Wayne Rooney comes off the bench to inspire Manchester United to a 2-1 Victory over a heroic Aston Villa.
All the talk of Aston Villa’s first piece of silverware for a decade proved to be little more than a dream as Manchester United walk away from Wembley as Carling Cup Champions.
But that’s not to say they were a walkover for the reigning champions. The Villains had enjoyed a bright start as James Milner dispatched a penalty past Tomasz Kuszazck (Despite his Nike CTR360‘s slipping slightly on the uncharacteristically unstable Wembley turf) to give them an early advantage.
It was, however, the manner in which the penalty was given that would prove to be the talking point of the final. Nemanja Vidic let Gabriel Agbonlahor’s pace get the better of him, and in a desperate attempt to regain some ground the Serbian international hauled the pacey Villa Striker to the turf, just inside the 18-yard box. Much to the dismay of the watching Villa faithful (and the surprise of his Manchester United colleagues) Vidic wasn’t shown a card for his offense by referee Phil Dowd and United played on with 11 men.
Villa’s lead wasn’t to last, though, as Richard Dunne recovered well to tackle Dimitar Berbatov, only for the ball to roll out of the tangle of legs and into the path of a grateful Michael Owen, who slid his shot into the far post to beat Brad Friedal to bring the Red Devils back level.
The next hour was filled with half chances and near misses for both teams, with Park Ji-Sung going the closest to breaking the deadlock with a left-footed drive against the post just before half-time.
It was the introduction of the talismanic Wayne Rooney for the injured Michael Owen that was to be the deciding change of the match, as the England forward made a nuisance of himself across the pitch before pinpointing a header into the top corner of Friedal’s goal to give his team the lead.
From then on, Manchester United had a chance to go further ahead as Rooney once again met the ball with his head on the edge of the Villa 6-yard box, only this time the ball kindly spun off the inside of the post and away from danger.
A determined Villa piled the pressure on United' as they threw on John Carew (Who’s still sticking to his Blazing Yellow Puma v1.10‘s) and sat Richard Dunne up front with him to add some height and strength to their front line. United held firm, though, and the day was theirs as they retained the Carling Cup