City stunned as the REDS go marching on
Last weekend’s 2-1 result was enough to wipe off the smiles from the faces of United fans. But this weekend’s 2-1 result brought them back; along with an extra smirk for the City fans. Yes, City are improving, but it seems that no matter how much money they spend, they will always remain a step behind the mighty REDS and the gaffer, Sir Alex Ferguson.
Now, as a ManUnited fan myself, I would love to go on and on about United’s performance, but since I have repeatedly been asked to write “UNBIASED” articles by my bosses on this site, I will try to chip in a word or two on City’s performance too. And sorry, but please don’t expect me to write a completely unbiased article; at least not on DERBY DAY…!
As usual, Sir Alex had a surprise in store for United fans. The ever-present John O’Shea started ahead of the fiery Rafael and many of us doubted if this would be a good move. But then, looking at the stature of City players (each and every one over 6 feet), it seems Sir Alex made the correct choice and outwitted us all, yet again.
Van Der Sar started for United and so did O’Shea, Vidic, Smalling and Evra. The 5 men midfield, a plot that worked against Arsenal was deployed again and Nani, Fletcher, Anderson, Scholes and Giggs were the men given with the duty to supply the final ball to the lone figure of Rooney up front. City had Joe Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Zabaleta, Barry, Toure, Kolarov, Milner, Silva and Tevez to show on their team sheet.
The match had a predictable beginning; United attacking from the word GO. United earned a corner in the opening minute but then it was City who took over the charge and had the first real chance of the match in the 3rd minute. A brilliant combination play by Tevez, Toure and Silva saw Silva’s attempt from an acute angle go just past United’s goal. A sigh of relief from the home fans…!
City’s dominance on the ball was evident from the statistic that they enjoyed nearly 60% possession in the first 25 minutes. But then, United are not a team to stay behind and watch. Nani tested Hart from time to time and seemed to be enjoying the space Zabaleta allowed him to create. Nani continuously lurked around the penalty box and hit 2-3 shots on goal before the half time itself. Kompany was the first to get into referee’s book as his mistimed tackle on United led to huge roar from the crowd and from the player himself. The two players exchanged words over the next 5 minutes even as the game continued.
5 minutes from half time, the 37 years YOUNG Giggs sent in a through ball to Nani, splitting apart City’s defense. Nani’s brilliant first touch took the ball away from his marker and a composed finish saw United go 1-0 ahead on the Derby day.
City began the second half in the same manner, creating chances but failing to deliver the final ball into the box. This was until Edin Dzeko, substituted for Milner, hit a shot from Shaun Wright Phillips’ (on for Kolarov) cross. The shot that seemed to be off-target then deflected from David Silva’s back and went past a helpless Van Der Sar, who could do nothing about the deflection. Proving Rio Ferdinand’s remark that “United never settle for a point”, Sir Alex brought top scorer Dimitar Berbatov on for Anderson. Dimitar Berbatov’s first job was to defend the City free kick. The Bulgarian looked sharp and dropped down deep into his own half to win the ball from City players. A moment of brilliance from Nani, where he twisted and turned and feinted his way past 3 City defenders, nearly saw United go ahead. But Nani’s shot was off target and went just over the City goal. And yet again, it was Nani whose cross found Rooney inside the penalty box in the 78th minute. The England international leaped up in air and hit a perfect bicycle kick past Joe Hart into the top corner of the net. The poor goalkeeper could do nothing but watch the ball go past him in awe…! United’s job was to defend the lead in the dying minutes and Ryan Giggs used all his experience to see United through. United are now 8 points ahead of City and still on TOP of the table.