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Middlesbrough v Manchester United Live!
Published : 02 May 2009 11:53:09
90+4 Alves fires in the shot but it's one to forget and more danger to fans sitting near the corner flag than the goal. 90+3 Late free-kick for Boro and Alves fancies a shot. 90+2 So nearly a late chance for Boro, but Evans pulls off a superb tackle to nick the ball off Alves' toes. He would have been one-on-one with Foster but for that. 90+1 Great hold-up play from Berbatov eases the pressure - if it can be called that - on United. He eventually wins a free-kick on halfway. 90 Boro pressing as the clock ticks down, but they're still lacking the requisite penetration. 89 Meandering towards the conclusion now. 88 Aliadiere down so O'Shea turns the ball out so he can get treatment. 87 Tuncay works himself a shooting opportunity after leaving Vidic wrongfooted but Evans blocks well. Great double-teaming from the United central defenders. 86 Rafael's cross is palmed away by Jones but Nani can't turn it back goalwards. The ball is lofted back into the box but again Nani can't get to it, with Downing defending well. 85 Rooney's attempted cross loops up off Bates' foot and behind for a United corner. 84 Rooney - in the absence of Ronaldo - takes the free-kick but his curling, dipping effort is always wide of goal. 83 Rooney comes powering forward and is sent crashing to the deck by Huth. Free-kick United probably 30-35 yards out. 83 A melee centrally ends with a free-kick to Boro with Scholes penalised for a - shall we say - robust challenge. 82 United cut Boro apart but probably just overplay it in the final third with Berbatov, Rooney and Tevez all turning down chances to shoot. O'Shea eventually has a pop but it bounces back off the defender and out for a goal-kick. 81 Tevez just down on his haunches centrally. Not looking comfortable but a nod to the bench suggests he may just be struggling with an 'impact injury' where he may not have wished to get one. 80 Alves looks to have worked himself a shooting opportunity with his left foot after powering past two United players but then loses his footing at the crucial moment. 79 Not the best of starts from the Brazilian as he's almost immediately pulled up for handball. Boro fans appeal for the booking, but there's nothing doing. 78 Rafael replaces Evra. 78 United spring forward in the blink of an eye and Rooney works himself a shooting opportunity, curling it wide. 78 Good ball in from Emnes from the left but again Boro are lacking numbers in the middle and Foster gathers unchallenged, albeit on the stretch. 77 Decent ball in from Tuncay into the United box but Vidic shepherds Emnes away from it allowing Foster to gather. 76 Tevez tries to wriggle this way and that to work a shooting opportunity after a lovely ball from Scholes but Wheater manages to untangle his legs in time to block. 75 Berbatov squanders possession in attempting a pass to Giggs. Tevez not impressed after making a lovely arcing run. 74 Nani on for Park. The Portuguese was subbed at half-time against Tottenham last week so he'll be hoping to make a positive impact in what's left of this game. 73 Not the most exciting game to watch at the moment. United just playing keep-ball to conserve energy while Boro lacking a real cutting edge in the final third and so not troubling Foster. 72 More decent passing from Boro until Tuncay's ball in is headed clear at the front post. They're doing fine until the final third but thereafter it's easy to see how they're struggling at the wrong end of the table. 71 The rare sight of a ball change as Halsey deems the one in play is deflated. Coming to something when that raises a cheer. 70 Boro bring Marvin Emnes on for O'Neil. Last throw of the dice. 69 Wheater climbs to meet Downing's left-wing delivery but his header is always sailing over. Not quite sure how Evra ended up marking Wheater there but it wasn't the best decision! 68 The United throw comes to nothing and Boro break, with Alves forcing a free-kick in United territory for a foul by O'Shea. Good crossing opportunity for Downing this. 67 Dreadful shanked clearance from Jones. Boro just struggling now - that second goal has clearly rocked them back. 66 United just spraying the ball around pretty much at will for the moment. 65 Giggs works the ball into Tevez in the Boro box and somehow he has two yards of space. He takes it down and shoots but it's well blocked. 64 Evra hobbles off gingerly but the injury isn't serious enough to end his involvement just yet. No point risking him, though, so if there is any doubt he'll be off pretty quickly. 63 Just seen a replay - just a kick on the ankle for Evra so that shouldn't be too much of a concern. Obviously a painful one but can't see there being any problem with a view to Tuesday. 