Manchester United eased their way into the fourth round of the Carling Cup with a 3-0 victory over Leeds United at Elland Road. With Sunday’s Premier League clash with Chelsea done and dusted Sir Alex Ferguson rested the majority of his team.
A slightly bizarre starting line up saw United field only two natural defenders in Fabio Da Silva and Ezekiel Fryers but four strikers with all Berbatov, Macheda, Diouf and Owen starting.
It was an impressive debut for Ezekiel Fryers who looked solid at the back, rarely putting a foot wrong all game. Giggs was again, just as against Benfica, very impressive and possibly the most influential player until he was subbed off at half time. Giggs could have been our Man of the Match again.
It was Michael Owen though who really impressed in a game which may not have much significance due to the tournament but has great magnitude in relation to the opposition. Owen opened the scoring 15 minutes into the game when he took Park’s pass in his stride before fooling the last defender with some clever footwork before rolling the ball through the defenders legs and into the back of the Leeds net. It appeared Owen may have mis-hit his shot but he worked for his chance by throwing the defence off and mis-hit or not as a natural finisher he got the intended result.
18 minutes later Owen got his and United’s second with a more impressive goal. He collected the ball on the edge of the Leeds penalty area and there was no doubt over whether he hit his shot properly this time as he thundered his strike past Andy Lonergan in between the Leeds sticks.
Owen nearly completed his hattrick when he pulled the ball back to bring it to a stop before attempting to lob Lonergan and was unfortunate to see it loop just wide of the net.
The striker was also unselfish when through on goal with another opportunity to grab his hattrick, passing to Antonio Valencia who should have scored.
With constant questions over Owen’s fitness often surrounding debates over whether he should be given a new contract or whether he deserves more playing time it was remarkable to see him stay on the pitch for the full 90 minutes.
Owen proved against Leeds he can last out a full 90 minutes and also made an impact throughout that time. He showed he still has his gifted finishing touch by grabbing a brace. His performance against Leeds suggests Michael Owen may be capable of putting up a fight to move up the striking pecking order at United.