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United 3 Villa 2

There is no game that is worth more than three points, yet some are certainly more significant than others. After 20 minutes against Liverpool the league seemedf to be over- United were effectively 10 points clear also with a game in hand. Yet what followed that day could have ruined United’s title charge- both the defeat at Fulham and Liverpool’s 5-0 win against Villa. And that brought us into this weekend which we all knew would have a big say in the title. I was in a good mood yesterday watching Liverpool as the second half died out and their first half dominance has not paid off. However, that moment when Benayoun smashed in the winner really got me and had me rattled. I knew how much pressure it put on us today and also knew how awful our players would have felt watching it. Let’s be honest, Liverpool looked like potential champions when that went in. They did what we have done time and time again and they have come back from the most abysmal run to be back in this title race. They have beaten us twice, beaten Chelsea twice, thumped Madrid and done most of it with Torres out as well as spells of injury for Gerrard. It has to be concerning that they are hitting form now at the worst possible time we could imagine.

And that brings us today. We had to respond and in the end we could not have done so in a more damaging way than we did. Our team was depleted both in defence and attack, the pressure seemed to have got to us, we were up against a very strong Villa side, we were 2-1 down looking hopeless with 12 minutes left, yet we did what champions do- find a way to win and silence Merseyside. However painful Benayoun’s goal was for us, Macheda’s was far worse for them. The weekend was looking so good for them, now we are back on top, have our confidence back, will get players back from suspension and injury and they have to spend another week looking up at us.

I’m not going to write about the game as no doubt everyone has seen it but I do want to say that the roar as we scored that final goal was absolutely awesome. I often write about the chaos after a goal as people jump up and down like lunatics and fall over seats. Today was a different league of passion at Old Trafford- up there with Scholes against Barca last season, Andy Cole on last day in ‘99 and Steve Bruce in ‘93. This was not just a goal it was a message and a season defining moment. The team walked off that pitch in a completely different manner to if Federico had not found the net and will step out for the next game with a different league of confidence too. The usual swagger should be back in place of the nerves that have been all too clear in recent games, and Rooney, Rio, Vidic and co will be back too.

A star was born today and whatever path his career takes he will not be forgotten. Today was ‘only’ three points but with any luck it will shatter the scousers and give United a platform to take control in the last eight games. Well done Federico, we are in debt to you.

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  1. Shaun :: April 5th, 2009 10:20 pm

    Great stuff Oli, as usual.

  2. Darren :: April 5th, 2009 10:48 pm

    It was like 54 million of us round the world willed that ball to bend in. I’m still buzzing…

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