ANDREW VORCE - Thursday, December 17, 2009
Brad Friedel showed why he's one of the best in the business while Marcus Hahnemann and Wolves had reversed fortunes at old Trafford.
Sunderland 0 - 2 Aston Villa
Brad Friedel was the key factor in Aston Villa staying in the Top Four during midweek action, supplying the saves at the back to allow the Villa strike force to do their jobs.
The American keeper produced save after save in the first half, completely stumping the Sunderland attack.
With the play back and forth, Emile Heskey turned into the Villa hero to give the visiting team all three points. After some crafty passing, James Milner released Heskey inside of the area who made no mistake from 12 yards out, sending it just inside Martin Fulop's right hand post in the 24th.
Milner turned to goal scorer to put the game out of reach for the home team, capitalizing on a Black Cat throw in deep into their own territory. Milner won the ball near the sideline, and made a surging run to the midfield and unleashing a 30 yard swerving rocket that beat Fulop to his left hand post in the 61st.
Luke Young and Milner were booked for the Villans, while George McCartney and Lorik Cana received yellows for Sunderland, with Cana receiving his marching orders for a second booking with 11 minutes left to play.
Manchester United 3 - 0 Wolverhampton
Marcus Hahnemann had a rough evening as a weakened Wolverhampton squad were taken to the cleaners at Old Trafford.
The first goal came after a United corner was punched away by Ronald Zubar as Nemanja Vidic went up for his header. United striker Wayne Rooney stepped up to blast past Hahnemann who had guessed the right way, but was beaten for pure pace after half an hour played.
Vidic was given another chance just before the break in the last corner kick of the half. The Serbian defender rose above the rest to send a bullet header straight at Hahnemann's feet, but the American was unable to deal with the power as it trickled off the post and in.
The final goal after 66 minutes played was icing on the cake for the champions, as Antonio Valencia capped off a fluid attack.
Scholes sent in a chipped 20-yard pass into the box for Dimitar Berbatov to have a chance, but instead the striker unselfishly turned the pass into the path of Valencia with a half scissor kick. Valencia made no mistake from 12 yards out, side footing his half volley past the stagnant Hahnemann.
Darron Gibson received the only United booking, while Segundo Castillo picked up the Wolves' lone yellow card.
Jonathan Spector was on the bench for West Ham who fell 3-1 at Bolton to remain stuck in the bottom three.