Manchester United eased to victory in their third-round replay with Burton to end the Conference side’s FA Cup dream. The result was never in doubt from the moment Louis Saha converted Kieran Richardson’s cross after seven minutes. Giuseppe Rossi rose high to head home Mikael Silvestre’s cross on 22 minutes, and Richardson drove in powerfully to make it 3-0 shortly after the break. Substitute Ryan Giggs drove in the fourth and Rossi’s deflected drive in injury time completed the victory. Backed by almost 11,000 travelling fans – the largest visiting contingent ever seen for a competitive match at Old Trafford – Burton showed no sign of nerves during the opening exchanges. But it was United who took the lead with their first attack following a move of genuine quality. Gerard Pique’s superb pass to the left wing found Richardson in space and the midfielder picked out Saha with a low cross which the Frenchman slid home.
It was tough on the Conference side who had begun well. But their hopes were all but ended 15 minutes later as Rossi headed United’s second. Mikael Silvestre was the provider, picking up the loose ball and sending in a perfectly-weighted cross to the Italian. Burton remained positive and continued to play neat football, although they did not seriously threaten Tim Howard’s goal. Indeed United could have increased their lead before half time as a cross from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer eluded both Saha and Rossi by inches, then Saha dithered as he was put through by his strike partner. However, the home team made it 3-0 soon after the break for the third, as Richardson ran clear after Rossi’s astute touch and rifled a fine shot past Saul Deeney. Saha was again guilty of taking too long as he was put through on 66 minutes, allowing Andrew Corbett to make a good tackle.
But Giggs – who came on as a 62nd-minute substitute along with England internationals Gary Neville and Rio Ferdinand, much to Burton’s collective chagrin – soon grabbed the fourth as he drove in from a tight angle after the impressive Rossi put him through. And Rossi capped a fine display as he drove in the fifth in injury time, although he was helped by a sizeable deflection. Burton worked hard as they pressed for a consolation goal but, to the disappointment of their supporters, they found United in unforgiving mood as the home side booked their fourth-round trip to Wolves.
Demonstrated his fantastic ability and showed why SAF had fought so hard to bring him over from Parma.
Potentially, these really are exciting times at United. With Gerard Pique also showing his genuine quality- there really is a youthful look to the United side- all under 25: apart from Rossi and Pique- O’Shea, Brown, Richardson, Evra, Ronaldo, Ji Sung-Park, Smith, Bardsley, Fletcher…the list goes on. And given how hard it is to find a quality striker and the sort of money we would need to pay to replace a player of Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s class- Rossi seems to be showing the quality to step into those esteemed boots.
As Rossi said to MUTV
“Providing an assist is just as good as scoring a goal. I always look to get on the ball and try to make something happen when I get it. Scoring two goals was great but the most important thing was the result. The first match was a bit sloppy on our part but we picked things up and got the win we needed.“
To think that he is still eighteen! As Sir Alex said:
“I think Giuseppe is improving all the time. He scored two tonight and made two or three fantastic chances with good passes.”
And Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who knows a few things about quality strikers:
“He is a great talent and has great potential. He is one of the better finishers I have seen at such a young age, as he thinks about scoring goals before he gets the ball. He has got a great football brain and his work-rate is tremendous.”
So here is to the new Ruud!!!