Manchester United defeated relegation troubled Reading 4-3 after a first half that saw seven goals scored. Reading twice took the lead but United were able to successfully bounce back to claim a vital three points.
The 2012-13 Barclay's Premier League season has rarely seen an opening 45 minutes quite like the one that took place at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday. Reading opened the scoring much to the delight of the home fans after just eight minutes as Hal Robson-Kanu took an excellent volley that found its way into the top corner of Anders Lindegaard's net. United found themselves in the all too familiar position of being a goal behind. The Red Devils response was equally as familiar as the team rallied and scored a fantastic leveler through Anderson. The Brazilian midfielder collected a nice throughball from Ashley Young and blasted home from a difficult wide left position.
It looked like it would be all down hill for the home side from that moment on and sure enough, a silly challenge on Jonny Evans in the box from Tabb resulted in a penalty that Wayne Rooney easily finished to give the visitors a 2-1 lead. It looked increasingly likely that United would stroll to a memorable victory but the trend of poor defending would continue for both teams. Only three minutes later, Adam Le Fondre scored off of a corner with a nice header. Evans failed to mark the forward and Le Fondre easily put his header past Lindegaard and equalized for Reading. The Royals were not finished punishing United's shockingly bad set piece defending and Sean Morrison added Reading's third in the 23rd minute. Up 3-2, Reading felt that just maybe this could be their night as United were forced to dig deep and provide another comeback this time within the same game. United were able to fashion a nice comeback mainly due to Reading's poor defensive display as well. At the half-hour mark, Rooney scored his second goal of the night as he was able to convert a nice cross from Young into a goal. Only four minutes after that, Robin van Persie popped up with a cool finish after a nice ball was played through to him from Rooney. Reading's defense stopped playing as they expected the offside flag to go up but van Persie was correctly played onside and United found themselves 4-3 up. Rafael was replaced after 30 minutes by Chris Smalling for fear that his yellow card picked up earlier could potentially turn red and Anderson had to be replaced by Phil Jones due to injury. The madness of the first half was not quite done yet when van Persie should have had his second goal. The Dutch striker blasted the ball at goal only for Morrison to clear. Replays confirmed the ball did indeed cross the goal line and United should have been ahead 5-3. Halftime came with an astonishing seven goals scored in one half and no one would have bet that no more goals would come for either team in the second half.
The second 45 was a bore compared to the first and United saw out the game in relative comfort. United's defense was drastically better no doubt as a result of the hairdryer treatment from Sir Alex Ferguson in the dressing room. Neither side could score even though both did have their chances but a goal was never on the horizon and the match finished with all goals being scored in the first half. Reading, although stuck in a relegation fight at the moment, will have many positives to take from the match against United who were heavily favored to brush the Royals aside easily. United must find out how to stop conceding early goals and going behind first if they have a realistic chance of winning the league this season. With news that Nemanja Vidic will be back next week, United could perhaps be optimistic that their defensive frailties will be well behind them and soon.
Man of the Match: Wayne Rooney. In a match where defenses were non-existent, the attackers had the limelight and Rooney outshone them all being involved in almost all of United's goals. Scoring two himself and providing van Persie with a great ball that the Dutchman scored from, Rooney influenced United's attack in all of the ways that are expected from him. Perhaps not as influential in the second half but the damage was done in the first.
Reading: Adam Federici; Nicky Shorey, Adrian Mariappa, Sean Morrison, Shaun Cummings; Mikele Leigertwood, Jobi McAnuff (Gareth McCleary), Jay Tabb, Hal Robson-Kanu (Noel Hunt); Adam Le Fondre, Jason Roberts (Pavel Pogrebnyak)
Manchester United: Anders Lindegaard; Rafael (Chris Smalling), Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans; Anderson (Phil Jones), Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher; Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young, Robin van Persie (Danny Welbeck)
Manchester United Next Match: Cluj (Champions League) Home Wednesday December 5
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