1-0 (Sinclair 32), 2-0 (Vassell 39), 3-1 (Fowler 93)
2-1 (van Nistelrooy 76)
- Match reports
- Sat 14 Jan 2006, 12:00AM
- Posted by Leon Collins
An utterly enthralling Manchester derby saw City run out as deserving winners. The Blues were two goals up before the break, and were in control even more after Ronaldo was dismissed for a straight red card on 65 minutes. But United set the pulses racing when van Nistelrooy got one back with 15 minutes left, setting up a nervous closing period.
Robbie Fowler sealed the win deep into stoppage time after coming on as a substitute, and City sent their fans home in a state of euphoria.
Albert Riera made his first team debut for City, with Jihai Sun moving to right-back, replacing Nedum Onuoha. Kiki Musampa was on the bench, and Robbie Fowler was also named as a substitute.
For United, Patrice Evra made his debut at left back.
The teams emerged to a cacophony of noise from the capacity crowd inside the stadium on a bright and sunny day.
New boy Riera endeared himself to the Blues' faithful after three minutes when he barged Ronaldo off the ball legally to win his first challenge. Otherwise, it was a predictably cagey opening spell from both sides.
Andy Cole had the game's first shot after seven minutes, when following good work from Riera the striker span around to shoot with his right, but van der Sar was down to block with some ease.
United's first chance came two minutes later, Rooney crossing from the right towards van Nistelrooy, but Dunne was right on the spot lift to the ball to safety.
Rooney bore down on James after 15 but City's keeper booted the ball out towards the half-way line, and a few seconds later the United debutant, Evra, shot from 35 yards but the ball rolled harmlessly wide of the posts.
Ronaldo tried some typical show-pony trickery after 18 minutes but found Dunne instead of one of his own men, and to compound his error Ireland showed how it should be done to clear a moment later.
But one minute after that United went very close to scoring; Rooney headed a Giggs cross across goal, and van Nistelrooy was only inches away from connecting inside the six yard box.
The game had really begun to flow now, and on 21 minutes Stephen Jordan gave the ball away to Rooney, but seconds later made amends to head the ball clear from the England striker, who was lectured by the referee for looking for a penalty.
Cole received a talking-to for a challenge on United's keeper, as did van Nistelrooy for hauling down Dunne after 25 minutes.
But on 32 minutes City took the lead through Trevor Sinclair! A Barton cross was knocked back to Ireland, who's pass through the defence was hooked in first-time by Sinclair from about eight yards out.
Four minutes later it was James to the rescue for City, the keeper superbly blocking with his legs after Rooney had broken into the area.
And on 39 there was even more delight as Darius Vassell doubled the lead! Sinclair nodded on a James kick to Cole, who flicked the ball forward. Silvestre lost his bearings, and the lurking Vassell rolled the ball into the corner of the net to a rapturous reception.
And Cole was denied by van der Sar on 44, shooting from 25 yards out only to see the Dutchman fingertip the ball over.
Rooney received a yellow card deep into stoppage time for protesting to the referee too much after he felt he was fouled on the edge of the area.
Half time City 2-0 United
Evra's debut was curtailed at half time, Alan Smith replacing him as Ferguson looked to add some bite into midfield.
Ronaldo had the first shot of the second period, but his tame left-footed effort was easily taken by James on the floor.
On 51 minutes Sinclair got into the box, but from a great position his cross rolled across the area in front of his strikers to safety.
Jihai Sun earned a deserved ovation on 55 minutes for shepherding the ball out under enormous pressure from Ronaldo, typical of the defensive efforts that the Blues were now having to make.
The crowd were baying for a card on 59 minutes when Rooney went in hard on Distin after being dispossessed by Dunne, but referee Bennett only calmed him down with a short talk. The striker then rifled in a shot a minute later, but James watched it past his right-hand post.
Vassell flicked the ball with the back of his heel to deceive the ever-popular Gary Neville after 62 minutes, and for a moment it looked like he might set something up, but the United defence cleared after intercepting his pass to Ireland.
And the afternoon got even better for City on 65 minutes when Ronaldo was sent off! The winger was angered by a challenge from Jordan, and seconds later went in with studs raised on Cole. Steve Bennett called him over and waved the red card to the delight of all City fans inside the ground.
Dunne was replaced by Onuoha after receiving some hefty treatment, and Saha replaced Fletcher. The replacement made James work three minutes after coming on, but his left-footed shot bounced up nicely and the keeper wrapped himself around it.
But on 76 minutes Ruud van Nistelrooy gave United hope, shooting home from inside the box with his right after collecting a chipped cross from Giggs. City fans were now on tenterhooks despite the man advantage, and in the aftermath many missed the fact that David James had been booked for kicking the ball into the stands.
Fowler and Musampa replaced Cole & Riera, and Fowler was straight into the action but was tackled well by O'Shea in the area. Ireland went on a great little run on 80, and should have found Fowler in the box but United intercepted.
Sinclair took a blow to the head, but in an echo of Stephen Jordan two years ago at Old Trafford he returned to the fray sporting a bandage right around his head.
Richardson replaced O'Shea after 85 as United sought the equalizer.
Vassell could have tied things up on 87 by looking up and passing to Sinclair, screaming for the ball in yards of space. The England striker chose to shoot, but the ball went nearer the corner flag than the goal. City fans were not happy, and were now hoping this would not count against them at the end of play.
Four minutes were flashed up as being added on, to the consternation of the Blue faithful.
Fowler set up Sinclair on 90, but his stabbed shot was well saved by van der Sar. Seconds later Musampa went close with a powerful header.
And Robbie Fowler tied the game up on 93 minutes! Vassell found him inside the box, and the England striker fired home with his left foot, van der Sar left with no chance.
The game finished straight afterwards to an explosion of noise.