Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Brilliant Chicharito Inspires United

Javier Hernandez scores United's openerWhen a small, Mexican chap called "The Little Pea" joined Manchester United at the end of last season, doubters were aplenty, and critics pointed to Chicharito's near retirement a year earlier as evidence of a lack of commitment. As usual, Sir Alex ignored his media criticism and continued preach the virtues of Javier Hernandez, virtues that were demonstrated on multiple occasions, during the striker's superb World Cup campaign.

Having spent the entirety of Mexico's opener on the substitute's bench, Chicharito got his first taste of World Cup action against France. Having come on as a substitute, the young Mexican made an immediate impact, showing remarkable poise to round French keeper Lloris and give Mexico the lead.

Several days later, Chicharito was at it again, as his powerful strike gave Mexico hope in their Round of Sixteen defeat at the hands of Diego Maradona's Argentina side. Mexico were out, but Chicharito had shown the world exactly what he had to offer.

Fast forward several months, and Hernandez is starting ahead of Dimitar Berbatov, in Manchester United's most important game of the season, a second leg encounter with Marseille.

After the first leg in France, Nani told the press that United would be sure to progress to the Quarter Finals as long as they took the lead early, and, on five minutes, Hernandez provided that early goal. With Marseille still reeling after United's impressive start, Rooney collected the ball just inside the area, and fired a cross shot across the six yard area, and into the path of the waiting Hernandez. Having played ninety fruitless minutes in Marseille without even coming close to scoring, United had the lead within the first six minutes of the return leg.

As the game dragged on United became more and more nervous, and it was clear to the everyone viewing that a second goal was needed to cure the dangerously high blood pressure levels of those watching inside Old Trafford. If that second goal was to come, the man who looked most likely was Chichartio, and the former Chivas Guadalajara striker duly obliged on seventy-five minutes.

Having come on for the ineffective Nani, Antonio Valencia flicked the ball between two Marseille defenders, and into the path of Ryan Giggs, who's cross into the six yard box was swept home by the waiting Hernandez.

Virtually home and dry, or so it seemed, watchers inside the Theater of Dreams were baying for the hat trick, and with United's counter attack on song, it seemed only a question of time until Hernandez would receive one, golden, opportunity.

Unfortunately for Hernandez and his crazed sombrero wearing following, the hat trick goal was not forthcoming, and in fact it was Marseille who struck next.

Having been introduced only minutes earlier, Matieu Valbuena swung in a superb corner kick, which was headed home by Wes Brown, despite the best efforts of Scholes on the line. Marseille were back in the game, and all of a sudden the atmosphere at Old Trafford had changed from one of raucous celebration to one of anxious silence.

In all honesty, descriptions of United's supposed "nervy finish" and "clinging on job" were totally fabricated. The last ten minutes of the match were approached extremely well by United, with the back four defending confidently, and the midfield maintaining possession with thought and poise.

However, the final whistle was still greeted with a roar more of relief then celebration from some sections of the ground while others simply basked in their side's place in Friday's Quarter Final draw. But as 75,000, satisfied United fans filtered out of the stadium, one reaction was common to all, the name on everybody's lips was Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez.

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