Manchester United 2-1 Stoke City
United extended their lead at the top of the table to three points ahead of rivals Manchester City with a comfortable win against Stoke
The hosts started the game with an air of nonchalance, almost as if the Red Devils expected to breeze to a victory without hitting second gear. An early shot from Darron Gibson flew wide of the post, whilst Javier Hernandez showed astute positional awareness in the box and intelligent movement off the ball, almost getting on the end of a ball chipped forward by the influential Ryan Giggs. Dimitar Berbatov, who displayed a very positive attitude throughout the 90 minutes despite his somewhat unfair reputation, stabbed the ball just wide of the post after 20 minutes following a passage of neat play from Giggs, but United didn't have to wait too much longer to stroll their way to an opening goal with a flash of inspiration up front. Amidst a fairly subdued Old Trafford, Hernandez provided the United fans with good reason to cheer with a stunning little flick between his legs with his heel following a pinpoint cross from Luis Carlos Nani that left Asmir Begovic with no chance of making a save. The striker almost added a second before the break but Stoke had Robert Huth on hand to make a desperate but ultimately brilliant clearance from Nani's threatening cross but that was the only spark in an otherwise lifeless end to the first half. Tony Pulis sent his men out to start the second half with a more attacking approach, with Stoke guilty of sitting off the home side for large chunks of the opening 45 minutes and allowing the hosts to control the pace of the game far too readily. Stoke received their reward for adopting such an approach not soon after the restart, minutes after Sanli Tuncay sent a header just wide of the near post. It was a cross from Tuncay that led to Stoke's equaliser, with Dean Whitehead able to get his head to the ball before anyone else, sending it crashing past Tomasz Kuszczak. A decent few minutes of pressure from Stoke ended with Nani rolling the ball towards Berbatov in the box after waiting far too long to play the final ball. Berbatov was clearly furious at Nani for his hesitation, with the striker in a great position, but the winger made amends just 60 seconds later. Hernandez rolled the ball to Nani on the edge of the box and the United man showed great composure to control the ball before curling it into the net with his left foot. Tony Pulis replaced the ineffective Kenwyne Jones with Ricardo Fuller, who showed glimpses of the form that Stoke know he's capable of despite his injury-hit record, but United were rarely troubled by a Stoke attack lacking invention and a cutting edge. The home side had further chances to add to their lead, Giggs shooting over following a cross from Rafael and substitute Michael Owen falling over in the box after controlling a ball aimed towards him from Nani, but it was ultimately a very comfortable victory for a side that seem intent on strolling towards a potential league title.