Red prevail over Blue in tense Manchester Derby




“Sometimes you have a noisy neighbor. All you can do is switch on the TV, increase the volume and move on with life,” said Alex Ferguson after Michael Owen’s dramatic injury time winner gave United a 4-3 victory over City a couple of years ago. But today, the neighbors were not only noisy, but also dangerous as seen by Rio Ferdinand’s bloodied face after a coin was thrown at him from the stands and a man from the crowd invaded onto the pitch.

Red prevail over Blue in tense Manchester Derby

Red prevail over Blue in tense Manchester Derby

It was not only about the crowd today though, as the top two teams from England produced an absolutely gripping display of football over a period of 90 minutes. Five goals, seven yellow cards and an intense match that was decided only in the dying seconds: A perfect weekend derby match, one could call it.

Both teams made surprising changes to their lineups with Mancini deploying Balotelli in attack ahead of the more tried and trusted Tevez while Ferguson fielded both Cleverley and Valencia who were doubtful starters. It was vengeance time for United after suffering a league double defeat at the hands of their traditional rivals last season but it was City who started the first half strongly as they passed around and kept 80% of the possession in the opening ten minutes. There were chances too with Balotelli coming close twice:  first with a long range freekick and the second in which he slashed a volley into the stands after brilliant play by Clichy on the left flank.

It wasn’t until 16 minutes that the Red Devils got their first chance, and when they did they took it with both hands as they opened the scoring with a classical counterattacking maneouvre. Ashley Young headed Patrice Evra’s ball to Van Persie who returned it back to the winger with his chest pass. Young then ran through City’s defence before passing it to Rooney, who took a touch to steady himself and scuffed it past a wrong footed Joe Hart. It wasn’t the cleanest of strikes but it was a goal nevertheless and United led 1-0.

City suffered another dent in their plan as their skipper and the scorer of last season’s winner, Vincent Kompany, had to limp off with an injury. United were now looking the more dangerous team and Hart had to rush off his line to clear Van Persie’s through ball before Young got there. But the second goal would come soon enough! Valencia picked out Rafael on the right flank, who in turn pulled back a cross for an unmarked Rooney to put the ball in the back of the net for the second time in the day and with a two goal lead at the half time interval, United looked sure to have put City’s unbeaten streak this season to an end.

Mancini replaced an unhappy Balotelli with Tevez early in the second half as City looked to reduce the deficit while Ferguson was forced to bring in Smalling for an injured Evans. City started building up steam as Aguero came close with a dipping shot and Ferdinand needed to pull in a dive to keep out Nasri’s cross. But the entire momentum of the game changed around at the hour mark with two incidents that went City’s way! Robin Van Persie unfurled a beautiful right foot shot against the post before Young followed it up but was erroneously called off-side. A minute later City pulled one back!

De Gea did well to pull off a double save but Tevez kept his calm and pulled the ball back for Yaya Toure who slotted the ball into the back of the net. City now had the momentum and the major share of the possession. Evra was denied a penalty after an alleged foul by Kolo Toure as the match was becoming increasingly fast paced and was swinging from end to end. With time ticking away, Silva showed great skill in the box before unleashing a shot that struck De Gea and rebounded off the post. Mancini brought on his super-sub Dzeko for Yaya Toure and Ferguson brought on Phil Jones for Valencia as United had to hold on for only four more minutes.

However it has become a Manchester tradition of scoring late in games! A Carlos Tevez corner was blocked out by Van Persie and it fell to Zabaleta who struck a fierce shot from the edge of the box into the back of the net to draw things level.

Both teams looked certain to share the spoils after an intriguing display for an hour and a half before Tevez committed an unnecessary foul on Rafael in a dangerous area.

Robin Van Persie, playing in his first Manchester derby, stepped up to take the free kick and struck it sweetly as it took a deflection and found its way into the back of the net. Manchester United had struck in injury time, and may I add, again!

It sparked chaotic scenes and Ferdinand was struck during the celebrations by a coin thrown from the stands. But more importantly, United had taken three points from this important fixture to open the gap to six points at the top of the table while City were left licking their wounds after their first home defeat in the league since almost two years.

Manchester City 2 – 3 Manchester United
(Yaya Toure, Zabaleta; Rooney-2, Van Persie)

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Monish Menon

Author:

Hi, I am Monish Menon from Hyderabad and currently working at Franklin Templeton Investments as a Compliance Business Analyst. Sport has always been my passion since I was a kid and I invest all my non-existent free time by watching, playing, writing and analyzing various sporting events across the world. Apart from being a diehard Manchester United fan and a Ferrari supporter, I believe that Roger Federer is still the best tennis player and Sachin Tendulkar is God. I play club cricket and I also am a part of my organization’s cricket and football squad. Being such a sports fanatic, writing about it is something that came naturally to me and I am glad that I got an opportunity through thesportsmirror.com to share my thoughts with the rest of the world. For other articles written by me, you can visit my blog at www.monishmenon.wordpress.com

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