United’s win over Chelsea was the sort performance The Reds have been threatening for a while now, but had until last night, failed to deliver over a full 90 minutes.
Every single player on the pitch worked their socks off to give Sir Alex’s men a huge advantage to take back to Old Trafford next week.
Most of the plaudits went to the trio of Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Edwin Van Der Sar. Carrick in particular arguably had his best game in a Red shirt since the 7-1 against Roma in this stage of the competition four years ago.
While some may point to Ryan Giggs as another reason United prevailed or perhaps the return of Rio Ferdinand, the shining light in a team full of star performers was for me, Antonio Valencia. It wasn’t Valencia’s wing play which left me in awe-it was his 40 minute stint at right back which truly caught the imagination.
Valencia gave the sort of performance that Gary Neville would’ve been proud of and was not only immense going forward as one would expect from a winger playing in defence, but didn’t shirk his defensive duties, tackling and battling away with whoever came down Chelsea’s left side.
Much of the British press seemed to agree that Valencia didn’t look out of place in Rafael’s position.
The Mail: “Shifted to right back to cover for the injured Rafael and like Giggs at the weekend, looked happy in defence.
The Guardian: “Classy display.”
The Manchester Evening News: “Again got the starting nod over Nani and the Ecuadorian didn’t disappoint, and also deputised ably as stand-in right back.”
The Telegraph: “Gave United extra discipline on the right”
The Sun: “Adapted well to right-back when Rafael was injured.”
Considering he’s not long back from injury Valencia deserves a lot of credit for such a sterling performance. Tony V Redflagflyinghigh salutes you sir.
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Valencia is a fantastic acquisition. Not only in skill but also in attitude. He’s not fussy and just gets on with his job. A role model in the making.
I think when SAF retires, he should be retained as a scout, or at least an adviser on player acquisitions.
Valencia is a fantastic footballer, even i think he has a character on and off the pitch, a role model for youth
I think we have to thank old boy steve Bruce for this one. but yes an amazing player in attack and defence. When i heard he had made the bench against Arsenal a while back i cheered like we had scored and that was before kickoff. No big coincidence either, that rooney has found his shooting boots now that Antonio is back on the field. perfect timing for the run in. We must also applaud JS Park for his work at left back. Two amazingly versatile players to have in the squad.
wish him and nani could fit on either wing