Manchester United Vs Southampton 11 Things You Need To Know Ahead Of Old Trafford Clash
There was a glorious moment for the Yeovil Town faithful, with almost an hour played and their team on level terms with possibly the most famous club in the world.
The voice of the public-address announcer boomed out across Huish Park: “The substitution, sponsored by Eden Vale Turf South West, replacing number nine Radamel Falcao is number seven, Angel Di Maria.”
A Colombian striker, trousering somewhere north of £15million a year, had failed to break down the mighty Glovers and was making way for the most expensive recruit in British transfer history.
It was testament to the sterling job done by League One’s bottom club that Louis Van Gaal had needed to send his £59m Argentinian World Cup star out into the freezing Somerset air.
And it was not the sort of substitution they are used to down here. Certainly not when Leyton Orient came to town and romped to a 3-0 victory last week.
Just minutes earlier, Yeovil’s own big-money recruit – a £30,000 buy from Dorchester Town, who revels in the full name of Kieffer Roberto Francisco Moore – had squandered a wonderful chance to give the home side the lead.
MORE: 5 things we learned from Huish Park
Boss Gary Johnson had banned his players from taking selfies with United’s famed cast list – but there had been precious little evidence of the Yeovil players being starstruck.
United had been talking about arranging prestige midweek friendlies to make up for the lack of European football at Old Trafford this season.
But it took a moment of majesty from Ander Herrera and a cool 90th-minute finish from Di Maria to ensure that the Thetare of Dreams wasn’t hosting a replay with Yeovil next week.
Louis Van Gaal said that these David v Goliath cup ties were referred to as ‘death or gladioli’ in Holland.
And while the United boss slipped free of the Grim Reaper, he hardly ended up brandishing the bouquets like Dame Edna Everage in her pomp. United had survived a scare.
Yeovil vs Manchester United: Shots, FT
Yeovil were perhaps the most famous giant-killers in the English game during their non-league days, with help from the infamous slope at their old Huish ground.
But this was the biggest fixture to be staged at their current home. A day when a small west-country town, best known for manufacturing helicopters, stopped and dreamt of defeating members of the private-jet set.
Yet it mattered to United too. They haven’t lifted the FA Cup in 11 years – as Ryan Giggs informed Van Gaal pre-match.
And is it represents their only realistic chance of a trophy this season, Van Gaal sent out a strong starting line-up – albeit with six changes from the team which drew at Stoke on Thursday.
They knew they were in for a game as soon as the gargantuan Moore crashed into David De Gea in the opening seconds.
GettyClose: Moore spurned Yeovil”s best chance
Moore and Paddy McNair spent most of the match with bandaged heads after a sickening early clash – with Van Gaal using the break in play to stage a lengthy touchline tutorial.
Yet United carved out only two chances of note in the first half. Wayne Rooney curled one narrowly over from 20 yards and then youngster James Wilson shot straight at keeper Jed Steer.
Yeovil had plenty of the ball but lacked composure in the final third, never more so than when Moore latched on to a Foley centre, after a slip from Chris Smalling, only for the big man to produce a back-pass to De Gea, just as his Ronnie Radford moment beckoned.
On came Di Maria and on 64 minutes, United were ahead when a deflected pass from Darren Fletcher found Herrera with his back to goal and the Spaniard spun round to strike a fierce shot into the top corner.
GettyUnstoppable: Jed Steer can do nothing to keep out Herrera”s shot
Yeovil then enjoyed their best spell – United-supporting skipper Joe Edwards having a header hacked off the line and Moore’s long-ranger deflected narrowly wide.
But United added a cultured second goal late on, when a visionary pass from Rooney sent Di Maria scurrying through to send a deft finish past Steer.
There was still time for the sound of Sir Alex Ferguson’s helicopter to drown out Johnson’s post-match press conference.
Yet it was not a day they will forget in a hurry down here. And the boys from Eden Vale Turf got their money’s worth too.
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Yeovil: Barnsley (A), Bradford (H), Coventry (H)
Manchester United: Southampton (H), QPR (A), Leicester (H)
Yeovil: Steer 6, N Smith 6 , Nugent 6, Arthurworrey 6, Twumasi 6, Ralph 6 (Eaves 69, 5), Edwards 7, Foley 6 (Hayter 88), Dawson 6 (Berrett 88), Gillett 6, Moore 5.
Subs not used: Leitch-Smith, Krysiak, Inniss, Smith
Manchester United: De Gea 7, Smalling 6, McNair 6, Blackett 6, Rafael 5 (Mata 46, 7), Fletcher 6, Herrera 7, Rooney 8, Shaw 5 (Evans 46, 6), Wilson 6, Falcao 5 (Di Maria 60, 6)
Subs not used: Januzaj, Lindegaard, Anderson, Lingard
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