Man-of-the-Match Macheda's Magic Misplaces Merseysiders

raam shankerContributor IApril 5, 2009

After Liverpool's exploits on Saturday at Craven Cottage, it was always going to be a tough ask for United to get back on top. This was not easy with Chelsea snapping at their heels. To magnify their misery, United were without Ferdinand, Vidic, Scholes, Rooney, and Berbatov.

All these fears were put to rest when Ronaldo scored off a lovely free kick from within the box after James Milner's back pass to Friedel, sending the partisan crowd to raptures. This probably led to United relaxing a little bit and even being a bit slack at times.

The inevitable followed soon with Carew heading past Van Der Sar. Villa equalised. United miss a few chances here and there, but the scores remained level at the break. Much of the second half remained to Villa, who started to grow stronger with every passing minute.

All the attacking paid off with Agbonlahor's header, giving them a rare 2-1 lead at Old Trafford. The only other team to have led and won at Old Trafford this season are Liverpool. A statistic that would encourage the United faithful. Another statistic that also would matter is the last time Villa won at Old Trafford was in 1983.

Just after the hour mark, Nani was replaced by 17 year old Federico Macheda; a name unknown beyond the walls of Old Trafford. 20 minutes later, Ronaldo scores at the bottom corner off his wrong foot. 2-2. The noise at Old Trafford is fantastic. That goal seemed to have given United the much needed impetus to push for a winner.

All along there was talk of Liverpool's performance against FUlham and their fortuitous win. Two minutes from time, entered Danny Welbeck into the action. When five minutes of stoppage time was announced, the crowd erupted in joy, maybe they sensed a goal.

Danny Welbeck's shot was well stopped, and it looked poised for a draw till it happened.

In a cluster of Villa defenders, Macheda with his back to the goal demanded the ball, received it from Giggs, turned on his left leg and curled one past Brad Friedel; all within a few seconds! A magnificient goal on debut; one that put United back on top of the game and more importantly the league table.

As I am writing this, I am watching the post match interviews and Gary Neville says he is grateful to Macheda. That proves the magnitude of his goal.

This United provides a lot of answers to the fans who've been worried with the performance against Liverpool (1-4) and Fulham (2-1).

Q>Do United have it in them to push for the title after two defeats?

Q>Can United cope with the loss of five first teamers and keep their cool?
A>Just about yes, but nevertheless, yes they can. The secret lies in United's squad depth and Sir Alex's eye for spotting talent.

Q>What about Ronaldo's future at United?
A>Two goals from Ronaldo, one to give them the lead, another to put them on level terms provided the stage for Macheda to perform. United's dependence on Ronaldo in the absence of other big guns was very evident here. United need him, or someone of his caliber. Ribery perhaps? you never know.

Q>Will Carlos Tevez stay at United?
A>Tevez has reiterated his intentions to stay at United. But then there is United's strike force comprising of Rooney, Berbatov, Manucho, Welbeck and now Macheda. How Sir Alex will justify Tevez presence still remains to be seen, but one thing I've noticed about Tevez is even if he does not get the goals, he gives a good work rate.

He runs back for defence, he is there tackling, challenging, fighting for the ball and creating chances. He is pure value for money in terms of his tenacity, character and discipline (only two yellow cards out of 22 games).

Q>Will United complete the quintuple?
A>That is one question I will not answer, because, I have no access to a crystal ball, the competitions are very dynamic in nature and quite unpredictable. Let's wait and watch.