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Manchester United (1) 3 Coventry City (0) 2

Cedric Roussel was left with congratulations and precious little else for the second week running after notching a rare Old Trafford brace.

The 22-year-old has now scored seven goals since joining the club in October and is rapidly earning a reputation as a hot prospect and a considerable bargain.

His goals may not have counted for anything in the long run but the overall City performance was an age away from the FA Cup capitulation against Charlton last week.

Coventry have not contributed a great deal in recent visits to Old Trafford but this time, despite injuries and absentees, they pushed United all the way.

But that improvement came at a cost. Paul Telfer was stretchered off with a knee injury just nine minutes into the game forcing another reshuffle. John Eustace, disappointing in the FA Cup, was back on his game and played a part in both Roussel’s goals.

Strachan decided to change his back four and brought Tomas Gustafsson in for his full debut at right back and restored Richard Shaw to left back to nullify David Beckham’s presence. Robbie Keane was pulled back into midfield.

The policy worked to a point. The United midfield was made to work for any openings while City chased down the Red defenders forcing them to move the ball quickly.

That restricted United’s flow and they found it hard to service Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham. Scholes and Phil Neville forced Magnus Hedman into saves but the rearguard, with Gustafsson excelling, looked comfortable.

Until the 39th minute, that is. Then Cole picked up the ball outside the area, beat Gary Breen and cheekily chipped a shot over Hedman and in off the bar.

United were far more impressive in the second half and when Cole scored with a header from a David Beckham free kick after Steve Froggatt had fouled him, it looked to be over.

Many lesser teams would have cracked after going two down inside an hour but City appear to be made of sterner stuff and did not alter their shape or resolve.

They got their reward in spectacular style when Roussel put them right back in the hunt. Eustace made a determined run at the heart of the United defence inside the area and was only half stopped by Roy Keane.

The ball fell to Roussel and without any ceremony, he lashed a ferocious shot past Mark Bosnich and into the net. It was a just reward for the nearby City fans who had out-sung their rivals throughout the afternoon.

Paul Scholes, always prompting through midfield and working hard, restored the two goal margin with 14 minutes remaining and that looked to be it.

Sides do not often have the temerity to come back for a second time at Old Trafford, but City stuck at it and Roussel claimed another well-taken goal in the final minutes. Eustace was again the architect, producing a backflick which deceived the United defence and put Roussel in space.

He just managed to get his shot away as Jaap Stam slid in, sending a powerful shot across Bosnich and into the net.

Gordon Strachan was in buoyant mood despite the result and knows that his two Moroccans will be back on Monday ready for a push for the top ten.

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Bosnich; Gary Neville, Stam, Silvestre, Phil Neville; Beckham, Keane, Scholes, Solskjaer (Butt, 68 mins); Cole, Sheringham (Cruyff, 80 mins)
Subs: Van der Gouw, Irwin, Yorke

COVENTRY (4-4-2):
Hedman; Gustafsson, Breen, Williams, Shaw; Telfer (Eustace, 9 mins), McAllister, Palmer, Keane, Froggatt; Roussel
Subs: Ogrizovic, Gavin Strachan, Konjic, De Lorge

Manchester Utd - Cole (39, 55 mins), Scholes (77 mins)
Coventry - Roussel (65, 90 mins)

REFEREE: A Wilkie (Durham)

BOOKINGS: Manchester – Solskjaer (dissent)


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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 5 Feb 00

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM