Tevez (pen,41mins, 1-1, 65mins 2-1)
Man Utd 1
Giggs (16mins, 0-1)
- Matchday centre
- Match reports
- Tue 19 Jan 2010, 10:00PM
- Posted by Chris Bailey
Passion, intensity, vehemence, rapture, pick your adjective, this Manchester derby had the lot.
When the prize at stake is not just the perfunctory week- in-week out three Premier League points but a place in a domestic cup final, the various emotions shuffle into even sharper focus.
Both sides and sets of fans will now reconvene on January 27 for the second half of this epic...at least there is time to recharge the batteries before nerves and sinews are again stretched to snapping point.
City will go into the Old Trafford leg with the numerical and perhaps psychological advantage after a Carlos Tevez double inched their noses in front in the search for the winning post.
Make no mistake the second meeting has every chance to be the same kind of thunderous, thoroughbred classic full of flair and flares that this game proved to be.
United, with plenty of their big names present, took the lead in the 16th minute with a goal that owed much to Antonio Valencia’s persistence, a deflection by Wayne Rooney and the instincts of Ryan Giggs.
But City were unfazed and took the game to their neighbours with Nigel de Jong testing Edwin Van der Sar from long range and Tevez heading wide from a great position. He was much more accurate from the spot in the shadow of half time after Craig Bellamy won a penalty against Rafael that United will still be arguing about until the second leg comes along.
Much of the talk before the game surrounded Brazilian firefly Robinho.
Subbed as a substitute during a dismal performance at Everton last Saturday, but then subsequently reprieved by the warm words of his manager who refused to see what all the fuss was about, the British record signing was named on the bench.
However, there had to be changes made to the side that surrendered the manager’s unblemished record at Goodison and there might have been even more had the Italian boss not inherited a squad that has an injury list so lengthy that it could be named Holby City not Manchester City.
So in came Dedryck Boyata at the heart of the defence with Micah Richards shifted to right back and Pablo Zabaleta was given a stint in midfield.
Zaba did well enough but it was his countryman Carlos Tevez who was the fulcrum of everything good that the Blues achieved as an attacking force.
His non-stop performance set the tone and tempo for others to follow and his equalising goal was met with pure glee. In addition to levelling the scores it lifted a home crowd that was beginning to get restless.
Despite a question mark against his fitness Tevez appetite for the fray was almost insatiable and with Nigel de Jong and Gareth Barry far more effective than they were at Everton in the weekend defeat he was able to feed off more than scraps.
City were the better team in the opening exchanges of the second half when with a little more purchase and accuracy Kompany might have given them the lead with a header from Bellamy’s corner.
The second goal, when it came, was with the run of play. United thought they had cleared the ball when Zabaleta hooked it back into the box, Kompany helped it on and Tevez – who else? – pounced to force the ball home from close range for his 17th of a wonderful campaign.
Ferguson sat impassively as the 41,000 home fans chanted ‘sign him up’ at him in unison and Blues got the chance to pay further homage to their leading scorer when he was withdrawn eleven minutes from time.
Mancini showed his is no follower of convention by replacing Shaun Wright-Phillips with Brazilian defender Sylvinho. Earlier the England man had come close to making it 3-1 but was denied by Van der Sar.
Not that the Dutchman was alone in his heroics, for Given saved well from Rooney twice and Onuoha cleared off the line from late substitute Michael Owen.