62 Evra crocked. Not good news for United ahead of the return against Arsenal in the week. He signalled straight away for the physio even before he'd hit the deck. Ankle injury. 61 Downing curls a dangerous ball in from the right but there's just one player in the box - O'Neil - and he's 10 yards away from it. Boro fans roar in frustration with some justification as their United counterparts continue to go through their back catalogue with tributes to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Jaap Stam getting an airing. 60 Still decent passing from Boro and they are to be commended for that. Thus far, though, they're lacking a cutting edge. 59 Ball whipped into the United box from the right but it's too high for O'Neil at the back post and United get the goal-kick. 58 Berbatov and Tevez try to link inside the Boro box but the former's ball to the latter is well shepherded out. Bates and Tevez tangle and the referee has a little chat with the duo to calm tempers. 57 Giggs curls the free-kick in but it's headed clear inside the six-yard box. Good defending. 56 Huth in the book for bringing down Tevez on the right as United come forward. Dangerous free-kick this, around 10 yards from the byline and only just outside the box. 55 United bring Tevez on for Macheda. Goes without saying that he's given a huge reception from the away fans. 54 Boro bring Afonso Alves and Didier Digard on for King and McMahon. 53 O'Neil whips a ball in from the right but it's easy for Foster to gather. United fans - perhaps unsurprisingly - in full voice now. Still waiting for the Boro changes but they're imminent. 52 No surprise to see changes afoot for Boro. Their response to the first United goal was positive but how will they fare this time? 51 GOAL - PARK. Lovely angled ball from Rooney finds Park, who makes a great run to get away from Wheater. Great finish from the Korean as well. That could easily be game over. 50 United looking for the second goal that will surely kill this off. Giggs weaves his way into the Boro box but can't get a shot away or find a team-mate and Boro clear. 49 Rooney leaves McMahon in a heap inside the Boro box and cuts the ball back for Macheda. Jones is out of his goal but Huth is right on Macheda and the Italian can only shoot wide. 48 Nice link play from Macheda and Park presents O'Shea with a crossing opportunity but Wheater stands firm to head clear. 47 O'Shea knocks the ball into the Boro box for Macheda. He tries a little piece of skill to work an opportunity but Boro clear. 46 United looking to take the sting out of Boro by knocking the ball around. 45 Boro get us back under way at the Riverside with no changes to either side at the break. Middlesbrough now 16/1 for the win with Sky Bet, the draw 5/1 and United 2/13. A precise prediction from Thomas Hansen. He writes: "Rooney will come off to get some rest, Tevez on. Then in 63rd minute Giggsy off Nani on and in 78th min rafael on for Evra." Multi-skilling Nathan from Lowestoft, who is watching the game while looking after his son, writes: "United to get another in second half, Tevez to come off the bench and make it 2 nil." That's half-time and it's job done for United in the first 45. They've never been really troubled - though Foster did have to kick away a shot from Tuncay - and have a crucial goal. Boro have responded well to falling behind but without really extending United. 45+1 Jones comes racing from goal to kick the ball away from Berbatov. Not sure he needed to come, but having done so he did well. 45 Dreadful clearance from Jones gifts the ball to Berbatov. He cuts the ball in from the right to Scholes, but his shot is always flying wide. Just had to check his run before shooting. 44 Huth heads the corner back from beyond the far post but Giggs clears. United break with a trademark counter-attack but Scholes' shot is always drifting wide as he doesn't get enough cut on it. 44 Corner to Boro as Evra heads a long throw behind. Never a bad time to score, obviously, but this would give them a real lift for half-time. 43 Bates hoists the ball forward and in the scrum of bodies someone gets a touch, allowing Foster to gather unchallenged on the edge of his six-yard area. 42 Free-kick Boro as Vidic is penalised after leaning on King in aerial combat. Probably the right call from Halsey on reflection. 41 Great reception for Tevez from the United fans as he embarks on a spot of warming up. 40 More nice passing from Boro but United are holding firm at the back and McMahon shoots from distance and Rooney blocks. Boro building nicely but they'll have to do better than that. 39 O'Neil hoists the ball into the United box from the right but it's all too easy for Foster as he gathers unchallenged. 38 No second chance for Macheda as he produces a very similar challenge to the one on McMahon earlier, this time on Wheater although he was sliding more to block than challenge. 37 Another speculative shot from Downing from distance. Foster saves with little fuss. 36 O'Neil bursts forward and Aliadiere makes a decent run off him, but the ball is too late in coming and he's offside. 35 Good stuff from Macheda out wide. Surrounded by three Boro players and he kept possession well. 34 United fans taunting their Boro counterparts with 'Down with the Shearer, you're going down with the Shearer'. 33 I know I've said it before but I'm really impressed with the Boro response to going behind - they're knocking the ball around with confidence and probing patiently for an opening. 32 King down - but only momentarily. 31 Great response from Boro this. Silly from Wheater, though, as he shoots from all of 35 yards. Well over. Just caught a replay of the handball shout. It hit Vidic's arm but not deliberate in my opinion as Aliadiere got a flick just in front of him and Vidic didn't move his arm towards the ball. 30 Boro appeal for a penalty with Vidic blocking the ball but the referee waves play on. Macheda has a chance to break and maybe get a shot away but tries to hold it up and Boro clear. 29 Just seen a replay - Rooney tried to backheel it while McMahon lay over it. Could have been obstruction, but probably on balance a free-kick as Rooney caught the Boro man. 29 Great battle involving Rooney and McMahon down in the corner at the Boro end. Free-kick to Boro. Not sure why though - seemed to be six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. 28 Huth meets the corner but heads it up rather than on target and Foster is able to gather the ball at the second attempt. 28 Corner to Boro as Vidic slides it behind. Admirable response from Boro to falling behind here. 27 That's Giggs' second league goal of the season after his effort against West Ham - and United's first shot on target today. 26 Credit to Boro they're straight on the attack despite what must be a blow to their confidence but Hoyte's shot is blocked. 25 GOAL - GIGGS. The corner is cleared away but Rooney picks it up. He slides it out to Vidic who turns it inside. Macheda steps over it and Giggs takes one touch before driving it into the bottom corner. Boro appealing for a free-kick as Macheda stepped over, but it wasn't for me. 24 Giggs and Rooney link up superbly down the left with the latter returning the favour to the forer with a cut-back. He is just about to fire away the shot when Bates turns it behind from a corner. That's a brilliant tackle. 23 Park latches onto a ball over the top from Foster and manages to slide it in to Scholes but his shot is a poor one. Macheda given a ticking-off - but nothing more - for his challenge on McMahon. Typical 'forward trying to block defender but not quite getting there quick enough' tackle. 22 McMahon is caught by Macheda as he clears and United stop thinking the free-kick will be given. There's no qualms with Boro playing on though and Tuncay gets a shot in which Foster has to kick away. United caught napping there. 21 Boro appeal (rightly) for handball as Rooney takes the ball down. Play on, though, and the Boro defenders stand off the England frontman allowing him to power in a shoot. It's off target again but Boro need to be alert to the danger. 20 Giggs springs forward from midfield and gets to the edge of the Boro box but can't find Macheda or Berbatov centrally and Boro clear. But Scholes picks it up on halfway. 19 Park does well to nick the ball off Hoyte's toes and then goes down, but no free-kick is given. Scholes, terrier that he is, flies into the challenge but it's a fair one as he takes the ball. 18 O'Shea gets a half-clearance when the ball is crossed into the United box and Tuncay lashes in a left-foot shot. Fair to say it's one he'll be pretty keen to forget. 17 Macheda tries to be much too precise on the edge of the Boro box and it's no surprise to see the ball cleared. Tuncay then makes a great run at the other end to force a throw deep in United possession. He looks really up for this. 16 United just shading the possession thus far. Boro are right in it though. 15 Downing tries to clip an ambitious angled ball in for Aliadiere but Vidic reads it superbly and clears. Macheda picks it up and Wheater is penalised for a robust but - with the help of a replay - fair challenge. 