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    West Ham


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    Man Utd




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    Aston Villa





Old Trafford, England

Referee: Peter Walton | Attendance: 75459

* Local time based on your geographic location.

Manchester United

  • Carlos Tevez 25'

1 - 0


Man United 1-0 Birmingham: Tevez injury worry

Carlos Tevez's excellent first-half strike proved enough to give Manchester United a winning start to 2008.

Sir Alex Ferguson's men were rarely at their best against a determined Birmingham outfit but the visitors never really looked like finding their way through a defence that has conceded just twice on home soil all season.

The beauty of Tevez's 10th goal of the campaign, a neat finish after Cristiano Ronaldo had returned the Argentine's overhead kick with a impish back-heel, was at odds with the fractured nature of the contest.

• Tevez worry for United

But, as Tevez also hit the post on two occasions, United were worthy of a 10th successive home win, even if the matchwinner's dummy-sucking celebrations raised an eyebrow or two.

And, the sight of the already-substituted former West Ham man needing to be carried to the dressing room by two members of United's backroom staff after the final whistle was not what Ferguson would have wanted.

Whether it was the new year festivities taking effect or just a belief that their team did not require any assistance to bounce back from Saturday's shock defeat at West Ham, there was a distinct lack of support from the United fans.

At times, the stadium was completely quiet, a fact not missed by the Birmingham contingent.

For long periods, precious little happened on the pitch to lift flagging spirits either.

Wayne Rooney's continued illness not only robs United of a key attacking force but also a man capable of bringing an entire crowd to its feet with one blockbusting surge or chase back to make a tackle.

Handed his first start since March, Park Ji-sung worked predictably hard, as did Nani on the left flank. But equally predictably, it was largely left to Ronaldo and Tevez to test Birmingham's defence.

Tevez might have put the hosts ahead in the opening stages when he rose to meet Patrice Evra's near-post cross. Instead, the South American powered his header against the foot of Maik Taylor's right-hand post, meaning United were forced to endure another 20 minutes of frustration before they eventually made their breakthrough.

Birmingham might feel aggrieved that Michael Carrick opted to play on when Cameron Jerome failed to rise from an aerial duel with Rio Ferdinand.

However, under the letter of the law, the Red Devils were entitled to do just that and Jerome's problem had little effect on what happened next as Carrick flicked the ball into Tevez's path.

After finding Ronaldo with an overhead kick, Tevez continued his run, collecting an inspired back-heeled return pass inside the Birmingham box before beating Taylor in a manner that looked far easier than it actually was, before celebrating in bizarre fashion, pulling a dummy out of his pocket and sticking it in his mouth.

Ferguson, completing a two-match touchline ban, must have been dismayed at his side's inability to capitalise on their advantage.

Had Gary McSheffrey showed a bit more calmness, he could easily have levelled with an angled drive, while Sebastian Larsson curled a free-kick straight at Tomasz Kuszczak in stoppage time.

Birmingham could only have gained more heart from surviving more United pressure at the start of the second period, when Tevez struck the post for a second time.

What the former Boca Juniors player lacks in size he more than makes up for in determination and after muscling his way on to Park's pass, Tevez deserved more than to see his 10-yard effort cannon back off the woodwork.

It seemed Ronaldo would eventually turn home the rebound but McSheffrey threw himself in the way of the winger's shot.

Taylor pawed the ball away from John O'Shea after he had spilled Tevez's fierce near-post cross at the Irishman's feet.

Tevez certainly deserved the standing ovation he received when he was replaced by Louis Saha 19 minutes from time but it must have been slightly frustrating his efforts had not wrapped up the points before his exit.

Birmingham promptly enjoyed their best spell of the game, with former Chelsea man Mikael Forssell causing some anxiety within home ranks when he drifted a low shot just wide.

Another Forssell volley followed but that too was off target and United's only remaining problem was the late booking picked up by Wes Brown that will rule him out of the encounter with Newcastle on January 12.

  • Tevez worry for United

    Carlos Tevez is a major doubt for Manchester United's FA Cup clash with Aston Villa next Saturday.

    After scoring the only goal to beat Birmingham at Old Trafford this afternoon,

    the South American eventually had to be replaced after failing to shrug off a

    hefty first-half bang on the ankle.

    Tevez was carried into the tunnel by two members of the United's backroom

    staff after the final whistle, with manager Sir Alex Ferguson confirming it is

    unlikely he will be involved at Villa Park next week.

    'It was a bad tackle and the longer the game went on, the worse the injury

    got,' said Ferguson.

    'In the end, we had to bring Carlos off. We will assess him tomorrow to see

    what the damage is but he is doubtful for Saturday now.'

    Happily, Ferguson should have a ready-made replacement for Tevez in Wayne

    Rooney, who missed a second successive game with a virus but is showing signs of

    being fine for the weekend.

    The Scot explained: 'It would have been a bit of a risk to play Wayne today

    but he should be fine for Saturday.'

    Ferguson was less than impressed by his team's efforts, describing United's performance as 'careless'.

    Certainly, Tevez's goal - with the striker finding Cristiano Ronaldo with an

    overhead kick before racing on to an inspired back-heeled return pass - was at

    odds with the rest of a mundane contest.

    Tevez also hit the post on two occasions, although even this failed to lift a

    crowd which was almost silent on occasion, drawing a stinging rebuke from


    'The crowd were dead,' he remarked. 'It was like a funeral out there.

    'It was the quietest I have heard here for some time and the atmosphere today

    did not help us.

    'There have been periods like that in the past. Some years ago, when we were

    dominant, the crowd came to be entertained.

    'Sometimes we need them to get behind us. They can help produce the right

    performance but we did not get that today.'

    Instead, the flat atmosphere only induced more sloppiness from United ranks,

    which would have proved costly if Mikael Forssell had found the target with two

    late chances.

    'It only takes a second to score and we made it difficult for ourselves. it

    was a careless performance,' added the United boss.

    'Our finishing was shoddy and by being as careless as as we did, we could

    have been embarrassed.'

    Ferguson admitted Tevez's strike was the one bright spot on an otherwise

    disappointing day, although his team do remain two points adrift of leaders


    'It marvellous goal and I think Carlos will go on to get 20 now,' said the

    Scot, who celebrated his 66th birthday yesterday.

    'Once we are over the New Year period, we can have a look at where we are.

    But effectively, the season starts now and it could be nip and tuck right to the


    Birmingham boss Alex McLeish was proud of his team's efforts, although that

    will not stop him trying to bring in some new faces during the transfer window.

    'People said I was pitting my wits against Sir Alex Ferguson but it is like

    using a pop-gun to take on a machine gun,' he said.

    'Manchester United had £125million worth of talent on the pitch, so you have

    to be realistic, even though I felt we could get something out of the game.

    'I am trying to add some new faces during the window because we are

    desperately short of bodies.

    'We have gone into our fourth game this week with more or less the same

    players and we just cannot rotate the way Sir Alex can.'

  • Scoring Summary

    • Manchester United
    • Birmingham City
    Carlos Tevez (25')

    Match Stats

    • Manchester United
    • Birmingham City
    20(13) Shots (on goal) 12(4)
    11 Fouls 8
    2 Corner kicks 0
    1 Offsides 1
    50% Time of Possession 50%
    1 Yellow Cards 4
    0 Red Cards 0
    3 Saves 6


    • Manchester United
    • Birmingham City
    Yellow Cards
    Wes Brown (90 + 1')