Man United maintained their lead at the top of the Premier League, after beating Stoke 2-1 at Old Trafford, thanks to goals from Nani and Javier Hernández. Despite it being a relatively trouble free game, United did have to regain the lead through Nani - after a headed equaliser from Dean Whitehead in the second half.Sir Alex made 6 changes to the side which faced West Brom, as Chris Smalling made his first premier league start in the place of the rested Rio Ferdinand, and Rafael replaced Gary Neville in defence. In the midfield, Fletcher kept his spot, alongside Darron Gibson - with Giggs and Nani (who returned from injury) on the wings. Up front, Chicharito took the place of the injured Wayne Rooney, who picked up a knock in the win against West Brom.
In a game in which they looked comfortable throughout, Man United made a good start, keeping the ball well, and creating chances - Ryan Giggs seemed to roll back the years once more, seemingly refreshed after a short rest. The first real chance of the game fell to the in form Dimitar Berbatov. After some excellent play from the Welshman, Giggs' shot took a deflection off Ryan Shawcross at the edge of the box, and the ball fell to the Bulgarian, who shot inches wide - however, he was then shown to have been offside by the replay.
United eventually took the lead near the 30 minute mark. Picking the ball up from Berbatov, Nani managed to cut past Danny Collins, before playing in a brilliant low cross from the right. The ball found Javier Hernandez, who once again showed great improvisation to flick the ball behind him and in to the back of the net past the helpless Begovic!
In the second half, Stoke started fairly well, in possibly their best spell of the game they seemed much more energetic and just 5 minutes in they were level. After managing to lose his marker Nemanja Vidic, Dean Whitehead equalised after scoring a well placed close range header from Sanli Tuncay's cross, stunning the Old Trafford crowd into silence.
United were not behind for too long though. Just over 10 minutes later, Javier Hernandez managed to turn a defender before finding Nani at the edge of the Stoke box. The Portugese made no mistake, taking a touch inside before slotting the ball in to the back of the net with an excellent left footed strike - once again rendering Asmir Begovic helpless!
For the remainder of the game United once again looked very comfortable. Whilst there's always a risk of dropping points with just a 1 goal lead, the result never seemed in doubt after Nani's goal, and in truth the scoreline flattered Stoke, who rarely threatened (if at all) outside of a 10 minute spell just after half time. Hernández looked lively throughout and took his goal well, whilst Rafael kept Matty Etherington quiet all night, whilst offering good support going forward too. Nani had returned to the side with a goal and an assist, and Berbatov played well despite not scoring.
Best Moment: Nani's wonderful goal
Worst Moment: Stoke's equaliser
Man of the Match: Ryan Giggs
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