14 Evra just hobbling a little at the moment - he tackled back well to win the ball back for United just before that Rooney shot. No sign of the physio though so it can't be too bad. 13 Rooney fires in a shot from distance almost out of nothing but it's always drifting over the bar. 12 Great clearing header from Vidic under pressure from Wheater. Boro try to return the ball into the United box and Tuncay attempts an overhead kick. He connects, the shot goes wide...but the offside flag is up in any case. 11 Great ball in from Bates towards Downing but O'Shea produces an excellent header to turn it behind for a corner. That would have been a great chance for Downing - he would surely have scored. 10 O'Neil floats the ball in but Vidic produces a trademark towering header to clear. Boro try to get the ball back in but Scholes somewhat inadvertantly heads it out for a throw. That's a sore one for the midfielder. 9 Free-kick Boro as Scholes is penalised for handball in midfield. Can't really have too many complaints about that at first glance. Boro sending their big men forward from the back. 8 Park springs the offside trap but it's a tricky ball for him to get down. He eventually works it out to Rooney, but Boro are in quickly and clear...only for a long ball to King to sail into Foster's arms. 7 Giggs dwells on the ball in midfield and has it nicked off his toes by Tuncay. It breaks to Downing all of 35 yards out but his shot is never close to troubling Foster as it drifts well wide. 6 Berbatov and Macheda try to link but the former's angled ball through to the latter is cleared with the Italian well marshalled. Boro break quickly and Foster does well to gather from the onrushing Tuncay, who looks Boro's biggest threat early on. 5 Evra lofts a great ball down the left for Rooney, who cuts inside McMahon with a lovely touch and fires in a curling shot. It's high and wide - much to Boro's relief. 4 Lovely ball from Tuncay out to O'Neil on the right but the attack comes to nothing with Berbatov of all people back in the corner to nick the ball back for United. 3 Decent stuff from Boro as they patiently build from the back. The ball is worked in to Aliadiere just outside the United box and he wriggles free before shooting weakly wide. Promising sign for the home side. 2 Great desire from Macheda to charge down an attempted clearance from McMahon. He conceded a throw but that's a great example for a forward to set to the rest of the team. 1 Downing goes down appealing for a foul by O'Shea but the verdict - rightly - is a United throw. The champions - in white shirts and blue shorts - look to break on the counter but Boro slow their progress with numbers back. 0 United get us under way. Cracking atmosphere at The Riverside with both sets of fans in full voice early on. Teams out on the field now. Not the biggest of surprises but Fergie said pre-match he had a juggling act between picking a side that was fresh but also one that would give them the best chance of winning - and also not open him to criticism from those scrapping away with Boro at the bottom. Just the one pre-kick-off email and it's from Andrew Johnson. He writes: "Not surprising to see Fergie change things around a bit as the exertion of fighting on multiple fronts takes its toll. Interesting to see Rooney start though, would've thought he would be rested with Arsenal in mind - perhaps Ferguson will leave Rooney on the bench for Tuesday and play Berbatov and Tevez? We'll see. For today though, United will be in for a torrid time I think but I'm going to go for 2-1; Macheda and Giggs to score, and a very, very though game." Fancy a bet on the game? Well the home side are 6/1 shots, the draw is 3/1 and United are 1/2 favourites. That man Macheda is 2/1 for a goal in the 90 minutes. That's seven changes to the United line-up, with only O'Shea, Vidic, Evra and Rooney retained from the midweek Champions League clash with Arsenal. Still not a shabby side, though, with 10 full internationals plus man-of-the-moment 'Kiko' Macheda. Our referee today is Mark Halsey. Man Utd: Foster, O'Shea, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Park, Scholes, Giggs, Rooney, Berbatov, Macheda. Subs: Kuszczak, Ronaldo, Anderson, Nani, Rafael Da Silva, Gibson, Tevez. The teams are in. Middlesbrough: Jones, McMahon, Wheater, Huth, Hoyte, O'Neil, Sanli, Bates, Downing, King, Aliadiere. Subs: Turnbull, Digard, Emnes, Alves, Arca, Adam Johnson, Grounds. Welcome to our coverage of what could be a key game in the outcome of both the Barclays Premier League title race and relegation fight with leaders Manchester United at Middlesbrough. The Red Devils are three points clear with a game in hand - so can go six ahead of Liverpool, with the men from Anfield not in action for tomorrow. For Boro, their worries are at the wrong end of the table. Get your emails in to firstname.lastname@example.org