Who says Tevez and Rooney can’t play together? Down a goal after eleven minutes and was I worried? Not a jot. It was an enjoyable opening quarter and a joy to see open attacking football from two teams who wanted to win; it was no surprise when they scored first. A couple of lethal crosses should have had the alarm bells ringing, but the smooth slick, confident way we were playing had me convinced that there was no way that this game was going to end without us scoring. Although the manner in which the first goal came surprised me as much as apparently it did the Villa defence.
The speed of Nani’s pass across the goalmouth caught Villa unawares, presumably because of its pedestrian pace. As the defenders switched into ‘bullet mode’, NEO Rooney simply nipped in and side-footed the ball into the net. After that it was a master class in finishing off a team in shock. Tenacious dribbling and a scintillating pass from the ever industrious Tevez opened up the defence, allowing Rooney to score a delicious second. Then headless chicken defending let would-be forward Ferdinand add a third.
By half time the game was won and Villa’s nightmare was about to take a turn for the worse. Despite Martin O’Neill’s touchline aerobics, referee Rob Styles didn’t really have much of a choice about showing Reo-Coker and then Carson red. A Scottish Villa fan, actually more of a Martin O’Neill fan, sitting across from me in the bar, launched into a spiel that lasted until the final whistle about Rob Styles’ ability to make correct decisions, punctuating every second word with colourful, Celtic adjectives.
I know I’m biased, but I tried to see his point about Reo-Coker (Only an idiot would argue Carson’s case). If Paul Scholes had been Reo-Coker, when that second challenge came in I would’ve known immediately that he was walking and my reaction, as it has been on more than one occasion with Scholes, would have been, ‘that was bloody stupid,’ which is exactly what it was.
Sending off Carson, probably did Villa a favour, despite Giggsy’s double deflected fourth, reserve goalkeeper, Stuart Taylor saved the penalty and made at least two other point blank saves which would have pushed the score higher.
If Martin O’Neill thinks that Villa lost the game because of refereeing decisions, he shouldn’t be questioning the referee’s eyesight; he should be making an appointment with the optician come Monday. A team on sizzling form and a Mavis Riley defence were the real culprits; Villa had been well and truly beaten long before the sending offs.