City win Manchester Derby to take initiative in title chase
It was a match dubbed “the biggest in Premier League history” by pundits and fans alike.
Anything but a City win would give United a massive boost in the race for the title, so the pressure was on Mancini’s side to deliver as they welcomed the reigning champions to their ground.
Manchester United started the strongest, and the first ten minutes could have changed the game had they utilised their bright start.
Claims for a penalty were correctly dismissed by referee Andre Marriner, who decided the ball had struck Vincent Kompany’s hand, without the Belgium defender being able to avoid it.
However, after the first ten minutes this balance shifted in City’s favour.
On the 22nd minute Samir Nasri put Carlos Tevez through, whose cross was cleared by Phil Jones.
Aguero’s snapshot bobbled wide and the next City shot rolled comfortably into David de Gea’s hands, but there could be no denying that the home side were becoming increasingly dominant, as United were limited to a few half chances.
On the 45th minute the grasp Mancini’s men had on the game finally yielded a goal.
Kompany rose high to head into a net left empty by De Gea, who had come half way out to deal with the corner.
United had soaked up pressure under the knowledge a point was enough to give them the edge in the final two matches, but with this point no longer secure they needed a goal of their own.
Despite this, the next 45 minutes saw United play as negatively as they had in the first.
Ji Sung Park’s inclusion hadn’t worked; he failed to provide any real impact going forward, and his defensive reliability was no longer the main concern, as he was replaced by Danny Welbeck in the 51st minute.
Paul Scholes was demonstrating all the composure that his illustrious career afforded him in important matches like this, his consistent passing looked to be the only chance United had of securing a foothold in this match.
The short spell of possession Scholes provided United bore no fruit as each attack was quickly stamped out by the City defence, and soon after Yaya Toure saw two efforts skim just wide of De Gea’s near and far post.
By the 75th minute the tension of the match spilled over to the touchline.
Following a robust challenge by Nigel de Jong on Welbeck, Sir Alex Ferguson and Mancini came to loggerheads. Each exchanged a number of angry words, whilst being restrained.
- The remainder of the game never really reached the climax it promised; with United failing to provide a real threat to City’s clean sheet, and the late United surge that Premier League teams have experienced never really materialised.
The famous “Fergie Time” found its way to the Etihad, but the additional five minutes culminated in a United corner that failed to beat the first defender.
On a day that experience could have been United’s secret weapon, Sir Alex got his tactics wrong, and his side never really turned up to the game that could have all but sealed their 20th league title.
Goal difference puts the blue side of Manchester in the driving seat, but with each side facing tough opposition for their final two games; this Premier League crown could go right to the wire.