Thursday, November 17, 2005

Gary Neville returned in Manchester United victory

Manchester United's reserves beated West Bromwich Albion as Gary Neville was back on the field after a tough injury. The midfielder started the game and he was replaced by Danny Simpson in minute 62.

Kenny Cooper opened the scoring after 14 minutes, sliding to flick the ball in off the crossbar after a slick, incisive passing move that started in defence with Gerard Pique.

Giuseppe Rossi uncharacteristically spurned a golden chance to double the advantage 10 minutes later as he fired straight at Albion keeper Russell Hoult when clean through.

The little Italian made no mistake three minutes before half-time, however, as he expertly controlled Markus Neumayr's superb chipped through-ball before rifling across Hoult and inside the far post.

Meulensteen's side effectively put the game to bed in first-half stoppage time through the aptly-named Adrian Manchester. The luckless defender applied the finishing touch to Adam Eckersley's cross which just evaded Rossi at the near post.

Though clearly deflated going into the interval the Baggies started the second half with more purpose, and reduced the defecit with a fine strike from Stuart Nicholson after 55 minutes.

Racing on to a long ball, the forward skipped away from Eckersley and Jonny Evans before rifling a shot high past Tim Howard.

Substitute Darron Gibson almost added a stunning fourth goal, but his 25-yard volley from Neumayr's corner was scrambled away well by Hoult.

Having been heavily involved in the first two goals and smashed a superb second-half drive against the upright, Neumayr deservedly etched his own name on the score sheet after 74 minutes.

Lee Martin's crossfield ball led to confusion in the visitors' defence and the German pounced after Hoult had spilled the ball to hammer United back into a three-goal lead.

The win gives the second string their sixth straight league win and puts them five points clear of second-placed Middlesbrough with a game in hand.

United: Howard, Neville (Simpson, 62), Eckersley, J Evans, Pique, Fox (Gibson, 46), Neumayr, R Jones, Cooper (Campbell, 79), Rossi, Martin.