Man Utd 1
- Matchday centre
- Match reports
- Sat 17 Apr 2010, 2:49PM
- Posted by Chris Bailey
City spent some of derby week on the catwalk while United spent it fending off catcalls after failing to beat Chelsea or Blackburn and crashing out of the Champions League.
In the end there was barely a whisker to separate the two sides but the cats that got the cream were dressed in Red when Paul Scholes headed the winner three minutes into injury time.
It was a familiar, cruel ending for the Blues this season against their closest rivals.
Even the volcanic activity in Iceland couldn’t keep up with some of the eruptions surrounding this 142nd meeting between the neighbours and in the end United’s title hopes emerged from the ashes. They were, even they would admit,slightly fortunate.
With the title and fourth place on the line for the two protagonists there was certainly plenty at stake and the intensity of the welcome from the stands and the breakneck pace of the opening minutes adequately reflected the passion or, if you prefer, ‘pasion’ at the heart of the fixture.
Tackles were of the no holds barred variety, there was venom and bile aplenty from the stands and even the most level headed of players found it impossible to get a foot on the ball and control the game.
Passes went astray as nerve ends were exposed in at the crucible of CoMs and chances, real clear cut chances, were few and far between
Tevez, who else, had the Blues best early effort winning and then taking a ninth minute free kick that had the tall van der Sar stretching to his full height to keep it out of the top corner.
Rooney, also unsurprisingly, had one of United’s best chances of the first half but failed to work Shay Given from 16-yards just before the interval, Giggs missed an even better opening when he toe poked an opening at the City keeper.
Much of the early morning talk was of which players might climb off the treatment table and into the smell of the cordite and for the Blues the news was all good.
Back came Wayne Bridge at left back and the bench looked stronger than of late with Patrick Vieira and Stephen Ireland offering midfield alternatives.
As for the Reds their aforementioned main man Rooney was back and Ryan Giggs’ veteran pins allowed him to start but Rio Ferdinand was missing.
For all their silverware of the past few seasons, United have struggled when they have crossed the city. Roberto Mancini’s men went into the lunchtime shoot-out having won four times in the last seven meetings.
Alex Ferguson’s protestations about Liverpool being his side’s derby match didn’t stack up for only Chelsea (five wins) have fared better against his side in the same period
Another fact to encourage the vociferous home support was the fact that at the start of this contest City had lost five league matches this season, two fewer than United for those who are statistically minded, it is 20 years since City ended the season with fewer top-flight defeats than the men from Stretford.
To be honest neither side often looked likely to add to their ‘L’ column especially in a second half that was long on effort but short on clear cut chances.
Both managers used all their substitutes in a bid to squeeze the full points out of the afternoon but for City de Jong shot tamely at his Dutch teammate van der Sar, Craig Bellamy fired wide and Gareth Barry should have shot before feeling he might have had a penalty, a six-yard box melee came to nothing and in stoppage time Bridge fired straight at the United keeper.
At the other end, Given’s bravery and star jump outfoxed Giggs as the Welshman hared in only for Scholes to commit grand larceny with the last meaningful kick of the game.