Manchester United were on the wrong end of a 1-2 score line when they hosted second placed Manchester City on Monday night at Old Trafford. It was United’s 2nd defeat at Old Trafford this season, the first being to Tottenham Hotspur in September.
The Red Devils, being 15 points adrift of their noisy neighbours, had only pride to play for as they looked to do a double this season over the reigning champions, having defeated them already at the Etihad Stadium earlier in the season. The blues, however, aimed to win the match in order to restore a little respect back to their name, seeing how disappointing their season has been. 😛
The Reds had a rather depleted back line with Vidic, Smalling and Evans, all missing out with injuries. The fifth different pair, and the first time, this season of centre halves this season was Ferdinand and Jones. Rafael and Evra were back in the lineup to complete the back four. The midfield had the experienced Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs and the young and fast Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young on the wings. United’s strongest striking pair, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, were back together to complete the lineup. Ofcourse, David De Gea between the posts was inevitable. 🙂
The match started on a high note as both the teams were quick on the ball and created some half opportunities within the first 10 minutes. The visitors were the ones to grab the opportunity first and had a decent spell of possession with some opportunities to take the lead. The first came from a fierce James Milner cross which De Gea palmed away confidently. City got closer a few minutes later, when Kompany’s long pass found David Silva in the box who selflessly back heeled it into oncoming Tevez’s path. Fortunately, Jones, who has had a terrific season so far, was up for the task and knicked the ball away from Tevez just in time.
Outright chances were few and far between with both goalkeepers having not much to do for most of the first half. United, slow and steady as they are, started to assert their dominance in the game towards the end of the first half by first letting Manchester City commit themselves fully in attacks and then launching swift counter attacks and hoping to catch them off guard. Nonetheless, United failed to conjure up any threat except for Rafael having a tamed shot kissing the cross bar on its way out which meant both teams headed into the tunnel level on score.
United started the half rather strongly but that did not last long as City were the first to draw blood at 51 minutes when James Milner struck low to beat De Gea. It was Giggs who made a rare error when he tried to back heel the ball but instead ended up losing possession in a threatening area. City were quick to capitalize on the chance and James Milner managed to strike between diving Carrick and Jones. De Gea got his fingers to it but could not manage to keep the ball from falling into the net.
United needed just this to wake them out of their lethargic display. As so many times before in this season, United fell behind and that is when they get into top gear and start making things work. It took just 8 minutes for United to bring things back on level terms. 🙂
Rafael was fouled by Yaya Toure near the corner and van Persie stepped up to take the free kick. Contrary to what most of the viewers had in their mind, van Persie whipped in a strong, fast ball at the far corner where Jones was waiting to head the ball home. As luck would have it, the ball bounced off Kompany last as it went over the line. Nothing was gonna stop Phil Jones to celebrate what he thought was his equalizer, which would eventually be marked down as Kompany’s goal.
Old Trafford was brought to life again as United looked more dangerous everytime they went ahead but were missing the final spark to add to their lead. City knew better to sit back and play out a draw (afterall, they needed to play for their pride as there is nothing else left to play for this season! :D) and they brought in the man who win them the Premier League last season. Sergio Aguero had an instant impact on the game with his sudden bursts of pace piercing the United defence which eased the pressure on his team’s back four (or three, whatever they play).
Probably the most hated City player by United fans, Sergio Aguero gave the red half of Manchester all the more reason to hate him when he practically flew past four red shirts and struck home City’s second on 78 minutes. As much as i hate to say this, it was indeed a peach of a goal, worthy of winning any match. The sheer pace and fineness of his shot left many wondering why United’s squad does not have such players anymore, leave the players required to stop such strikers.
United being the comeback kings went on the front foot again, but this was not gonna be one of those nights. Ofcourse, it WAS gonna be one of those nights where the tempers boiled over and the players got ‘carried away’. 🙂
David Silva conveniently went to the ground holding his hamstring after he cheaply lost the ball. City players cried for United to kick the ball out but surely United were under no such obligation as they carried on. When the ball, eventually, did go out, the fireworks started with Gareth Barry being the first to spring into action. Sergio Aguero too, couldnt stop pushing every red shirt that came in his sight! Rio Ferdinand, surprisingly, kept a cool head and calmed things down before Barry was shown a yellow for his emotional outburst. Referee Mike Dean knew better than to get involved with the hotheads as he chose to step aside and let the players sort it out themselves! 😀
What followed for the remaining time was a string of yellow cards to a number of players from both teams as United tried to equalize. Nothing worked for United as the final whistle blew with City winning the match.
Sir Alex Ferguson looked less than pleased, to say the least, seeing his side go down at home to their bitter rivals. United’s lead was cut down to 12 points with 7 games remaining in what was probably the most insignificant Manchester Derby in the history. 🙂
United have failed to score in the last 3 games (barring the own goals, ofcourse) and this surely comes as a wake up call for the Red Devils if they are to prevent a repeat of last season. But as we all know, Sir Alex does not make the same mistake twice. 🙂
Glory Glory Man Utd!! 😀 😀