Blues Desperately Unlucky
Manchester City fail to make the League Cup final after heart-breaking scenes witnessed at Old Trafford. Second half goals from midfielders Scholes and Carrick looked to send United to the Wembley final. Carlos Tevez, a persistent nemesis, levelled the tie for the blues. However, another stoppage time goal, this time from Wayne Rooney heaped misery on the travelling fans and ensured Manchester United face Aston Villa in the League Cup Final.
A momentous occasion predicted as the greatest Manchester Derby for decades, produced a phenomenal encounter which allowed both sides a dream of the Wembley Final. After the unfortunate League fixture at Old Trafford and the 34 year wait for a trophy, Manchester City sensed their time had come to avenge previous failures. The slight 2-1 advantage City took to Old Trafford proved insufficient as our wait for a trophy continues.
A pulsating fixture with an unbelievably high tempo again produced several controversial moments. The usual fiery encounter continued, with several passages of misconduct. Both Rooney and Ferdinand were fortunate to escape punishment as their flailing arms caught the Argentine duo of Tevez and Zabaleta. Greater misconduct followed from the home fans as bottles and coins alike were hurled in the direction of City talisman Bellamy. Howard Webb was left looking on nervously as the high profile match escaped his loose grip into a blood bath.
On the pitch, a tantalising, inspiring and entertaining match took place with despair waiting for one set of fans. Surprisingly City started the brighter, after taking a 2-1 advantage into the tie, the blues would have been forgiven if they took a defensive approach. Mancini`s men, however, were on the front foot immediately endearing themselves to the neutrals. Carlos Tevez was proving unplayable over the two legs with sublime close control and technical ability. The Argentine it was who looked to give City a greater advantage with whole-hearted running creating an opening where he was eventually tripped by Ferdinand. Bellamy was also creating mass confusion amongst the United back four with his typical blistering pace and uncontrollable runs.
The home side looked on with great anxiety as they failed to control the tie. Giggs had their only legitimate chance with his left foot shot bringing a routine save from the excellent Given. Again, City looked to press, their undeniably dashing pace excelled and they were incredibly unfortunate not to lead at half time.
The match was evenly poised at half time with City providing the desirable tempo and slick passing needed. Micah Richards, a persistent thorn in United`s side looked to open the scoring with a superbly struck left foot shot destined for the top corner, Van der Sar scrambled across and tipped it wide. A persistent danger going forward and defensively superior City looked to be the favourites to win the battle.
Suddenly the impetus swung dramatically. After several objects were thrown from the crowd striking Bellamy, a poor City corner led to a breakaway from the home side. The defence became unstuck and after several opportunities to clear Scholes popped up and netted. The goal sparked a dominant passage of play from United as they decided to attack a youthful back four who had previously looked unbeatable. Again City were looking bemused and shell-shocked as Michael Carrick placed his shot into Shay Given`s bottom corner. Old Trafford roared as they headed to Wembley. Glum faces amongst the City faithful looked on as the tie slipped from their grasp.
Despite this, the forward line of Manchester city persisted and persevered with chances falling to both sides. Disappointment and despair was suddenly converted to elation and hysteria as Carlos Tevez levelled the tie. A remarkable flick from Tevez ended United`s dominance and City looked back on track.
The pendulum had again swung over the 180 minutes and it was the blues looking to press and relieve themselves from the tension of extra time. Chasing every ball like gladiators we were unfortunate to grab a late equaliser, winning the tie on aggregate. As injury time was reached the sense of holding on for extra time looked to enter the youthful minds of Mancini`s players. The mentality of Alex Ferguson`s players had switched as they became aware of their neighbours anxiety. With the horrific memory of a Stretford End stoppage time goal previously we hoped lightning wouldn`t strike twice. Nevertheless, after previously being warned from Fletcher, producing an outstanding save from Given it was United who won the tie with a Wayne Rooney header. The red half was met with joyous scenes as they had knocked their "noisy neighbour" out of the cup. Anguish, desperation and a hint of unjust entered the minds of every Blue shirt involved.
This was an extremely harsh ending which was difficult to swallow after an enthralling two legged cup tie. The undeniable degree of ability from a youthful and newly-built side is slight consolation from what was a near perfect.
"34 years….. and we`re still here'