Man United win Vodacom Challenge

28 July 2008

Manchester United lifted the 2008 Vodacom Challenge trophy at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday, comprehensively outplaying Kaizer Chiefs 4-0 in the final.

Devoid of most of their frontline players two years ago, United had fallen to the Amakhosi in a penalty shootout for the title. This time around, with a much stronger side, including some of the European champions’ superstars, they were far too much for Chiefs to handle, even though the South African club had drawn 1-1 with them earlier in the tournament.

Commenting after the game, Kaizer Chiefs’ coach Muhsin Ertugral said the Red Devils had let the ball do the work and his players could learn from that.

Speed and precision

“I hope not only my players realise that, but also the rest of South Africa. This thing of holding on to the ball for long has never brought South Africa any success. We need to use more speed and precision,” he said at the post-match press conference.

Faced with the precision, pace, and big match temperament of the Red Devils, Chiefs had little to offer to counter it excepting effort, which led to some over robust tackles going in.

Wayne Rooney, as he had been in the previous match between the two clubs, was hacked down on a number of occasions. In the previous encounter he lost his temper and forced Ferguson into substituting him before he was carded. This time around, he made Chiefs pay with his play.

First chance

Chiefs created the first chance of the contest when Siphelele Mthembu ghosted past goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak, but Nemanja Vidic was back to cover his keeper and clear off the line.

Rooney signaled his intent after four minutes when he was played in by Ryan Giggs, but his chip just passed over the crossbar.

After a quarter-of-an-hour the England striker created some space for himself, but Amakhosi goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was able to make the stop. Rooney, though, was making a nuisance of himself and Khune needed to clear from him shortly afterwards after the Unted star had beaten defender Jonathan Quartey.

Narrow miss

Chiefs’ supporters made some noise when Siphiwe Tshabalala narrowly missed with a free kick after Jose Torrealba was brought down just outside the area, but it was United who were in charge of the game. Five minutes before halftime, they hit the lead.

Winger Lee Martin found veteran Ryan Giggs with a cross and he made no mistake with his chance, blasting the ball high into the corner of the net.

Giggs then set up Michael Carrick with an accurate cross, but his shot was straight at Khune and the half ended with Manchester United enjoying a single goal lead.

Shortly after the break Giggs nearly struck a second goal, but Khune denied him. The rebound fell to Rooney, who hit the side-netting with his effort.

Rooney strikes

The Red Devils doubled their advantage 12 minutes into the second half when Rooney beat the offsides trap and then Khune in the Chiefs’ goal after Danny Simpson had sent a defence-splitting through-ball for him.

It didn’t take long for United to add a third and Rooney was once again involved. He headed down a cross from Simpson to Tom Cleverley at the near post and he knocked it in to firmly take Chiefs out of the game.

Substitute Frazier Campbell thought he had made it 4-0 eight minutes from time after he rounded goalkeeper Khune, but Amakhosi skipper Jimmy Tau knocked the ball off the line.

Rout

Campbell, though, was able to celebrate two minutes from the end when he knocked in a loose ball in the area to complete the rout.

A physical approach had worked for Chiefs in the first meeting between the teams in Cape Town but, having had a chance to assess their opponents, United were far too clinical for the Amakhosi this time.

Even during the game they made adjustments that worked; Chiefs used the offside trap effectively in the first half, but twice in the second stanza the Red Devils scored after springing the trap.

Some local fans might have thought that there is not much of a gap between PSL clubs and the English champions after the draw a week earlier between Chiefs and United at Newlands. In Pretoria, United showed the difference between one of the world’s leading teams and one of the better PSL sides.

The gap is big, about four goals big.

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