Manchester United were held to their first draw this season against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium. With Swansea playing in fine form this season, United were never going to have an easy match and missed opportunities would haunt them in the end.
The match started well enough for the Red Devils with the attack led by Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young provided some width on either wing and United had their chances. In a season where United have found themselves behind first more often than not, the Red Devils managed to get their noses in front with a well taken goal by Patrice Evra. Scoring goals was once a rarity for the French defender but the goals keep coming in this season. Evra jumped highest to connect with van Persie's dangerous header and was able to flick the ball behind and into the bottom far corner of Michel Vorm's goal. 1-0 ahead and United looked in control. Their attack looked like it was gelling together nicely as quick passes constantly threatened to unlock the Swan's defense further. After about 20 minutes however, United seemed to take their foot off of the pedal and struggled to get the ball out of their own half. Swansea looked dangerous with Michu and Jonathan De Guzman providing plenty of threatening runs.
Swansea got their deserved equalizer in the 29th minute when David de Gea saved a shot from De Guzman only to have it fall right to Michu. The Spanish striker scored a tap in with Jonny Evans failing to put in a challenge and Michu increased his goal tally to 13 this season which is the most in the league. Swansea provided United with a few more nervy moments before the half but the Red Devils had their chances and could not convert. United left the Liberty pitch slightly frustrated at being level.
The second half opened for United and they had plenty of opportunities, each one squandered to the increasing annoyance of manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Rooney particularly was wasteful in possession and looked to constantly choose the wrong option which is very uncharacteristic of the forward. United would hit the post twice once from van Persie and once from Michael Carrick but besides those near misses, United could not trouble Vorm enough. Chicharito was introduced for the below-par Valencia but never got much opportunity to change the match. A flash point arose in the 75th minute when van Persie was brought down outside of the box and Ashley Williams appeared to kick the ball right at the Dutchman's head. It could have easily been red for Williams but the ref gave yellow to both players and Rooney's following free kick went harmlessly out for a corner. Ryan Giggs would eventually come on for Rooney and the Welshman made a difference getting into dangerous areas and providing nice crosses but Swansea's defense was equal to everything and successfully saw the match out for a decent draw.
United stay in first place at the top of the Premier League by four points after Manchester City grabbed a late win in their Saturday match against Reading. United will look at the game as an opportunity missed to get back to six points clear but Swansea played the Red Devils tough and deserved their draw.
Man of the Match: Jonathan De Guzman. The Swansea forward constantly caused problems for United's defense and was a major part of Swansea's equalizer. He had a tireless work rate and could have scored one himself when he was able to beautifully keep the ball from going out after Tom Cleverley tried to shepherd it out of play.
Swansea: Michel Vorm; Chico Flores, Ashley Williams, Dwight Tiendalli, Ben Davies; Leon Britton (Ki Sung-Yueng), Nathan Dyer, Wayne Routledge, Kemy Agustien (Etey Shechter); Michu, Jonathan De Guzman (Luke Moore)
Manchester United: David de Gea; Patrice Evra, Phil Jones, Jonny Evans, Nemanja Vidic; Antonio Valencia (Chicharito), Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley (Paul Scholes); Wayne Rooney (Ryan Giggs), Robin van Persie
Manchester United Next Match: Newcastle (Premier League) Home Wednesday December 26
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