Match Report

Manchester United 2 : 0 Manchester City

United: Van der Sar, Evra, Da Silva, Vidic, Evans (O'Shea 70), Park (Scholes 58), Fletcher, Giggs, Ronaldo (Rooney 58), Tevez, Berbatov.

Unused subs: Kuszczak, Neville, Carrick, Nani.

City: Given, Richards, Dunne (c), Onuoha, Bridge, De Jong (Petrov 73), Kompany, Ireland, Elano, Robinho (Evans 89), Caicedo (Bojinov 63).

Unused subs: Hart, Berti, Fernandes, Zabaleta..

Goals: 1-0 (Ronaldo 18), 2-0 (Tevez 45).


United: Fletcher (47).

City: Ireland (33).

Referee: C Foy

The City contingent in the corner were in fine voice, giving it their all to combat the music fed out over the PA in the minutes leading up to kick off. A look over to the VIP area next to the press box revealed former Blues boss Stuart Pearce, no doubt here to cast his beady eye over Nedum Onuoha and Micah Richards ahead of this summer's Under 21 European Championships.

First chance of the day fell to United after just two minutes, Park receiving the ball just inside the area after a rebound off De Jong, but the South Korean's low shot was drilled wide - his reaction showed that he should have done a lot better. Carlos Tevez made Shay Given work a couple of minutes later, but the City stopper had the Argentinean's shot well covered.

Neat interplay between our Brazilians in the sixth minute led to a chance for Elano, but he fluffed his lines by pulling his shot well wide. The open start continued seconds later when Ronaldo pumped a long-range effort straight at Given.

A burst through the middle into United's half by Nedum Onuoha ended with the defender forcing Vidic to concede  a corner on 10 minutes. Elano and Robinho took it short to each other, but Elano's resulting shot from the corner of the box was charged down.

A robust Richard Dunne challenge on Berbatov saw Chris Foy give United a free kick from near the centre circle that the skipper protested against to no avail. Ronaldo chanced his arm - and justice was done when Ireland and De Jong charged it down.  The Bulgarian was brought down by Ireland a minute later, and at this free kick the luck went United's way when Cristiano Ronaldo crashed the ball in off De Jong and into the net, despite the best efforts of Shay Given. The keeper had been wrong footed and had just readjusted to go the right way to get a hand to the ball, but it was not enough and the Blues were behind.

City had the better of the next 10 minutes without truly threatening Edwin van der Sar, our best moment coming on 28 when Caicedo laid off to Robinho, who moved inside to get into a shooting position before rolling his shot a yard wide of the United keeper's right hand post.

But after this quiet spell, the hosts were inches away from doubling the lead when Carlos Tevez smashed a shot from the corner of the box past Given and onto the post. City's keeper was beaten, but the ball rebounded onto Wayne Bridge and the danger passed.

It all went a bit quiet for a while until there was mild controversy on 40 minutes. Kompany went to the floor in City's area, and the game was stopped, with the Belgian protesting about foul play from Berbatov. Chris Foy calmed tempers down, but the home fans were unhappy that the referee told City to give the ball back to United.

The lull ended just before the end of the first 45 minutes when United extended their lead. Berbatov laid the ball off to Carlos Tevez, who moved into a central position outside the box to bend an unstoppable shot around Given, off the post and into the net.

Darren Fletcher went into the book just after restart for fouling Ireland, but City could not make any inroads at the free kick. United were straight onto the offensive, with Da Silva putting the ball onto the roof of the net, but within seconds City were rueing a missed chance of their own. Robinho broke into the box and looked to have a golden opportunity to score, but he skewed his shot well wide after coming under pressure at the last second from Da Silva.

City kept possession around United's box around 55 minutes, the move ending when Richards' low cross was cut out by van der Sar. There was a lengthy delay while Caicedo received treatment, and the hosts used this as the opportunity to bring on Rooney and Scholes for Ronaldo and Park. Valeri Bojinov replaced the Ecuadorian four minutes later.

Another rash of substitutions were the only moments of note until Tevez looked dangerous again with 17 minutes left, the Argentinean sending a shot from the edge of the area wide of Given's left hand post.

As time began to run out for City it was United who went on the attack, with Giggs whipping in a cross from the left that eluded Given as Berbatov loomed. Within seconds Giggs was testing City's keeper again, this time with a curling effort from an angle that had to be parried away. There was simply no way through for City when they did have half a chance, Robinho's shot with five minutes to go being charged down. But our best chance of the game came seconds later when Martin Petrov bent a shot towards the top corner, only to see Edwin van der Sar tip it wide with a superb one-handed save.

Paul Scholes looked to have eluded the defence with 90 seconds of normal time left, but Bridge got back to deny him with a well-timed tackle. From the corner, Fletcher's header flashed across the goal and struck the post and Da Silva was unable to get to the rebound.

Ched Evans replaced Robinho in stoppage time, but there was to be no late comeback. United had the win they were after in their bid for the title, and the weekend's results put City at the back of the pack in the chase for the seventh-place spot that would bring European qualification.

Tim Oscroft

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