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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Report: United 4 Hull City 3

The Tigers roared and roared but the Reds triumphed 4-3 in a pulsating encounter at Old Trafford.Hull’s fairytale start to the season looked a distant memory when Nemanja Vidic sent United 4-1 up on 57 minutes, but goals from Bernard Mendy and Geovanni made for nervy final moments at the Theatre of Dreams.Hulls’s fans certainly thought they were in dreamland, as they sung “this is the best trip we’ve ever been on”. All good things must end, though, and when referee Mike Dean blew the final whistle it was United celebrating three precious Premier League points. At his pre-match press conference, Sir Alex said he was confident he could keep Berbatov, Rooney and Tevez all happy. Against Hull, it was Rooney and Berbatov who were charged with leading the line.Wes Brown was left out after picking up a minor knock on his ankle. Gary Neville occupied the right back berth in what was his 550th United appearance, while Cristiano Ronaldo played his 250th Reds match. Michael Carrick started his first match since mid-September after returning from injury, with Darren Fletcher relegated to the bench.Edwin van der Sar also returned in goal but he’d barely touched the ball before the Reds went in front. Surprise, surprise, it was that man Ronaldo, with his third of the week. Dimitar Berbatov drilled the ball towards the Portuguese winger, who took one touch with his back to goal before swiveling to hit a sweet half-volley in off the post.By the manager’s own admission, United took their foot off the gas against West Ham in midweek after going 2-0 up. Against Hull, however, the Reds continued to press. Berbatov produced a sublime piece of juggling skill in the middle of the park before releasing Nani down the left wing. His cross sat up invitingly at the back post but Kamil Zayatte bravely headed clear with Ronaldo poised to pounce.Rooney then fired inches over from the edge of the box on 17 minutes but Hull found the net next, summer signing Daniel Cousin flicking an Andy Dawson free-kick into the far corner on 23 minutes.Since their arrival in the top flight, Phil Brown’s side have earned a reputation for being well organised, and Hull’s equaliser certainly looked like a training-ground set-piece. United have now conceded twice in a week from headers, however, and that will worry Sir Alex.Six minutes later, United’s lead was restored, as City’s defenders backed off Michael Carrick. Released by Berbatov, Carrick advanced, picked his spot and fired across Hull goalkeeper Boaz Myhill and into the net. It was a tremendous strike and a fitting way to celebrate his return to the side.Rooney next had the ball in the net, but his effort was ruled out by the referee assistant’s offside flag. Never mind: Ronaldo made it 3-1 on 44 minutes, heading in Nani’s corner via a slight touch off former Reds defender Paul McShane.Neither manager made changes at the break and it was Sir Alex’s men who continued crafting chances early in the second half. Berbatov and Ronaldo both dragged shots wide before Nemanja Vidic made it 4-1, tapping in Rooney’s corner from close range.The scoring didn’t stop there, however. Hull substitute Bernard Mendy dinked the ball over van der Sar to pull another back for the visitors before referee Mike Dean awarded Hull a dubious penalty in the 82nd minute after Mendy and Ferdinand tangled inside the area.Ex-Manchester City forward Geovanni stepped up to fire the ball into the net and give Hull real hope of earning a dramatic, last-gasp draw. Rattled somewhat, the Reds hung on for the last 10 minutes to see out the match, clinch victory and finish the day in third place.Lineups:United: Van der Sar; Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Ronaldo, Carrick (Giggs 72), Anderson (O’Shea 88), Nani (Tevez 64); Rooney, BerbatovSubs: Foster, Rafael, Fletcher, ParkBooked: Rooney, TevezHull City: Myhill; McShane, Turner, Zayatte, Dawson; Marney, Boateng, Hughes (Mendy 59), Geovanni; Cousin, King (Halmosi 63)Subs: Duke, Barmby, Garcia, Folan, RickettsBooked: Turner, MendyAttendance: 75,398

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