|Queens Park Rangers|
The visitors’ red-hot start almost yielded further reward before three minutes were up. Nani pounced on a loose ball, exchanged passes with Rooney and fed Danny Welbeck, whose scuffed effort was blocked by Cerny.
Aside from a Heidar Helguson header that drifted just wide, QPR’s riposte was one of physicality. A strong challenge by Connolly on Rooney went unpunished – a decision that prompted Rio Ferdinand to earn a caution for dissent – before Danny Gabbidon joined him in the book for a lunge on Valencia.
Unruffled, United continued to forge openings. Rooney released Welbeck to finish neatly, though it was contentiously deemed offside, before the Reds enjoyed a spell of pressure around the half-hour that should have killed the contest.
First, after Welbeck had beaten Cerny to Nani’s corner, Evans nodded onto the top of the crossbar from inside the six-yard box. Phil Jones was then thwarted in a one-on-one encounter with Cerny, who then heroically flung up an arm to deny Valencia from close range. From the subsequent corner, Evans’ header was hoofed off the line by Alejandro Faurlin.
The danger of creating and spurning such a procession of chances was underlined by a rally from the hosts late in the half. Though Evans and Ferdinand coped admirably with the aerial onslaught, they and their colleagues could only watch with baited breath as Jay Bothroyd’s marvellous cross rolled across De Gea’s six-yard box without conversion.
The second period began in bizarre fashion, as referee Webb kicked-off proceedings before Danny Gabbidon has retaken the field. United looked to expose the numerical advantage, but Rooney could only fire straight at Cerny before Gabbidon was waved into the fray.