Manchester United crashed out of the F.A Cup in a much hyped game as they went 2-1 down to Liverpool.
Liverpool went ahead when Daniel Agger took advantage of uncertainty from a shaky David De Gea to head into the back of United’s net. However United came back at Liverpool taking control of the possession and game before Ji-Sung Park blasted a cross from Rafael past Pepe Reina into the bottom of Liverpool’s goal to take the sides in at half-time level pegging. With the match heading for a replay, Liverpool exposed United’s back line as Kuyt went through clear on goal to finish past De Gea who had a miserable day.
Despite the defeat, United had large periods of domination throughout as they ended the game with 57% possession of the ball. It was unfortunate for United that they did not manage to turn their possession into goals.
Rafael Da Silva impressed at right-back, the young Brazilian did well in his defensive duties against Maxi and Downing and also did his bit in getting forward and assisted Park’s goal. There was also yet another good performance from winger Valencia who continued his good form as United’s most influential player in attack.
However, our Man of the Match was Paul Scholes. Fresh out of retirement, the master ran the midfield for United.
Towards the end of his career when he made fewer appearances and after his retirement it seemed like something was missing from United’s team, there was an obvious hole in the midfield. The team had lost a lot of creativity and had seemed to lack a player who could consistently move the ball around the team well.
Scholes’ mixture of short and long passing links the team together and keeps the play flowing. In the first half alone Scholes made an astounding 75 passes with a 97% completion rate. He proved to be the central component in the United machine as most of their play went through him. After receiving the ball Scholes was able to move it on and kept himself available to take the ball back again to find a different passage of play.
It may not be a coincidence that Liverpool’s winning goal came after Scholes had come off the field. With Scholes on the field there was a constant option to play the ball to whether moving forward or backwards and he was a key factor in United keeping so much of the ball. However with Scholes off the field United did not hold on to the ball quite as well and were punished as Liverpool pushed them back and found the winning goal.
Despite exiting the F.A Cup United can take at least one positive from the match as Paul Scholes appeared to roll the years back looking fresher than he has in a long time as gave a master-class in passing and keeping the ball.