Carling Cup Final: Penalty Kings United on Top Again

Saif Syed OmarCorrespondent IMarch 1, 2009

The football season is underway and in full swing now and the first of the many to come finals happens to be the Carling Cup a.k.a The League cup. The teams up against each other are the current holders Tottenham Hotspurs and the reigning Champions of England and Europe, Manchester United, who won this trophy last in 2004 when they ran out 4-0 winners against Wigan.

A rejuvenated Spurs side, with their new manager at helm has seen off relegation, well almost and have managed to make it to the finals albeit through a pile-up of fixtures.

Harry Redknapp seemingly has traded the UEFA cup glory to the more realistic chance of winning silverware in this competition and truly so.

So the finals got underway at the Wembley with fans from all over England pouring in to see the finals of this so called 'less-prestigious' competition. This the 49th season of the League cup and 92 have been a part of this competition.

Let's analyze the game dividing it into quarters just for fun.

Quarter 1: The Kick off

Both teams started off well with chances at either end. Manchester United held a lion's share of the possession, but not too many chances for their forwards.

Gibson was the Man of the quarter, breaking Tottenham attacks and providing a solid anchor to the defense. He went closest to scoring with a 25 yard rocket which just fizzed above the bar.

Advantage United.

Quarter 2: Still a cagey affair

The attackers of both the teams continued to be spectators as a toothless attack on both the sides continued into the half. Both goal keepers were barely tested.

However, Spurs did claw their way back into the match though largely through winning back some possession. Modric, Jenas and Zokora finished the half better than they started. Aaron Lennon was the best player for Spurs.

Advantage Spurs.

Quarter 3: Spurs Roll on

Spurs started the half where they left off. They made the United Midfield and Defense work. But the United Defense managed to come out on top as the Spurs dominate in Midfield.

Finally Ben Foster's prayers were answered. He got into the game with a couple of decent saves. He was particularly good at handling corners and set-pieces well, with a clarity as to when to go for the Ball and when to punch it, unlike Tomasz Kusczack.

Substitutes were on for both teams, Anderson on for the below average Danny Welbeck who was Missing in Action throughout his stay. Harry Redknapp countered by sending Jamie O hara for the hapless Pavlyuchenko - easily Spurs' worst player.

He did have competition though, for the Worst player of the game - who else but Nani was up for it. He is consistent, isn't he.

He tried the old tricks in the box, cutting from the left and shooting. When nothing worked, he started gifting the ball back to the opposition - some courage the lad has.

Advantage Spurs, again...

Moment of the quarter -

Ronaldo booked for diving. Replays showed there was contact from Ledley King, but perhaps it was his reputation that earned him the card. His efforts against Blackburn have reaped rewards again, albeit unfairly this time.


Quarter 4: Stalemate continues...

Both teams did get decent efforts but none of them were able to finish it off in the final third - Ben Foster being the busier of the two keepers. Gomes would have loved to get into action, but United's attackers refused to be generous.

Aaron Lennon continued to have a good game, crossing, shooting and giving Evra a torrid time, doesnt happen too often.

Few more substitutions as legs began to tire. Vidic came on for the injured O'shea.
If you thought Giggsy and Scholes playing together was not a good sign, Harry just decided to hog the limelight by bringing Bale on.

Just when things seem to be going Tottenham's way, Harry Redknapp decided to turn the game on its head by bringing on Gareth Bale. The poor lad, though is a decent footballer, always carries a Jinx, with Spurs losing most matches he plays in.

Moment of the Quarter
-  United finished strongly, as they almost scored late through a Ronaldo effort. Probably a goal would have vindicated the poor guy, but it was not to be.

It's a Tie, though United win the Injury time.


Extra time

Legs and steam on both sides was running out with the players visibly exhausted by the game. Spurs went close and so did United, but nothing would go in.

Both Foster and Gomes were busy but the shots on goal lacked sting or accuracy. Both teams were probably prepared to decide the outcome through Shoot Outs.


Penalty Kings

If the Community Shield and Champions League wins are anything to go by, then one would have guessed the result right away. Manchester United won comfortably with Giggs, Tevez, Ronaldo and Anderson converting. O'hara and Bentley missed for Spurs.

Overall, a good day for Foster, who might very well be United's No.1. United's defense came out on top today, which has been the trend so far this season.

The midfield started brightly, but diminished as the game progressed. The attack never seemed to exist. Nani though was omnipresent trying to make a clown of himself. To be fair, he did achieve to a large extent what he set out for.

United lacked the form they showed at the San Siro, but made a thumping statement by showing the quality of Champions - to Win even when not at their best.

United's kids, though were a Revelation in the tournament this far, failed to show up on the big day, perhaps it is the nerves of the big game that got to them. That is what seperates the Boys from the Men. But have no illusions, these young guns are stars of the future, if they continue with the same verve and enthusiasm.

For United, their love saga with Silverware continues, One down Three to Go... The Quintuple is On...


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