Barclays Premier League
Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United

 

 

United players look around at each other as City skipper Kompany (pictured in blue) runs off to celebrate with the jubilant supporters 

 

 

By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor from the Etihad Stadium

VINCENT Kompany's header put Manchester City in the driving seat in the Premier League title race as they leapfrogged rivals Manchester United at the top of the table on goal difference.

In a truly absorbing 163rd Manchester derby - branded as the biggest ever in the history of the famous fixture - the leader of the City pack Kompany produced a powerful header in first-half stoppage time from David Silva's corner.

It proved the only goal of a full-blooded encounter, leaving the Red Devils with it all to do and relying heavily on favours elsewhere with just two Premier League games left.

United rarely offered a threat in a game which did not live upto the hype but City deserved their victory, which leaves them two wins away from a first title since 1967-68.

City manager Roberto Mancini named an unchanged side from the team that confirmed Wolves' relegation with a 2-0 victory at Molineux as former United striker Carlos Tevez, who this morning publicised his desire to stay at the club beyond the end of the season, continued his blissful partnership with fellow Argentine Sergio Aguero in attack while eccentric forward Mario Balotelli returned from suspension on the substitutes bench. Pablo Zabaleta kept his place at right-back ahead of Micah Richards.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who described this as the biggest derby with "amazing proportions" that he has ever faced during his managerial career at Old Trafford, made four changes from the side that blew a two-goal lead to draw 4-4 with Everton eight days ago which threw the title race wide open.

Jonny Evans, who was sent-off in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season, was ruled out with a bruised foot as Chris Smalling came into defence while Phil Jones was preferred at right-back to Rafael Da Silva. The Scot opted for the industry of Park Ji-Sung ahead of Antonio Valencia while Danny Welbeck dropped to the bench with Ryan Giggs coming in on the left hand side. Nani played despite a recurring ankle problem which threatened to scupper his participation.

It was a "fasten your seatbelts" sort of match with no neutrals - just red or blue. The fast and furiousness got going from the first whistle with United hemming City in their own half in the early minutes.

The visitors half-heartedly asked a question of referee Andre Marriner for a penalty against Kompany as Michael Carrick's goalbound effort struck him - which was answered with a firm nod from the official. The nerves were jangling for the home team with the first 10 minutes being tentative.

City were seeking to complete only a second league double over United in the Premier League era but the bold start from the champions suggested otherwise, with some lovely one-touch football while getting plenty of men forward in support of Wayne Rooney, who had scored 14 times in his last 16 appearances going into the contest.

For City, the return of Tevez upfront with Aguero has coincided in the reignition of their title bid which superficially was over after the 1-0 defeat at Arsenal three weeks ago.

 

? DID YOU KNOW ?

It was the first time that Manchester United had conceded a goal in a league game on a Monday night for ten matches while it was also their first defeat on the first day of the week since losing to Southampton in 1998.

 

The cagey beginning for City was soon mended as Mancini's men constructed some menacing attacks together with Silva and Aguero beginning to click to good effect with their supporters belting out the club anthem in an attempt to encourage their team.

Samir Nasri, who once scored twice against Manchester United in the league back in his Arsenal days, weaved in and out of three players before feeding pantomime villain Tevez, whose pullback into a dangerous area was cleared to safety by Jones.

The offensive-minded start from Ferguson's side soon became more defensive relying on a pressing game to close down City's starlets when they entered the final third.

City, who inflicted United's biggest ever home defeat in the Premier League during their 6-1 victory in October, felt hard done by when Marriner brandished the first yellow card to Kompany, dismissed in the FA Cup defeat by United in January, for a seemingly genuine attempt to stop the ball which Rooney made the most of in the centre circle by staying down.

Soon after, a sighting of goal fell Aguero's way, however, the Argentine ballooned high over the crossbar as Rooney's headed clearance was more up in the air than away with the wind causing havoc to the players. The midfield at this point for the first time in the game looked clustered and congested.

City started to find their way into the game although the affair became tetchy, in particular the Rooney-Kompany duel which looked increasingly liable to inflame.

The breakthrough seemed more likely to come at the United end as the home side sensed the first goal - with the tension evidently rising around the stadium.

