van Nistelrooy (45 mins)
Barton (75 mins)
- Match reports
- 10 September 2005 00:00
- Posted by Leon Collins
City have secured a point after falling behind just before half time, with Joey Barton's deflection on 75 minutes putting the Blues level. City can be rightly proud of the fightback, and indeed other than van Nistelrooy's goal the hosts hardly looked threatening, Stuart Pearce's men showing great spirit and refusing to panic.
Sylvain Distin returned to the starting lineup, and Robbie Fowler was on the bench alongside another returnee,. Nicky Weaver.
For the hosts, Keane was on the bench with Alan Smith occupying midfield alongside Paul Scholes. Ryan Giggs was also a substitute.
The game started with a huge appeal for a penalty from United in the first minute when Rooney went down when challenged by Thatcher, but the referee waved away the appeal to the disgust of the home fans.
City's first corner came in the fourth minute when Ferdinand headed away a Musampa free kick, but from the corner Andy Cole was booked for handling in front of former team-mate van der Sar.
In the tenth minute United had their first real chance, with Rooney side-footing it to Park, who's well hit shot from the right side of the area with his right foot was always curling away beyond the far post. At this stage, United were passing neatly in midfield, but City's defence, with Musampa tracking back to help negate Fletcher and Park, was coping calmly.
Also worth noting that Andrew Cole was not, quite rightly, getting any grief ftom the home fans.
With 21 minutes gone, a deep cross from Heinze was headed back to Scholes from O'Shea, but the captain's shot on the turn near the penalty spot was well wide and did not trouble James.
City looked for a flag in the 29th minute, when a Park flick on found van Nistelrooy, and with most in the ground assuming the flag would come he lobbed the ball over when completely unmarked eight yards out.
A minute later Mills went on a barnstorming run down the right, but he could not make the telling cross and United cleared.
But just when it looked like the game would go into half time scoreless, United scored in controversial circumstances.
A Scholes free kick was deflected, with James making a superb save. However, the ball fell into van Nistelrooy's path and with City convinced he was offside due to the deflection the Dutchman slotted the ball home. Reyna's protestations earned him a booking.
Half time United 1-0 City
City began looking to get back on terms after keeping the hosts at bay with such ease for the entire first half.
Danger came in the second minute, with Scholes receiving in the area, but the ball was trapped between his feet and was unable to get a shot away.
The Blues had a half chance eleven minutes in, when a Reyna cross deflected towards Cole, but falling away he could only head wide.
Mills received a yellow card for bringing Rooney down on 58 minutes, but the England striker could not make the free kick count, James punching clear with ease.
On 64 minutes there was more danger for City, when a Park cross from a Rooney flick on flew across the area, but Trevor Sinclair was back to clear. The resulting corner was again punched away by James.
Sun and Sibierski came on on 73 minutes for Mills and Musampa, just after Rooney had conceded a throw in followed by some trademark histrionics in response to some helpful advice from the City fans just over his shoulder.
But on 75 minutes Joey Barton levelled the scores! Darius Vassell swept the ball goalwards after receiving from Cole, and Baron deflected it past van der Sar to send the 2,000 City fans into ecstasy. United's response was to replace Fletcher with Keane.
Giggs was thrown on on 81 minutes for Park, and two minutes later local favourite Robbie Fowler came on for Darius Vassell.
Shortly after a short Silvestre back-header nearly put Cole in, but Van der Sar raced out to collect.
Alan Smith was replaced by Kieron Richardson with four minutes to go.
With two minutes left Giggs nearly put the hosts ahead, when a deft Rooney flick on was met by the Welshman's head, but thankfully for City the ball curled just around the post.
In stoppage time Richardson wasted a corner, hitting the side netting much to the home fans disgust.
And in the dying seconds Cole nearly made the perfect ending, volleying a Sinclair cross but Van der Sar tipped over, a superb save.
There was no more time after that and City were rightly delighted with the point, and but for a world class piece of goalkeeping they would have left Old Trafford as victors for the first time since 1974.
United 1-1 City