Monday 16 February 2015

Match report: Preston North End 1-3 United

Manchester United survived a second-half scare at Deepdale to see off Preston and set up an FA Cup quarter-final tie with holders Arsenal.

The Reds had dominated the game but it was not until we had fallen behind through Scott Laird early in the second half that we made the pressure tell, and in the end, Louis van Gaal's side emerged comfortable winners. 

A flat, disappointing first half failed to produce a shot on target for either side with Angel Di Maria's dipping free-kick and Joe Garner's close-range header for Preston the best of the sporadic openings.

Having dominated possession, the lack of a final pass was all that was holding United back but, two minutes into the second half, Deepdale erupted as Preston took a shock lead.

Laird was played in by Garner who raced into the box and powered in a shot that deflected off Antonio Valencia to beat the unfortunate David de Gea at his near post.

The home side briefly had United on the ropes and Tom Clarke nearly made it
2-0 when he narrowly failed to connect with a whipped free-kick.

After an hour, Van Gaal had seen enough.
He hauled off the ineffective Falcao for Ashley Young in an astute change that helped turn the game in his side's favour.

It was the pacy substitute who set up the Reds' leveller when he cut the ball back for the again impressive Ander Herrera, who slotted in a neat finish 25 minutes from time.

There were initial suspicions that Wayne Rooney had been offside when Herrera scored, but replays showed that Rooney did not touch the ball and was not obstructing the keeper's line of vision.

Marouane Fellaini, pushed further forward as part of the switch, then followed up his own saved header to poke United ahead and change the complexion of the tie.

North End were not going down without a fight, though, and Kyel Reid fizzed a low effort narrowly wide before Callum Robinson forced De Gea into a save with a well-struck drive.

But United made sure of their progress with two minutes to go when North End keeper Thorsten Stuckmann sent Rooney tumbling and he stepped up to despatch his penalty high into the net.

United Faithful Man of the Match: Ander Herrera
Overall team performance: 7.5/10

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