welbeck gives holders victory

At a time when English clubs' recruitment of overseas youngsters is attracting the disapproving attention of FIFA, one of Manchester United's true home-grown talents sent their 10 men into the Carling Cup fourth round with a 1-0 win over Wolves.

Born in Longsight, a long stone's throw from Old Trafford, England Under-21 international Danny Welbeck calmly ensured Wolves were not able to profit from the dismissal of Fabio after just half an hour.

Welbeck finished in fine style after running on to Michael Owen's precise return pass, ensuring the holders' progress to the last 16 was smooth after a largely one-sided contest in which the loss of a player had barely any impact.

As expected, Ferguson changed his entire starting line-up from Sunday's dramatic derby draw with City.

Yet there were still opportunities for Michael Carrick and Nani, who both missed out at the weekend, plus Owen and Tomasz Kuszczak who, in their own individual way, had something to prove.

Owen has now shown his goalscoring instinct remains. Yet, as a 90-minute player he remains a bit of an unknown.

In fairness to the veteran forward, the presence of Federico Macheda and Welbeck alongside him meant he had to do more tracking back than he would normally expect and it was only after United's numbers were reduced that he really came into his own.

Kuszczak must have sensed a Premier League start at Stoke would follow an eye-catching display given Ben Foster's pitiful experience against the Blues, when he was directly responsible for one goal and hardly covered himself in glory with the last.

The Pole benefited from Fabio's departure too, producing a fine fingertip save to deny former United midfielder David Jones with the resultant free-kick.

All in all then, with the contest turning into a keenly-fought affair instead of the sterile stalemate that had gone before, the sending-off was no bad thing, except for poor Fabio, who cut a dejected figure as he made his way off the field.

In truth, the Brazilian could have no complaints.

Put in trouble by Jonny Evans' failure to win an aerial duel with the robust Stefan Maierhofer and Wes Brown over-running the loose ball which momentarily escaped his vision, Fabio looked like getting back to challenge Kightly.

Unluckily, he slipped just at the wrong moment, so in sticking out a despairing arm to prevent Kightly charging clear into the box, he brought the Wolves man down for what was ruled a professional foul.

Owen had United's best chance before the interval but could only turn a header straight at Marcus Hahnemann, who experienced his own Foster moment just before the break when his attempted clearance was charged down by Welbeck.

Fortunately for the veteran American, it bounced to safety.

A surging Welbeck run created an opportunity Darron Gibson should have done more with, and only Nani's poor cross prevented him setting up Carrick after Gary Neville had sent the Portugal wide-man racing forward.

The goal, when it eventually came, just emphasised the gulf in class.

Wolves thought they had the situation under control when Gibson rolled a sideways pass to Carrick 30 yards out.

But within an instant, the England midfielder had created space for Welbeck, whose first time pass was returned in equally promising manner by Owen, who succeeded in providing his young team-mate with an opportunity to run onto the ball, clear of the Wolves defence.

The finish was first-time too. Straight into the bottom corner, as befits a player currently making the graduation from England Under-19 to Under-21 duty and surely destined for even higher honours one day.

Welbeck departed to a standing ovation from United's lowest crowd for four years - which still exceeded 50,000 - for another teenager, Norwegian Joshua King, of whom very big things are expected.

With a bit more composure and a little bit of luck, King might have marked his debut with a goal too, although ultimately one proved to be enough.

  • Fergie wants family tie in draw Sir Alex Ferguson wants a Carling Cup last 16 meeting with son Darren, manager of Championship side Peterborough. "Peterborough at home," he said. "All the family should be happy with that." "It was a fantastic goal," purred Ferguson over Welbeck's winner. "There was some quality passing involved in the move and he took it really well. It was obviously a difficult job for him, playing with 10 men for so long, but the goal told you everything about the boy's quality. He earned it." Ferguson had no complaints over Fabio's dismissal for hauling down Michael Kightly after the youngster had slipped as he attempted to make a tackle. The Scot was delighted with his side's discipline in possession, which left Wolves chasing shadows for long periods under Kevin Doyle brought a bit of spark late on. But, having changed his entire starting line-up from Sunday's breathtaking win over Manchester City, Ferguson felt vindicated in his selection policy which allowed him to introduce 17-year-old Norwegian Joshua King for his debut, another promising striker to emerge at Old Trafford. "The boy has a really good future," said Ferguson. In fact, with Welbeck, Federico Macheda and Joshua King we have some really good young strikers. It is a long time since we had a group as good as that coming through the club." Wolves boss Mick McCarthy accused his side of showing a lack of belief when they were facing 10 men. "I preferred it when they had 11," said McCarthy. "Manchester United have done it many times before, against clubs who have been in the Premier League far longer than us. "They pick teams off and get to the other end of the pitch by playing through you. We were in the game more before they had a man sent off. But the result was more about us, our confidence and our belief in beating a team with 10 men." Yet McCarthy refused to castigate a team for whom Kightly and former United striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake were returning after extended periods on the sidelines. "We have been in the Premier League for three months," he said. "That doesn't make us a Premier League team. We are a football club that has got itself into the Premier League and for most of the time we have competed. "Manchester United are arguably the best team in Europe. Liverpool have a similar set-up, and Arsenal. We are snotty-nosed kids coming up from the Championship. "Is it a case of us coming up here and having our bellies tickled and for them to say, 'thanks for coming'? I don't like that. But it is part of the learning process."

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