Late twist paints Manchester Red

There were records and pride at stake, there was revenge on the cards. The title challenge was also at stake when the blues and reds of Manchester faced each other at the Etihad Stadium on Super Sunday.

Late twist paints Manchester Red

Late twist paints Manchester Red

The noisy neighbours who stole the title from under their city rival’s nose in the last minute of the last season was on a unbeaten run in the premier league and were undefeated at home since December 2010. Roberto Mancini had to concentrate hard on the League title after their second consecutive group stage exit.

United had a 3 points lead over City going into the match and were high on confidence following their Champions League advancement and league form. City on the other hand was unbeaten in the league and winless in the Champions League and exited the tournament after finishing last in the group.

United were favourites going into the match despite being the away side. They were without Danish stopper Lindergaard after he was unavailable after his wife went into labour. De Gea therefore automatically started between the sticks. Rafael who was substituted early in the first half against Reading was picked again. Evan and Ferdinand were in the centre at the back and Evra on the left.

Valencia, Carrick, Cleverly and Young played in the centre of the field with Rooney and Van Persie playing up-front.

For City the surprise in the starting line-up was the inclusion of Mario Balotelli. The Italian who has been out of favour recently and rarely started a match was given the starting spot ahead of in-form Tevez and Dzeko. Aguero paired him up front. David Silva, Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry and Nasri played in the midfield.

Zabaletta played as right back with Kompany and Nastasic in the centre. Gael Clichy returned to the side after his injury.

City dominated possession right from the start but the first real chance of the game and United’s first proper attack came in the 16th minute of a counter attack. Van Persie flicked the ball to Young who made a terrific run beating the City defence to eventually pull the ball back to Rooney. Rooney tried to pull his shot to the bottom corner but did not connect well, nevertheless the ball ended in the back of the net as Joe Hart just stood and watched expecting the ball to go out of play.

Things started to get worse for City when their Captain and Premier League player of the season in 2011-12 Vincent Kompany had to be taken off in the 21st minute. United then doubled their lead in the 29th minute when once again Rooney finished off well of a Rafael cross.

United defended well to keep City at bay; Sergio Aguero and David Silva proved to be the biggest threats to the Red Devils.

The first half ended 2-0 to United.

Both teams came out for the next half with any change but soon made changes to their squad. Mario Balotelli once again scripted his own downfall after he tried to back-heel the ball to Aguero. The attempt failed as he could not even manage to get a touch of the ball. Mancini’s anger was clearly visible as he turned to the bench in clear disgust and indicated to Tevez to get on the pitch.

The introduction of Tevez gave City more energy as the continued to put pressure on the United defence. United also made their first change when Chiris Smalling replaced Johnny Evans.

United came close to scoring their third when Van Persie’s curled shot hit the post, Young tapped in the rebound but was judged offside.

City’s first goal eventually came from Yaya Toure in the 60th minute, Carlos Tevez did well to set up the goal. The goal gave City more confidence as they started to gain momentum and seize control of the match slowly.

In the 73rd minute City were attacking through Yaya Toure and had outnumbered the red t-shirts at that instant, but the referee Martin Atkinson pulled the play back to book Wayne Rooney much to the displeasure of the City players and manager.

David Silva and Aguero continued to make good runs with the ball and their movement gave United some trouble. Alex Ferguson eventually decided to go defensive as he brought on Phil Johnes.

Silva came close to scoring after he made a dashing run into the box and then dummied Evra to fire in his shit. The shot hit De Gea’s shoulder and then hit the post and went out.

Dzeko had come on for City in the meantime and had a chance to score with his first touch, but the super sub was denied by Smalling.

City were awarded a corner after Silva’s shot. The resulting corner was cleared but not cleared well as it fell to Zabaletta who was also the stand in captain just outside the box. The Argentine fired a half volley low and straight into the bottom corner to equalize for the Citizens.

With four minutes injury time on the board United went forward. Clichy had seized the ball but was unsure on passing to Joe Hart. Clihy lost the ball to Welbeck. Tevez then fouled Rafael who received the ball from Welbeck.

Van Persie stepped up to take the resulting free kick with just below 2 minutes left on the clock. He scored with the free kick to give United a very late lead.

City were left irritated and angered and it was evident when Tevez lashed out at Phil Johnes with a kick right in front of Alex Ferguson after the ball went out of play. Few words were then exchanged between the former United man who played under Ferguson.

The whistle blew soon enough and United had avenged their last season’s loss.

The win keeps United in front with 39 points and 6 points ahead of City.

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