And the goal came a minute into added time before half-time with Kompany rising highest from Silva's corner to head with plenty of power past David De Gea with Smalling, who was meant to be tracking the Belgian, ballwatching, to leave United players dejected as they trotted off into the dressing room.

After the interval, and what would have been the "hairdryer treatment" from Ferguson, United came out all guns blazing as they sought to spoil City's near-emmaculate home record, which was the Premier League's best this season, while their own away form was also the best in the division this campaign going into the match.

Yaya Toure petulantly threw the ball angrily to the ground when penalised for impeding Ryan Giggs - who was making a record 36th appearance in the Manchester derby - and got himself a caution.

Ferguson and his assistant Mike Phelan plotted changes as he looked to play all of his cards and put his fruitful substitutes bench to full use although he may have been wary that his side hadn't come from behind to win a league game this term.

City clearly had the upper hand and could have doubled the lead from another corner which De Gea showed more uncertainty with this time - Nasri couldn't bend his effort into the far corner.

Welbeck came on after 58 minutes with Park Ji-Sung, starting a league game for the first time in three months, the obvious choice to take off.

 

? DID YOU KNOW ?

Manchester City remain unbeaten in the Premier League at home since losing 2-1 to Everton on 20th December 2010- winning seventeen and drawing one at the Etihad Stadium this season.

 

The pedastal was still United's to put down with City adopting a cautious approach by taking off Tevez and replacing him with defensive midfielder Nigel De Jong midway through the second period - typically shutting up shop in order to protect the lead.

The one-goal lead was tremendously slender and made the home side nervy, with breaking on the counter attack their best form of defence.

Toure, who netted against United in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley 12 months ago, surged forward after Silva nipped the ball off Rio Ferdinand although his shot at the end of it whistled past the post.

Mancini and Ferguson's feelings were spilling over in the technical area with fourth official Mike Jones having to act as peacemaker as the two bosses exchanged strong words after De Jong was booked for a mistimed tackle on Welbeck, which the United boss was annoyed about. Frustrations looked to have kicked in on the pitch with Rooney looking more agitated by the minute.

Another lung-busting run from Toure could have killed the game off with the Ivorian going alone again after the option of Aguero was closed off by Jones and Smalling but his effort narrowly missed the target once more. Ashley Young received a chorus of boos from home fans as he made his 200th career league appearance although he failed to make an impact on a miserable night for the Red Devils.

It wasn't over by any means yet as City desperately looked to hold out although they created the better chances to score again with Aguero and Zabaleta interchanging down the right with the latter rolling the ball along the box for Clichy to stride onto and drill low and hard but De Gea was down smartly to keep him out and deny him his second Premier League goal.

United, renowned for late goals, had plenty of the ball in and around the City penalty area in the last ten minutes but couldn't penetrate and find the final ball when it mattered.

Nasri could have finished the match off in the second of five additional minutes although the Frenchman took too long as he slalomed his way past Ferdinand, allowing Jones to get a foot in much to Mancini's disbelief, who reacted furiously from the dugout.

Before long, Milner replaced him for the 400th appearance of his career although he barely had time to get a touch of the ball as the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of a tense contest - which may well have signalled the end of United's mission for title number 20 - for this season at least.

The blue moon was well and truly rising inside the Etihad Stadium as the place erupted, with City fans rejoicing to the sound of Oasis booming around the ground. It was a moment they had been waiting for and a derby that will long in the memory - for the blue half of the city perhaps.

City require victories away to Newcastle and home to Queens Park Rangers to seal their first Premier League crown while United are now hoping and praying for any slip-ups needing to capitalise in their matches at home to Swansea City and away to Sunderland.

 

ANALYSIS
Adam Higgins
The Football Site- Chief Football Editor

"We all knew how important this match was to win and how it could well be title-defining with the hype and euphoria surrounding it- a television audience of billions and almost 50,000 fans packed in the Etihad Stadium. Manchester City deserved to win the game because they went for it more, had more of the ball, more efforts at goal, more adventure and it paid off. Kompany was outstanding on the night and the winning goal in a derby couldn't have gone to a more deserved guy and with two games left, which I believe they will win, will put the title in his hands. The United players weren't good enough on the night and can have no complaints with the result which has effectively left them with just one trophy this season- a mere Community Shield. The showdown was immense, City have won the battle and they now are in pole position to win the war." 



