Carling Cup: Man United on track for clean sweep

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Manchester United stay on course for a clean sweep of silverware following a 4-1 penalty shoot-out victory over previous holders Tottenham Hotspur in the Carling Cup final at Wembley.

The victory gave United their second trophy of the season following December's Club World Cup triumph. The Red Devils also lead the Premier League by seven points and a game in hand, while they are well placed against Inter Milan in the last 16 of the Champions League and an FA Cup quarter-final with Fulham awaits on March 8.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson kept his promise to offer the likes of Ben Foster, Danny Welbeck and Darron Gibson their chance to write their names in United history, and bolstered the youngsters with the experience of Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes and Cristiano Ronaldo.

While Spurs were not helped by the fact they lost inspirational central defender Jonathan Woodgate to an Achilles injury after a pre-match fitness test, but Michael Dawson and Ledley King were excellent at the back.

And from the opening minutes, United posed the greatest threat, with Ronaldo dipping a trademark free-kick over the Tottenham crossbar.

Aaron Lennon then skipped past Patrice Evra and squared the ball past the diving Foster, only for Ferdinand to make a brilliant challenge which foiled Roman Pavlyuchenko.

Ferdinand then almost scored himself, controling on a thigh before unleashing a 30-yard volley which grazed the roof of the netting.

With 20 minutes remaining, Foster was forced into his first piece of action as Lennon found himself in acres with the best chance of the match, only to be denied by an excellent diving stop from the United goalkeeper.

But United almost dramatically won the match with the final kick of normal time as Ronaldo cut inside and fired a shot which beat Heurelho Gomes but smacked off the inside of the post and Nani made a hash of the rebound.

Extra-time produced one clear opportunity apiece, with Foster blocking Bent’s near-post effort and Evra sliding a fierce shot inches over the bar to mean that penalties were required.

Foster saved Spurs' first spot-kick from Jamie O'Hara and David Bentley missed the third before Anderson confidently fired his penalty into the corner and United were celebrating another shiny pot for their packed trophy cabinet.

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