Forlan continues form to flatten Burnley

Burnley 0 Manchester United

Tim Rich
Wednesday 04 December 2002 01:00
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When he said he did not intend retiring without winning another trophy, it is unlikely Sir Alex Ferguson had the Worthington Cup in mind.

However, seven years after being told he would win nothing with kids and a decade since he last lifted the League Cup, the Manchester United manager might fancy this maligned piece of silverware. His young side, stiffened with a smattering of veterans, qualified for the quarter-finals of the Worthington Cup last night by overcoming the most intense atmosphere many of them would have experienced.

For United, this was a skirmish sandwiched between two potentially decisive battles in the Premiership, but for Burnley this was everything; the first time one of the most resonant Lancashire derbies had been played since 1984. And as that was a 7-0 aggregate thrashing in the League Cup, it was not an occasion that would be recalled fondly at Turf Moor, which last night seethed with commitment on and off the pitch.

Had Gareth Taylor taken one of the three first-half chances which fell his way, two shots clipped in at the near post and a powerful header tipped over the bar by Roy Carroll, the throng which entered the Clog and Spindle pub across the road from Turf Moor might have filled their conversation with tales of victory. However, last night proved that effort and graft is no substitute for finishing.

Diego Forlan and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer demonstrated the art of goalscoring effortlessly. Forlan's first, in the 35th minute, blunted the flow of the game which until then had been running relentlessly Burnley's way, while Solskjaer's, half an hour later, finished the match as a contest, capping what Ferguson called "a good, competent performance". Arsenal, he added, would come to Old Trafford on Saturday having had a week off, but United would have tasted another victory.

The pass which paralysed Burnley's offside trap to send the Uruguayan clear on goal was better than competent, especially since it was delivered by John O'Shea, who had been pressed into service as a midfielder. It was a better goal than either of the two Forlan had scored at Anfield on Sunday, although given the nature of the competition it is likely to be forgotten by all but the most die-hard of United fans.

Even though they fielded an almost first-choice defence, United's back four was much less certain, especially when faced by Glen Little, a footballer whose talents Ferguson "raved about over dinner", according to the Prime Minister's director of communications, Alastair Campbell. More than once Mikaël Silvestre came close to conceding a penalty.

Danny Pugh, playing his first game for United, would have watched the finishing of Solskjaer and Forlan with envy and on another night he might have crowned his debut with a hat-trick. Two crosses from Solskjaer, fell to Pugh, who was unmarked a dozen yards out. The first was saved superbly by Marlon Beresford; the second was missed altogether. When a third chance was smothered, Pugh would have wanted to see his number on the substitutes' board.

In fact, Ferguson had removed Michael Stewart for Paul Scholes, with a brief to take a station deep in midfield and bring some calm and order to a United side which until the second goal was in danger of being panicked by the ferocity of Burnley's play. While Ferguson was prepared to respect the competition by fielding a stronger than expected side, he certainly was not prepared to risk extra time.

Burnley (4-4-2): Beresford; West, Davis, Gnohéré (A Moore, 73), Branch; Little, Weller, Cook (Grant, 55), Briscoe (Papadopoulos, 66); Blake, Taylor. Substitutes not used: I Moore, McGregor.

Manchester United (4-4-2): Carroll; P Neville, Brown, May, Silvestre; Chadwick, Stewart (Scholes, 57), O'Shea, Pugh; Forlan (Giggs, 75), Van Nistelrooy (Solskjaer, h-t). Substitutes not used: Roche, Ricardo (gk).

Referee: N Barry (Scunthorpe).

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