Carling Cup Semi Final, Leg One
Tuesday 19 January 2010, 20:00 KO
City: Given, Richards, Kompany, Boyata (Onuoha 69), Garrido, Barry, de Jong, Zabaleta, Bellamy, Wright-Phillips (Sylvinho 84), Tevez (Benjani 79)
Unused: Taylor, Robinho, Petrov, Ireland
Goals: Tevez (41 pen, 64)
Booked: de Jong
Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez
After one failed attempt to set the ball rolling on this tie due to the weather, City had a point to prove after a horror show at Everton, while United were on a roll after a comfortable victory against Burnley. City knew that taking a lead to Old Trafford in a week’s time would be vital and a clean sheet would also be preferable.
It was the visitors who got off to the better start, with a fair amount of possession in the City half without actually threatening. Fletcher crossed towards Giggs, but Richards was able to clear first and de Jong put in an excellent crunching tackle to welcome Rooney to the game.
City wanted a penalty after 14 minutes for handball when it looked like a Carlos Tevez cross was blocked with an arm, but the referee waved play on, before a Gareth Barry free kick was cleared comfortably by the United defence.
With 20 minutes on the clock, the visitors got themselves a goal. A corner was cleared by Tevez, but the ball was then swung out to the right to Valencia. He cut inside, beat Garrido with his cross and, despite Given saving from Rooney, Giggs was able to put the rebound into the open net. Not only did it put City behind, it gave United an away goal and neither side had come back to win a Manchester derby in a long time.
Five minutes later and Tevez should have pulled City level. He was found in acres of space in the United box, but his diving header was well, well wide of van der Sar’s far post and it was a let off for the away side.
On the half hour, a Zabaleta effort was deflected wide and, from the resulting corner, a Richards header hit Boyata and fell harmlessly into the goalkeeper’s hands. De Jong then had an effort well saved by the keeper, after he smashed it at the top corner from 25 yards. City weren’t quite out of first gear, but they were, at least creating chances.
Carrick then had United’s second shot of the night, but it never troubled Given, who watched it curl harmlessly over the bar from just outside the box. United might have been having more possession, but it was City creating the chances.
Then City will, perhaps, feel vindicated for the bad decision to award a penalty at Everton. Bellamy was pulled back by Rafael just outside the box and a combination of his fall and momentum took him over in the area and the referee awarded a penalty. Tevez stepped up against his former club and hammered it past van der Sar.
The first chance of the second half fell to the visitors. Rooney collected a pass from Brown and got his shot away and it took an excellent save from Given to stop a second away goal.
With 54 minutes gone, Kompany could have given City the lead with a header from inside the six yard box from a free kick, but it was well wide and the Belgian will have been disappointed he didn’t hit the target.
Just before the hour mark, City had a series of corners that could have resulting in them taking the lead. Bellamy’s cross missed everybody – including van der Sar – and falls to Richards, but he wasn’t able to react in time and it was cleared by the defence.
On the hour, a Rooney cross fell perfectly for Giggs at the back post and it took an excellent save from Given to deny the Salford-born-Welshman his second Manchester Derby goal in 14 years.
Then, with 64 minutes on the clock, Tevez did some more damage to his former club. An Wright-Phillips run won City a corner and, despite the initial cross being cleared, Zabaleta nodded to Kompany, who coolly squared and Tevez was on hand to nod home from three yards. His celebration right in front of the Manchester United bench went down well with the City crowd, too.
Van der Sar then kept the score at 2-1 with an excellent save from Wright-Phillips. Bellamy was sent through down the left and crossed for the little Englishman, who did superbly to get his volley on target and keep it down. It would have been a cracking goal.
Although the Dutchman nearly made a hash of a cleared a few minutes later, as he almost let Bellamy in, but he just about got away with it, clearing the ball into touch.
City were then thankful for substitute Nedum Onuoha’s defending. Given did well to save from a Wayne Rooney one-on-one, but the rebound fell to Owen, who took a touch and shot at goal. It was deflected past Given and going in, until Onuoha put his foot through it and sent it to the other end of the pitch.
Given was on hand to deny Rooney with an excellent save from his volley, before Valencia was unable to steer an Evra cross into the net from close range, clashing with the post instead.
Rooney was then denied by another Given save, this time pushing his low drive around the post for a corner, as United continued to press in the closing stages. Kompany, though, was on hand to get up well and clear the ball, as he had done all night.
City could have given themselves a two-goal lead to take to Old Trafford on two occasions, but Bellamy and Benjani couldn’t combine for one and Sylvinho’s legs couldn’t carry him any faster to get past Evans, both on the break.
City will, of course, be pleased with their lead in the tie and with the victory, especially after falling behind. Although Roberto Mancini would have preferred a clean sheet, City have the advantage. Even if it’s a very narrow one.