Monday 30th April 2012

Barclays Premier League

The Etihad Stadium

Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United                  KO 8pm          (HT 1-0)

Kompany 45+1


Manchester City:  25 Hart- 7.5/10, 5 Zabaleta- 8.5/10, 6 Lescott- 8/10, 4 Kompany (C)- 9.5/10, 22 Clichy- 7.5/10, 19 Nasri- 7.5/10 (Milner 90+2- 1.5/10), 18 Barry- 7.5/10, 42 Yaya Toure- 8/10, 21 Silva- 7/10 (Richards 82- 2.5/10), 32 Tevez- 6.5/10 (De Jong 68- 3.5/10), 16 Aguero- 8/10.

Subs not used:  30 Pantilimon, 13 Kolarov, 10 Dzeko, 45 Balotelli

Booked:      Kompany (19), Yaya Toure (52), De Jong (76)

Manchester United:  1 De Gea- 7/10, 4 Jones- 7.5/10, 12 Smalling- 6.5/10, 5 Ferdinand- 7.5/10, 3 Evra (C)- 7.5/10, 13 Park- 4/10 (Welbeck 58- 4/10), 16 Carrick- 7.5/10, 22 Scholes- 8/10 (Valencia 78- 2.5/10), 17 Nani- 7/10 (Young 83- 2/10), 10 Rooney- 7/10, 11 Giggs- 8/10.

Subs not used:  40 Amos, 21 Rafael, 9 Berbatov, 14 Hernandez

Booked:      Jones (69), Carrick (78)

My Man of the Match:    Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)- Rating 9.5/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:    Park Ji-Sung (Manchester United)- Rating 4/10

 

 

Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)- 8.5/10
Attendance: 47,259

 

 

Match Facts

Possession: Manchester City- 59%                Manchester United- 41%

Shots: Manchester City- 12                     Manchester United- 4

Shots on target: Manchester City- 3                    Manchester United- 0

Shots off target: Manchester City- 0                    Manchester United- 0

Corners: Manchester City- 8                      Manchester United- 8

Fouls: Manchester City- 11                       Manchester United- 14

Offside: Manchester City- 1                        Manchester United- 0

Assists: Manchester City- 1 (Silva)                     Manchester United- None

 

 


Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini

"We wanted to win the match and instead they wanted a draw so I think the result on the balance of play was fair. We deserved to win the game as we attacked more and had better chances. We now have the chance for the title to be in our hands and win the next two matches. It's a great victory but we have two difficult games left and United have two easy games. Manchester United are still favourites though in my opinion. Swansea and Sunderland have nothing to play for so they could win those but Newcastle still have Champions League football as a possibility. I am very happy that we are top but it doesn't change anything. Football is a crazy game. We were on the top for 28 games and I think we deserve another chance to be at the top of the table. But it is not finished yet, there are still two games to play and it is not easy playing against Newcastle away from home. If we think it is finished, we will be making a big mistake."  

Click here for the full post-match interview with City boss Roberto Mancini

Click here to hear the interview with City's captain and match-winner Vincent Kompany

 

 


Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

"It was a damaging result for us, I am disappointed and the players are even more disappointed that they didn't perform as well as they can and should have tonight. They are in the driving seat and we are up against it. They only need to win two more games and they win the league. You can look back at all sorts of games to say where we have lost the league but you've got to look at the Everton one now last week. That was a ridiculous performance for the last seven minutes to lose two goals. That's maybe cost us the league. We didn't test their goalkeeper enough. We started quite brightly and for 15 minutes our possession of the ball was good, but the longer the half went on I thought we were looking for half-time. I'm very annoyed to concede from a set-piece. At this level of football you can't do that. It was a bad time to lose the goal. After that they [City] just sat and played on the counter-attack. But I can't complain about the result."

Click here for the thoughts of United boss Sir Alex Ferguson following the derby defeat


BBC pundits review the Manchester derby

 

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