Man Utd 5-0 Stoke City

Cristiano Ronaldo's 100th and 101st goals for Manchester United helped the home side to a 5-0 thumping of Stoke City at Old Trafford.

It was a double cause for celebration as Saturday marked 50 years in the game for Sir Alex Ferguson.

Ronaldo took just three minutes to reach his personal milestone with a trademark free-kick and rounded off United's biggest win of the season in similar fashion at the end.

In between Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov found the net, with England Under-19 forward Danny Welbeck scoring on his debut as Ferguson did at Stranraer half a century ago.

In recalling that first appearance for Queens Park, Ferguson told a story of being bitten by an opponent, only to be advised to "bite him back" by his own manager when he complained at the break.

While it was not quite that bad, Stoke's robust approach might have forced the United boss to revise his opinion that Tony Pulis' side are not as bad as they are being painted, by Arsene Wenger at least.

Ronaldo was certainly pretty fed up. Time after time he hit the floor as hed to make ground in the visitors' half.

Not only were there no cards, on a number of occasions there was no free-kick either, which only increased his frustration.

Referee Peter Walton had to offer a piece of stern advice at one point, although it presumably did not include giving chief assailant Danny Higginbotham a sarcastic burst of applause as Ronaldo did when the former Manchester United trainee went down in the box for no reward shortly afterwards.

When he assesses Ronaldo's immense talent, Ferguson likes to use the word courage. It often seems excessive but on this occasion it was quite apt as the Portugal superstar refused to hide.

He had given himself something to smile about after just three minutes when Amdy Faye clattered into Caros Tevez to provide him with a free-kick to line-up.

Thomas Sorensen's fumbling effort to save meant the goal was not quite in the class of his strike against Portsmouth last season. But still, for a landmark 100, it was not too bad.

If Ferguson was waiting for a second, he needed to be patient.

Ronaldo, the impressive Park Ji-Sung and Carlos Tevez all had chances to get it. But it was not until Carrick collected Ronaldo's pass in stoppage time and somehow thundered a shot through a crowd of Stoke bodies that United finally managed to double their lead.

It was a decent return from a first half lacking not just Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs, who were all injured, but also a monster throw-in from Rory Delap.

Ferguson laughed it off when it was mentioned yesterday but a steep slope around the pitch about two feet from the touchline meant Delap could not get enough momentum to cause the type of damage he wanted.

And any hope Stoke might have had disappeared straight after the restart as slack defending from Tony Pulis' men allowed Berbatov to not only control Tevez's fiercely-driven pass but turn onto it as well.

Offered that kind of space, it would have been rude of the Bulgarian not to slam a volley past Sorensen as well.

From then on, United were able to try to tiptoe their way past Stoke's giant defenders. It should have suited Ronaldo down to the ground but the red mist, so normally associated with Rooney, had begun to descend.

He took a swing at Amdy Faye which, remarkably, he was able to get away with, although it did end up in a face-to-face confrontation with the former Portsmouth man as the niggling went on.

Ronaldo might have been one of the men replaced as Danny Welbeck, Darron Gibson and Manucho as Ferguson marked his own landmark day with a trio of Premier League debuts.

And, just like his manager, Welbeck scored, the England Under-19 forward crashing home in impressive fashion from 20 yards.

Ronaldo had the last laugh on his tormentors too as he powered home another free-kick, his ninth goal of a campaign that only started in the middle of September.

Source: Team Talk
Date Published: 15 November 2008