Man Utd 4
Rooney (2), Fletcher x 2 (49, 80), Owen (90 +6)
Barry (16), Bellamy x 2 (52, 90)
- Matchday centre
- Match reports
- 20 September 2009 16:10
- Posted by Tim Oscroft
City’s unbeaten start to the season came to an end in the most dramatic Manchester derby for many years.
City's 3,000 fans thought they were going home with a point in the bag after the Blues had fought back from behind three times, but Michael Owen bagged the winner in the sixth minute of stoppage time. United had taken the lead in the second minute of the game, but City’s heads did not drop, with Gareth Barry and then Craig Bellamy, twice, dragging them back. Carlos Tevez made his mark on his old stamping ground, setting up the first and hitting the post just before half-time.
United dominated after the break, taking the lead early on only to see a stunning goal from Craig Bellamy draw the scores level. Three superb saves from Shay Given in quick succession kept City in it with around 20 minutes to go, before the finale that shattered the Blues.
Mark Hughes made one change from the side that started against Arsenal, with Emmanuel Adebayor’s suspension allowing Carlos Tevez a start against his former side. The announcement of the striker’s name before the game raised the noise to unprecedented levels, and the little Argentinean was in the thick of it inside the first minute, chasing down a long ball and half-charging down Foster’s clearance, his first meaningful touch only increasing the cacophony from his former supporters.
And unfortunately the home fans were cheering a goal just one minute and 52 seconds into the match. The Blues were caught napping at a throw-in level with the front of the penalty area, Evra slipping it quickly to Wayne Rooney, who steadied himself before sliding the ball home to give City the worst possible start.
The Blues looked shell-shocked – understandably – and for the next few minutes United were everywhere, hassling City into giving the ball away on several occasions. Only a run from SWP on the left, with the final ball eluding Tevez, gave hope – until an equaliser from nowhere on 16 minutes!
A hit-and-hope ball from the back was chased down by Tevez, Foster dithered on the edge of the box and gave it back to Tevez. With the keeper stranded Carlos found Gareth Barry, who calmly rolled it home into the bottom corner with the defence frantically trying to cover for Foster.
It was the perfect riposte from City and for Tevez in particular, who had served notice to Foster that he would chase everything from the first minute. A lively afternoon for the striker continued when he was the first into Martin Atkinson’s book on 25 minutes after taking down Rio Ferdinand.
It became a niggly affair as the half wore on, with Anderson seeing yellow for catching de Jong, then Vidic also getting booked for pulling down SWP in a pincer movement with Fletcher. And \City went so close to making amends for the poor start when Tevez hit the post just before stoppage time. Kolo Toure robbed Rooney on halfway and rampaged forward, sliding the ball to Tevez who lifted the ball over the advancing Foster only to see it strike the upright. Nevertheless a half that started abysmally finished with City’s 3,000 followers out singing the 70,000+ home fans.
Sadly, we were not long into the second half when United retook the lead. Evra found Giggs, who crossed from the left towards the charging-in Darren Fletcher, who got in front of Barry to head the ball just between Given’s left hand and the post. Could City bounce back again?
As with the first half, United’s goal spurred them on, and just a couple of minutes after Fletcher’s header Rooney laid it off to Giggs inside the area, but the Welshman’s stabbed shot forced Given to save with his feet.
But, just like earlier on, City’s heads did not drop and this time the equaliser was a lot quicker in coming. Just three minutes after United had taken the lead, Craig Bellamy picked the ball up on the left, cut in to the corner of the box and unleashed an unstoppable shot that flew high into the far corner of the net!
Craig had been many people’s man of the match last week, and this coupled with typically tenacious chasing back, was putting him in the frame at Old Trafford. Eight minutes after his goal he blotted his copybook a touch, receiving a yellow card after catching Anderson from behind.
United had the best of the next few minutes, and on 66 they were denied by Shay Given. Berbatov got in a header from a corner, but City’s keeper had stood his ground and parried the ball away. Even better followed shortly afterwards, Giggs’s cross being met by the Bulgarian who must have been celebrating a goal in his head – only to see Given fly across to his left to pull off a magnificent save.
The third great stop from the Irishman followed within a minute, Giggs letting fly with a first-time volley from the edge of the box that City’s keeper palmed over his bar.
Berbatov did little to endear himself to the home faithful just afterwards, getting nowhere near the target with a header from a Giggs cross. Within a few minutes he was off, and replaced by Michael Owen.
United’s pressure had been relentless throughout the second half, and with 10 minutes to go they took the lead for the third time. Giggs swung the ball over from the left at a free kick and Darren Fletcher steamed in to power the ball beyond Given with his head having nipped in behind Kolo Toure.
Mark Hughes’ responded to the need to go on the attack by throwing on Martin Petrov for Nigel de Jong, often the makeweight in such situations. The home side had most of the possession until 88 minutes, when SWP forced a corner with a shot that he tried to squeeze in at the near post. From Barry’s corner, Petrov rifled in a cross-cum-shot that had Micah Richards got the slightest touch on would have gone for the equaliser.
But we did not have to wait too long for that to happen, as City drew level for the third time right on 90 minutes! Rio Ferdinand gave the ball straight to Petrov, who slipped it to Craig Bellamy. The striker still had a half of the field ahead of him, but he tore down the left flank almost to the by-line before rolling it home from the tightest of angles. The City fans went wild and we thought we were all set for a well-deserved point – but it was not to be.
Four minutes of stoppage time were announced as the teams regrouped for the kick off, but we went well beyond that when United took the lead for the fourth and final time. Giggs passed diagonally to Michael Owen, in space on the left of the box, who put the ball back across Given and into the net despite a last-ditch lunge from Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Several Blues sank to the ground in despair at the unbelievable climax to an amazing game, and by the time the final whistle finally blew we had had nearly seven minutes of injury time. But City could hold their heads up high after fighting back despite being on the back foot for most of the game, only to see a point snatched away in the cruellest of circumstances.