FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Barclays Premier League champion Manchester United exploded for four second-half goals en route to a 4-1 win over the New England Revolution in the opening game of the 2011 Herbalife World Football Challenge on Wednesday night at Gillette Stadium.
A total of 51,523 fans flocked to Foxborough for the midweek contest, establishing a new record for a club friendly match at Gillette Stadium.
Following a scoreless first half, the Revs and Red Devils combined for four goals in a hectic 10-minute stretch early in the second half. Halftime substitutes Michael Owen (51) and Federico Macheda (54, 61) struck for Manchester United, while Kenny Mansally (56) registered the Revolution’s lone tally. United midfielder Ji-Sung Park rounded out the scoring with a sublime goal in the 80th minute.
Playing their first match in nine days, the Revs began the game with a full-strength starting lineup featuring captain Shalrie Joseph, U.S. National Team midfielder Benny Feilhaber and veteran goalkeeper Matt Reis. In the first match of its preseason schedule, United handed starts to Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov, Nemanja Vidic, Ashley Young and Nani.
After soaking up a bit of early pressure, the Revs created the game’s first real chance in the 12th minute. Chris Tierney’s deflected left-wing cross found Joseph, whose glancing header from eight yards flashed just wide of the right post.
A bit of brilliance from Nani unlocked the Revolution backline in the 18th minute when the Portuguese winger danced free in the right channel and delivered a teasing cross into the box, but Rooney’s subsequent header looped over the crossbar.
Manchester United continued to threaten throughout the first half and Berbatov forced Reis into a remarkable save to keep the game scoreless in the 41st minute. Rooney’s clever pass sprung Fabio into the left side of the box, where the Brazilian slid the ball across the face of goal to Berbatov. The Bulgarian striker connected from point-blank range, but Reis sprawled to his left to deny the effort.
Both teams made multiple substitutions to begin the second half, with the Revolution introducing six new players and United making three changes to spark the game to life.
One of those substitutes made an immediate impact as Owen put United ahead in the 51st minute. Michael Carrick delivered the killer pass to spring Owen into the left side of the box and the 31-year-old striker finished coolly past new goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth inside the far post.
Carrick was the provider once again three minutes later when another substitute, Macheda, doubled the Red Devils’ lead. After beating the offside trap, Carrick played a simple pass into the path of Macheda, who side-footed his shot inside the left post from 12 yards out.
It took the Revolution just two minutes to cut the deficit to 2-1 as the home side scored in bizarre fashion. Feilhaber’s low free kick from the top of the box was drilled straight at teammate Mansally, who inadvertently deflected the ball into the vacant net past helpless goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard.
The goals continued to flow as Manchester United responded to restore its two-goal lead in the 61st minute. After receiving a short corner, Rafael delivered the ball to Macheda at the back post, where the Italian forward settled the ball with his first touch before ripping a low drive into the far side netting.
Shuttleworth did well to deny Macheda’s bid for a hat trick in the 70th minute, diving full stretch to his left to push away a long drive, while Mansally threatened for his second in the 73rd minute, forcing Lindegaard into a quality save with a blistering shot from the left side of the box.
Manchester United rounded out the scoring in the 80th minute with a classy piece of interplay between goal scorer Park and legendary winger Ryan Giggs. Receiving a pass from Gabriel Obertan, Park used one touch to direct the ball to Giggs, who similarly used a single touch to flick the ball back to Park as he surged past his marker. Park finished the move with a delicate chip into the roof of the net.
The Revs return to league action this weekend when they’ll host Eastern Conference co-leader Philadelphia Union on Sunday, July 17. Kickoff from Gillette Stadium is set for 7 p.m.
2011 Herbalife World Football Challenge
New England Revolution vs. Manchester United
July 13, 2011 – Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
Manchester United 4, New England Revolution 1
MUFC – Michael Owen (Michael Carrick) 51
MUFC – Federico Macheda (Michael Carrick) 54
NE – Kenny Mansally (Benny Feilhaber) 56
MUFC – Federico Macheda (Rafael) 61
MUFC – Ji-Sung Park (Ryan Giggs) 80
New England Revolution: Matt Reis (Bobby Shuttleworth 46), Chris Tierney (Darrius Barnes 46), A.J. Soares (Otto Loewy 46), Franco Coria (Ryan Cochrane 46), Kevin Alston (Kenny Mansally 46), Zak Boggs, Benny Feilhaber (Ousmane Dabo 65), Shalrie Joseph, Pat Phelan (Stephen McCarthy 46), Sainey Nyassi (Ryan Guy 65), Rajko Lekic (Zack Schilawski 64)
Substitutes Not Used: Tim Murray, Alan Koger, Diego Fagundez, Andrew Sousa, Ryan Kinne
STATS*: Shots: 12; Shots on Goal: 6; Saves: 4; Corner Kicks: 0; Offside: 1; Fouls Committed: 4
Manchester United: Anders Lindegaard, Fabio, Jonathan Evans, Nemanja Vidic (Rio Ferdinand 46), Rafael, Ashley Young (Gabriel Obertan 67), Anderson (Mame Diouf 75), Michael Carrick (Ji-Sung Park 75) Nani (Ryan Giggs 67), Dimitar Berbatov (Federico Macheda 46), Wayne Rooney (Michael Owen 46)
Substitutes Not Used: Sam Johnstone
STATS*: Shots: 19; Shots on Goal: 8; Saves: 5; Corner Kicks: 7; Offside: 1; Fouls Committed: 10
* Note that all statistics are unofficial
Referee: Mark Geiger
Assistant Referees: Claudio Badea, Steven Taylor
Fourth Official: Niko Bratis
Weather: Cloudy and 69 degrees