Manchester United 1 - 1 Arsenal

Manchester United 1 - 1 Arsenal (Man Utd win on Penalties)

FA Community Shield
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

It was Manchester United who came out victoriously from the first truly competitive game of the season. Playing in the Community Shield, the Reds managed to beat title-rivals Arsenal, although they needed penalties to do so!

Despite the fact that there had been a minutes silence in honour of the late Jimmy Davis (A Manchester United youth team player), the game started at a pace, with the first two yellow cards handed out in the first two minutes. Whilst it may have been inadvisable for referee Bennett to start the bookings so early, both Phil Neville and Ashley Cole deserved to be carded.

The game settled down over the ensuing ten minutes, with the heat - 32° c - forcing the players to slow themselves down a little. It was Arsenal who had the first attack, but debutant goalkeeper Tim Howard managed to pull off a comfortable block.

Having seen Arsenal make little of their corner, Man U showed them how to do it. The corner, won off a Silvestre long-ball to Solskjaer, was whipped in towards the near post by new set-piece-specialist Giggs. Keane "gave it the eyebrows", flicking it on to the charging Silvestre, left unmarked by the brittle Arsenal defence, who headed the ball in with ease. 1 - 0.

Arsenal recovered well, and it was Thierry Henry who levelled the match with a free-kick that was placed just outside Howard's grasp. The keeper could have done better, and this error of judgement marred what was otherwise a great performance.

Indeed, it was Howard who came away with the plaudits following the penalty competition.

The game had ebbed and flowed, with few clear-cut chances going either way. A few clumsy challenges led to further bookings, whilst Campbell and Cole both got away with foul play (kicking out at the Reds!) The referee finally took action when Jeffers, on for the lacklustre Bergkamp, tangled with Phil Neville. Jeffers stood up having lost the ball eager to punish his opponent, catching Neville round the head with his boots. The referee saw it all, and Jeffers was off.

Man Utd pushed and pushed for another goal, but could find few areas of weakness as Arsenal reverted to all-out defending. The final whistle went, and, where last year there would have been extra-time, this year there was only penalties.

With Manchester United going first, and Howard saving Arsenal's penalty, United could have had a 3 - 1 lead. Van Nistelrooy stepped up to take the "pressure penalty", but was saved for only the second time in Manchester united colours. He was saved from embarrassment by Howard, who pulled off a fine stop from Robert Pires, to become the hero of the day.

The Shootout

Man Utd 4 - 3 Arsenal

Paul Scholes (Man Utd) scores
Edu (Arsenal) scores
Rio Ferdinand (Man Utd) scores
Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Arsenal) misses
Ruud van Nistelrooy (Man Utd) misses
Sylvain Wiltord (Arsenal) scores
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Man Utd) scores
Lauren (Arsenal) scores
Diego Forlan (Man Utd) scores
Robert Pires (Arsenal) misses

Manchester United: (4-5-1) Howard; Phil Neville, Ferdinand, Silvestre, Fortune; Solskjaer, Butt, Keane, Scholes, Giggs; van Nistelrooy.

Arsenal: (4-4-2) Lehmann; Lauren, Cole, Campbell, Toure; Parlour, Ljungberg, Silva, Vieira; Henry, Bergkamp.

Referee: S Bennett (Kent)