followings to have visited M16 recently.
United’s first half performance had been steady, if not always penetrative. But just as it looked like the Reds would not add to the scoreline before the break, Carrick spliced open the Stoke defence again, this time with a powerful left-footed drive that found a route through a crowd of yellow shirts into the top corner.
The Reds began the second half with renewed intent. Tevez’s lofted pass played Berbatov in almost immediately after the restart. But the Bulgarian was eventually crowded out. Minutes later the same combination led to United’s third goal as Berbatov controlled Tevez’s cross before turning and drilling low past Sorensen.
The United fans in the old scoreboard end should be credited with one of the chants of the season: “You’ve only come to see your throw-ins”, such was the excitement in the away end whenever the ball went out of play. The constant banter between United and Stoke's fans added to the game as a spectacle. It spurred United on. Ronaldo left Sorensen befuddled with another thundering free kick, while Tevez hungrily chased a goal.
Such was United’s comfort, Sir Alex brought on Danny Welbeck, Darron Gibson and Manucho in place of Park, the outstanding Darren Fletcher and the equally impressive Carlos Tevez. Welbeck’s cameo brought another fine flourish in a game of goals to savour. Picking up the ball 35 yards from goal, the 17-year-old pressed forward before unleashing a screamer of a shot into the top corner – talk about making your mark, it was the pick of the bunch.
Stoke will have learned many lessons on the biggest Premier League stage. One their fans may like to