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Manchester United 2-1 Stoke City: Fellaini &
Mata hand Van Gaal fourth straight victory
The Red Devils made life difficult for
themselves, though, with Mame Biram Diouf
twice seeing efforts miraculously saved off the
line dep into injury time
Dec 2, 2014 21:36:00
Manchester United beat Stoke City 2-1 at Old
Trafford to secure their fourth consecutive
Premier League victory.
But they were made to sweat for it as Mame
Biram Diouf, a former Red Devil, saw two
efforts cleared away on the line in stoppage
time.
Juan Mata's second-half free-kick evaded
everybody and flew into the corner to help the
hosts earn the spoils after Steven N'Zonzi had
cancelled out Marouane Fellaini's header at Old
Trafford.
United headed into the game brimming with
confidence having risen to fourth in the table,
despite a sluggish start to life under Louis van
Gaal.
And some fine early play was rewarded when
Fellaini headed home a 21st-minute opener
from Ander Herrera's cross.
Stoke responded well and found a way back
into the game thanks to a stunning strike from
Steven N'Zonzi six minutes before half-time.
However, United regrouped upon the restart
and grabbed a deserved victory thanks to
Mata's intervention - albeit after surviving some
scares as Diouf twice almost thwarted his
former club.
The hosts seemed determined to establish a
passing rhythm in the early exchanges,
knocking the ball around with confidence,
though a staunch Stoke backline was giving
nothing away.
A golden opportunity went begging in the 16th
minute as Herrera, selected as one of two
injury-enforced changes due to problems
sustained by Angel Di Maria and Wayne Rooney
versus Hull City on Saturday, fluffed his lines.
Robin van Persie was the architect, intercepting
Asmir Begovic's ill-judged pass and squaring to
the Spaniard - who somehow side-footed over.
Yet Herrera helped atone for his error as
United took the lead, sending a superb cross to
the back post for Fellaini to power a header
past Begovic.
United's combination of crisp passing and high-
intensity pressing continued to cause problems
for the visitors, but they found an equaliser
against the run of play.
Fellaini coughed up possession in midfield
before complaining of neck pains as Bojan Krkic
surged clear and N'Zonzi rocketed home from
the edge of the area after the Spaniard's
progress was halted.
Mark Hughes' men were again proving a tough
nut to crack after the interval, but a deserved
United second came when Mata's delivery
missed the head of Marcos Rojo, who claimed
the goal, on its way to the net.
Bojan curled a free-kick wide of David de Gea's
post before James Wilson - handed a first start
of the campaign - curled wide having powered
into the box in between two Stoke defenders.
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Played December 2, 2014 7:45 PM GMT
MAN UTD. 2 - 1 STOKE
CITY
Old Trafford — Manchester | Attendance:
75388
Referee: J. Moss
Match Stats — Te