An open game was to United’s favour and the Reds looked unstoppable in the first half when Javier Hernandez pounced on Nani’s parried free-kick to put United in front after just five minutes. Nani then turned goal-getter to make it 2-0 and Sir Alex's men were cruising. But a bizarre five minutes early in the second half knocked the Reds off rhythm that not even with Wayne Rooney emerging off the bench could rectify.
With all the attention and focus on Rooney in recent weeks, there was even more fuel for the press when the Reds striker was named on the bench. Sir Alex opted for the in-form Dimitar Berbatov and the livewire Javier Hernandez. And there’s no arguing that their attributes compliment each other.
The decision to start Chicharito paid dividends almost instantly when, after five minutes, he won a free-kick 30 yards out. Nani took it and his shot dipped and swerved so much that Scott Carson could only parry the effort. Hernandez has lightning fast reactions and he was first to pounce and found the net. His first league start at Old Trafford, and his first goal here, right in front of the Stretford End.
With two passing, attacking sides, the match was unsurprisingly open. And other than an occasional early tendency to concede possession, United looked good in attack. Berbatov was inches away from scoring the Reds’ second just before the 15-minute mark with a curling effort from 20 yards, while Hernandez – buoyed by his goal – looked effervescent up front.