Match Analysis: Manchester United 1-0 Reading

United's Wayne Rooney celebrates a goal against Reading on March 16, 2013
© PA Photos
Sports Mole casts an eye over Manchester United's 1-0 victory against Reading at Old Trafford.

A deflected goal from Wayne Rooney was enough for Manchester United to claim all three points against Reading at Old Trafford this evening.

The England international struck midway through the first half with an effort that looped into the net off Reading defender Alex Pearce.

It proved to be enough for the hosts, who held out during the second half to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League table to 15 points with nine matches left to negotiate.

Sports Mole looks back over the clash to determine if United were worthy victors or if Reading deserve a share of the spoils for their efforts.

Match statistics:

Man United:
Shots 17
On target 8
Possession 52%
Corners 5
Fouls 5

Reading:
Shots 5
On target 1
Possession 48%
Corners 4
Fouls 16

Was the result fair?

A 1-0 scoreline suggests that the match was a close one and Reading certainly competed well today. However, they caused very few problems to the United rearguard and for that reason alone you'd have to say that the hosts were just about worthy winners.

Man United's performance

Supporters of the league leaders will argue that the result is all that matters and there can be no arguing that. After all, the history books will read: 'Man United 1-0 Reading.' Still, the performance was lacking in urgency and they created very few chances over the course of the 90 minutes. At the same time, they never really looked like they were going to concede. Like they have done a few times this campaign, they got the job done.

Reading's performance

Today's display summed up the majority of Reading's season to date. They were neat and tidy for most of the match, but when it came to the final third, they were found lacking. On the plus side they were extremely well organised defensively and actually only lost to a deflected goal.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Adrian Mariappa: Reading always knew that were going to have to be good defensively today and none were better than Mariappa. He threw himself in front of numerous shots and was so often seen organising his teammates. On a couple of occasions he also showed that he was a threat in the opposition's penalty area.

Biggest gaffe

In an encounter of few errors, Stephen Kelly had one of those head-in-hand moments when he collected the ball on the touchline, only to completely mess up his control and run it out of play with no opposition player near him.

Referee performance

Lee Mason was a late replacement for Mark Clattenburg, who was injured in the warm-up. The new referee didn't let that hamper his performance, though, and he had a decent enough outing. Reading may feel slightly aggrieved that they didn't receive a penalty during the second half for a foul committed by Nemanja Vidic, but replays showed that Mason's view was blocked.

What next?

Man United: After the international break United will make the trip to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland on Saturday, March 30.

Reading: The Royals are on the road again next time out when they visit Arsenal's Emirates Stadium on the same day.

United's Wayne Rooney celebrates a goal against Reading on March 16, 2013
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