Tag: Steven Nzonzi

Premiership: Man Utd 2-1 Stoke

Manchester United continued their recent revival with a fourth successive win which strengthens their place in the Premier League top four.

The home side led when Marouane Fellaini headed in Ander Herrera’s left-wing cross at the far post.

Stoke equalised through Steven N’Zonzi’s low shot, but they slipped to a third straight loss when Juan Mata’s free-kick from the right sneaked in.

However, Stoke’s Mame Biram Diouf was twice denied an injury-time equaliser.

The 26-year-old Stoke forward, who had an undistinguished spell at Old Trafford earlier in his career, saw United keeper David De Gea claw out his header before emergency full-back Ashley Young cleared another effort off the line seconds later.

Diouf was left mystified at the final whistle by his inability to earn a point for the visitors, shaking his head in disbelief as he slowly trudged off the pitch.

A draw would have been harsh on United, who controlled the game throughout, but had to rely on a piece of fortune for the winner.

Spain midfielder Mata’s set-piece evaded all the players waiting in the penalty area, although team-mate Marcos Rojo claimed he flicked in the final touch.

However, United boss Louis van Gaal will not be too bothered about the identity of the goalscorer. The Dutchman breathed a huge sigh of relief as he marched down the Old Trafford tunnel as his team continue to build momentum, despite failing to turn almost 70% of possession into more goals.

Van Gaal was unable to call on skipper Wayne Rooney or Angel Di Maria, with the pair missing from United’s squad through injuries sustained against Hull on Saturday.

And for large periods, the home side sorely missed the pair’s attacking guile.

But Stoke rarely looked like ending a dismal run of 11 successive Old Trafford defeats – until the late drama involving Diouf.

Old Trafford lost some of its famed ‘fear factor’ last season as United slumped to seven home Premier League defeats in a terrible first campaign following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

That aura of invincibility appears to have returned under Van Gaal, whose team have taken 19 home points from a possible 21 since defeat by Swansea on the opening day.

Potters boss Mark Hughes indicated his side would not be afraid to “have a go” at United, but they rarely looked like carving open a makeshift home defence until stoppage time.

United controlled the tempo and deservedly led when Spanish midfielder Herrera was allowed too much time and space to pick out Fellaini, who outjumped Erik Pieters to powerfully nod in.

Hughes was furious with the space that his side allowed Herrera, but his demeanour changed when N’Zonzi calmly guided a 20-yard shot past De Gea with Stoke’s first attempt on goal.

But Mata’s intervention moved United within two points of second-placed Manchester City, who travel to Sunderland on Wednesday, while Stoke remain four points above the relegation zone.

Read more at BBC Sport

League Cup: Stoke 2-3 Southampton

Southampton beat Stoke for the second time in four days to reach the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup.

This game was much more eventful than Saturday’s 1-0 Premier League victory, with Graziano Pelle netting his second to make it 3-2 two minutes from time in the Potteries.

Saints looked in control at half-time at two up through Pelle and Shane Long’s first for the club but Stoke levelled through Steven Nzonzi and Mame Biram Diouf.

However, moments after substitute Peter Crouch was sent off, Pelle grabbed his second to earn Southampton their ninth win in 10 games.

Both managers resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes, with 16 of the players on show having started at the weekend.

Mark Hughes gave Bojan Krkic a rare start, the former Barcelona forward appearing for the first time in nearly a month, while Saturday’s goalscorer, Sadio Mane, missed out with a knock so Long came in for the visitors.
Despite the strong sides, there were plenty of empty seats at the Britannia Stadium, although more than 2,000 Southampton fans had made the trip.

And they were celebrating inside six minutes as Pelle notched his ninth of the season.

This was arguably his best, the Italian picking up the ball in the middle of the park and taking advantage of the space given to him by the Stoke defence to pick his spot just inside Asmir Begovic’s post from 25 yards.

Stoke hit back with a spell of pressure but, like at St Mary’s, were unable to create any real chances.

The closest they came was a 19th-minute cross from Jonathan Walters that Nathaniel Clyne got his head to just before Marko Arnautovic.
Saints certainly looked to have the greater class in attack and a flowing move ended with them doubling their lead on the half-hour mark.

Dusan Tadic played in Steven Davis on the right of the area and he pulled the ball back for Long to slot under Begovic.

Pelle should have made it three shortly afterwards but blazed over and salt was rubbed into Stoke’s wounds when they thought they had scored only for Walters’ shot to be ruled out for offside.

The striker was definitely standing beyond the last defender but the assistant referee waited until the ball was nestling in the net before raising his flag.

The Stoke players came out early for the second half and it took them only four minutes to halve the deficit.

Read more on Yahoo Sport