ROONEY’S ON THE SPOT TO SAVE LVG

The Football League Paper - - FA CUP THIRD ROUND - By Colin Hen­rys

WAYNE Rooney’s stop­page­time penalty ended Sh­effield United’s hopes of a cup shock at Old Traf­ford – with Nigel Ad­kins adamant a re­play would have been de­served.

Rooney sent keeper Ge­orge Long the wrong way from the spot, af­ter Dean Ham­mond fouled Mem­phis Depay, just as the tie looked to be head­ing to a re­play.

And Ad­kins ad­mit­ted Ham­mond’s lung­ing tackle, which ap­peared to just catch the United winger, made a penalty in­evitable.

“A re­play would have been fan­tas­tic,” he said.“There was a steely re­solve and it’s just a shame we haven't got it across the line. It’s a shame.There were three re­sults on of­fer and we wanted two of them. The re­spect Manch­ester United have shown us showed they knew it would be a tough game.

“We were sit­ting there with that de­fen­sive shape and great credit to the play­ers. They showed de­ter­mi­na­tion to frus­trate a very good Manch­ester United side.

“An hon­est en­deav­our to win the ball has given the ref­eree the op­por­tu­nity to give the penalty and un­for­tu­nately they have scored it.”

Chances were min­i­mal in the firsthalf, with the League One side – de­spite play­ing with two strik­ers – pack­ing the de­fence and the hosts happy to pass the ball around.

Louis Van Gaal’s side were liv­ing on scraps though, with Rooney shoot­ing well over from dis­tance on 19 min­utes be­fore round­ing Long just a minute later only for Jay McEve­ley to block his at­tempted pull-back.

Still the Blades pa­trolled their area with au­thor­ity though, and when Rooney shot straight into the wall from a 25-yard free-kick on 44 min­utes the home fans’ frus­tra­tions grew.

A well-worked free-kick rou­tine threat­ened to ruin the vis­i­tors’ hard work on the stroke of half-time, but when Juan Mata picked out Da­ley Blind un­marked the Dutch­man blazed well over.

With the se­cond-half con­tin­u­ing in the same vein though, Louis van Gaal shuf­fled his at­tack­ing op­tions with the in­tro­duc­tion of Mem­phis Depay and Jesse Lin­gard on the hour.

And it was the in­tro­duc­tion of Mem­phis which fi­nally in­jected some life into the hosts’ at­tack – the Dutch­man fizzing a long-range ef­fort just wide on 66 min­utes.

At the other end Chris Basham found space to run at the hosts’ de­fence for a rare chance but his low left-footed shot was eas­ily dealt with by De Gea.

The Premier League side were on the charge again on 70 min­utes though, Mat­teo Darmian pounc­ing on a loose ball and forc­ing a low save from Long Still the Blades stood firm though, their de­fen­sive de­ter­mi­na­tion typ­i­fied by John Bray­ford’s cru­cial block to deny Mar­tial’s shot on 87 min­utes.

Mem­phis then cut in­side onto his right foot with less than a minute of nor­mal time re­main­ing, but his skid­ding shot zipped just wide. It was not to last though, the vis­tors’ re­solve fi­nally broke in the third of six min­utes added on when Ham­mond lunged in.

Rooney stepped up to end the Blades’ hopes of a re­play and Van Gaal said:“The only thing that counts is that we’re in the next round and we did it.

“Es­cape from jail? I don’t think so. It is al­ways dif­fi­cult to play against such op­po­nents How many chances have Sh­effield United cre­ated. No­body is talk­ing about that.They de­fended with ten, 11 play­ers be­hind the ball.

“You have to play more quickly than we did in the first half.We have to move the ball quicker. The gaps are com­ing and you have to see that as a player and pass at the right speed.”

STAR MAN JOHN BRAY­FORD

Sh­eff United

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