Manu vs. DerbyDecember 9, 2007
Evergreen winger Ryan Giggs clocked up a century of league goals for Manchester United as Sir Alex Ferguson’s men overcame an early struggle to record victory over bottom club Derby County.
Carlos Tevez netted a double to ease United home and could have had a hat-trick if Ronaldo had let him take the spot-kick himself after going down under the challenge of Tyrone Mears.
But the scoreline was incredibly harsh on Derby, who remain marooned at the bottom but at least had the satisfaction of scoring their first away goal of the campaign 14 minutes from time through Steve Howard
Derby ace Giles Barnes was especially impressive and had one of the two shots which tested Edwin van der Sar during the opening period.
James McEveley had the other and had either found the net, United might well have been in trouble such was the disjointed nature of their play.
With half-time approaching, United increased the pace notably. Predictably, it took an injection of brilliance from a previously quiet Ronaldo to break the Rams’ resistance in the 40th minute.
Picking up a loose ball on the left edge of the Derby area, Ronaldo darted into the box, then drove a powerful shot at goal which, on a sodden surface, keeper Bywater was unable to hold.
There have been many more memorable strikes among Giggs’ previous 99 and a number of more important ones. But few will have been greeted with such an audible sigh of relief.
Wayne Rooney should have doubled United’s lead on their next attack when he collected Giggs’ lofted pass and sent Bywater to the ground with some neat footwork.
For some reason though, Rooney took aim before he had taken Bywater completely out of the equation and in chipping his shot over the prone keeper, sent it bouncing onto a post.
Rooney’s miss did not prove costly at all given Tevez was blasting a minute before half-time home after Ronaldo’s delicate free-kick had caused mayhem in the Derby area.
The 2-0 interval scoreline was harsh on the visitors, who had been fully deserving of a stalemate until United’s late offensive.
They continued to impress after the re-start but such is the lopsided nature of their fight for survival, the scoreline only got worse. Giggs might have had another but drove Wes Brown’s far-post cross against the post.
Brown supplied the pass for Tevez that led to number three on the hour mark, the South American mercilessly punishing Dean Leacock’s failure to close him down by driving a shot into the bottom corner.
If nothing else, Jewell must take heart from the way his team still refused to buckle and Howard’s effort in the 76th minute was the very least they deserved as consolation. Ronaldo completed the scoring to make it 4-1 with his last-minute penalty.