Job 'Half' Done
Manchester city remain on course for cup success with a bitter sweet victory over close rivals Manchester United in a hard fought contest.
An epic encounter, producing controversy, fluidity, physical prowess and passion never failed to appease. The impressive comeback, led and completed from golden boy Carlos Tevez, cancelled out an early goal from Ryan Giggs.
All 95 minutes were evenly contested with the odd piece of brilliance from either side, creating an opening. Before hand, all eyes were on Carlos Tevez. The ex Manchester United forward continued to answer his critics with two goals that give City a lead heading into the second leg next Wednesday.
A hostile atmosphere amongst fierce rivals set the game up as a classic. Both teams had a Wembley final to aim for, greater motivation for us would be ½ of the revenge mission completed. 34 years without a trophy, the City faithful remained strong, enduring the nervy and the odd occasion of sheer class. Both sides hold the competition as there best chance of silverware this season, this was clearly illustrated by the strength of both squads.
A performance of true greats commenced at Eastlands, the nature of battle and prestige was no more epitomised than the performance of the industrious and destructive Nigel de Jong. Combined with the willingness and energy of Zabaleta, the awareness and composure of Kompany and the guile, craft and brilliance from Carlos Tevez, Manchester City were professional.
A difficult and laboured start from both sides was ominous. With the winners of this match only slightly more likely to enter the final it was a cagey affair. Tempers flared instantly with a foray of abrasive tackles. Neither side set a desirable tempo with possession gifted to both sides cheaply. Eastlands was roaring as the anticipation of a gladiator battle begun.
Ryan Giggs, 36 and current player of the year set the game alight with a goal early on. Slightly fortuitous, Valencia advanced with the ball and placed a dangerous cross into the city goalmouth. After a slight delay and scramble the ball fell to Giggs, 3 yards out and the goal gaping, he slotted home.
Unfazed, defiant and blood thirsty City began to assert their presence. Defensively pinned back United looked unsteady and apprehensive. Bellamy was creating confusion with repeated pressure and was finally rewarded for his perseverance with a controversial penalty. Rafael the guilty culprit was one of the few United players not to appeal to referee Mike Dean. Cue scenes of hysteria and elation. Carlos Tevez struck the penalty with precision and power into the roof of Van der Sar`s goal.
Half Time 1-1
Despite the contested affair equal at half-time, City looked resurgent and more likely to press for the second goal. The new found belief and determination from a City side proved pivotal as they clinched a momentous goal, proving to be the 1st leg winner. In form striker Carlos Tevez put the final nail in Alex Ferguson`s coffin, who failed to sign the striker last summer. The hit man was undoubtedly overjoyed with his second of the game as he headed home after persistence from Zabaleta and Kompany when United failed to deal with a Blues corner.
With time to spare, including 90 minutes at Old Trafford, the match burst into scenes of admirable attacking football. With chances equally falling to both sides it was Shaun Wright-Phillips who came closest, nearly extending the lead after another charge of brilliance from Bellamy.
For the majority of 80 minutes we were untroubled as United ran out of ideas and our defensive class prevailed. After both sides made their respective substitutions the pendulum swung into United`s favour. With the odd chance of an attacking break, City were persistently clearing danger from their goalmouth. Shay Given made numerous pleasant saves. On the odd occasion Given was beaten, his defence was on hand to prevent any danger.
Despite countless efforts and serious pressure City remained strong and jubilation rung around Eastland`s with a derby victory key to our cup surge.
The match lived up too the thoroughbred classic it was tipped to be. Both sides will feel the game is there too be won, but in our case its job "half" done.
"Fergie sign him up, Fergie Fergie sign him up".
Full Time 2-1
'Mr T' Richards-7
De Jong- 10