Premier League Results: Score, Match Analysis and Highlights from the Fixture between Manchester United vs Reading on Saturday, March 16, 2013. Includes Video Highlights for U.S. viewers (as available).
Result: Manchester United 1 – 0 Reading
Location: Old Trafford
|Manchester United – 1||Reading – 0|
|Wayne Rooney 21’|
Manchester United put out a strong attacking side with Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney, and Ashley Young all starting. Reading did not completely sit back to start the match despite setting up in a 4-5-1. Instead they relied on absorbing United’s probing and sending in long balls on the counter attack.
United pushed forward and in the 21st minute Rio Ferdinand went forward with the ball leading the attack. His pass to Wayne Rooney gave him just enough space to get a volleyed shot that looped up off the pitch and Reading defender’s foot to sail over the diving Stuart Taylor in goal.
From here United took control of the match and dominated their possession while stretching the play, at least for a time. This did not keep Reading from going forward and Hal Robson-Kanu’s shot in the 32nd minute kept the United defense on their toes.
The second half ended with United having only a 1-0 lead and not looking as up for it as I thought they would be. There was still a sense of complacency from the United team who seemed to think they simply needed to show up and shoot and they would be given goals. The first half stats showed Reading with 2 shots (none on goal) and United with 8 shots, 3 on target and 1 goal with nearly 55% possession. The problem was that 6 of their 8 shots were from outside of the box, including the goal, which did take quite a bit of luck with the deflection. Far from convincing and rather lackluster from the EPL Champion hopefuls.
Reading did have a shout for a penalty at the start of the second half, but the push by Vidic in the box was turned down by the referee. You have to give Reading plenty of credit. They did not sit back and give United time to come onto them. Instead they took control of the match for large portions of the second half. The longer it stayed at 1 – 0 the more Reading felt they could get something out of the match. Defensively both teams did a good job of closing down, particularly in the final third which certainly limited any good chances for goals.
In the end Manchester United scraped by with a win. These are certainly the sort of matches that a title winning side needs to get, but to be honest, United did look tired and unimaginative. Robin van Persie continued to struggle and his touch often let him down. It was a disappointing win for United and an even more disappointing loss for Reading. Reading had enough possession, but only managed a total of 5 shots with none on goal.
With the loss Reading stay at the bottom of the table. United’s win means they need only 13 points to clinch their 20th Premier League title with 9 matches remaining.
Rooney opening goal: