Manchester United dropped their first points of the season as they were held to a tightly fought 1-1 draw at Stoke.  Nani and Peter Crouch scored the goals in a physical encounter.  Here are the player ratings.

STOKE CITY

Asmir Begovic (6.5): Could do nothing about the goal he conceded, but was very lucky to escape minutes later when he lost control of the ball but Nani failed to find the net.

Jonathan Woodgate (6):Not one of his best games. Could easily have been sent off for bringing down Hernandez early on but was lucky to escape with not even a foul. Brought Berbatov down in the second half and again got away with it. Should have been tight on Nani for the goal but was easily turned the Portuguese wizard.

Ryan Shawcross (7):Had a troubled first half in which he was caught terribly out of position for Nani’s goal and was also left for dead by Berbatov, but improved mightily in the second and put in a couple of superb challenges on Owen to deny him a goal scoring opportunity.

Marc Wilson (6): Struggled to deal with Nani throughout the game. He’s not a natural left-back and it showed as failed to deal with Nani’s trickery time and again.

Andy Wilkinson (8): Absolutely superb display for the man who was surprisingly selected ahead of Robert Huth. He kept tight on Young and did not allow any space to the English winger. Had to be subbed off after cramping with ten minutes to go. Got a deserved standing ovation.

Glenn Whelan (7): Kept a tight lid on things in the center on midfield but was struggling to keep up with Anderson at times. He and Delap were a little slow in the center of midfield but United failed to press their advantage.

Rory Delap (6.5): Stoke used his devastating throwing abilities to the maximum but faced stiff resistance from Jones and Ferdinand. The 35 year-old put in a hard working ahift and was replaced by Whitehead.

Matthew Etherington (7): Had creative sparks in patches. He has had an indifferent start to the season but he showed glimpses of the form he showed last season and it shouldn’t be long before he’ll be back to his best.

Jermaine Pennant (6): The only good thing about his performance was his pace. He just didn’t get into dangerous positions enough and failed to provide decent service to Peter Crouch.

Jonathan Walters (6.5) Wilson is known for his excellent work ethic and he put in another committed performance. Thought he had scored in the first half when he drilled a shot across goal but was thwarted by a stunning save by De Gea.

Peter Crouch (7.5): He got his first goal for the club as he brushed off Phil Jones from the corner and headed past De Gea. Missed a one on one moments later as well as another free header from a corner.

Subs:

Dean Whitehead (6): Replaced Delap in the last ten minutes and didn’t have an impact.

Robert Huth (6): Replaced the brilliant Wilkinson and saw out the game comfortably enough.

Cameron Jerome (N/A): Was thrown on in the last minute of normal time to waste time by Tony Pulis.

 

MANCHESTER UNITED

David De Gea (9): Pulled off two stunning saves in the first half to keep his team in front and continued that strong performance in the second half. Refused to cower in the face of real physicality from Stoke.

Phil Jones (7.5): Defensively sound, he has shown a habit of making attacking runs from time to time and proved a real thorn in Stoke’s backside as he made those runs while also keeping things tight at the back. At fault for Stoke’s equaliser, he didn’t get close to Crouch.

Rio Ferdinand(7): Had a solid first half but was wobbly in the second. Had a real moment of concern when he failed to head the ball and Crouch stole in and almost scored. Was struggling for fitness at the end.

Patrice Evra (7): Another solid performance by the stand in skipper for United. Looked defensively secure and ably supported the visitors going forward.

Antonio Valencia (6.5): He was a last minute replacement for the injured Evans and was drafted in to play at right-back again. Had a decent game and didn’t allow Etherington too much space to work with. Was caught out of position on a couple of occasions but all in all a hard working shift.

Anderson (6.5): An able partner for Fletcher, he kept the play ticking along but lacked the creative spark that United need in the center of midfield.

Darren Fletcher (7.5): A superb midfield display and he looks back to his best after recovering from a virus that has kept him out for the last 4 months. Was a rock in midfield and did not allow Stoke a moment’s rest as he snapped into tackles.

Ashley Young (6.5): Struggled to beat his man, Wilkinson, in the first half. Failed to throw off the shackles imposed on him by the Stoke right back. Taken off and replaced by Giggs in the second half.

Nani (8.5): In the absence of Rooney, he shouldered the responsibility of goal-scoring and got United’s goal with a sublime finish after a lovely give and go with Fletcher. Ran Stoke ragged throughout.

Javier Hernandez (N/A): Lasted only four minutes after a heavy collision with Begovic and was replaced by Owen.

Dimitar Berbatov (6): Just did not get into the game at all. Showed a couple of good touches on the ball but failed to find any space. It was a rare start for the Bulgarian and he failed to capitalize and may well live to regret it. Replaced by Welbeck in the second half.

Subs:
Michael Owen (6.5): Came on early in the first half for Chicharito and put in a very hard working shift, chased down the Stoke defense and tried to make things happen but just couldn’t get in the game thanks to some excellent Stoke defending.

Ryan Giggs (6.5): Came on for Ashley Young and had a glorious chance to win it for United at the death but volleyed wide under pressure from Begovic.

Danny Welbeck (6): Replaced the ineffective Berbatov in the second half but was hardly involved in the game.

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