By William Wood | In Match Reports - Home Games
Manchester City were once again defeated in the final seconds by arch-rivals
Manchester United as Paul Scholes’ headed goal handed Sir Alex Ferguson’s side the three points in the dying seconds.
Both sides went into the clash requiring a win to maintain their respective aims, with the Red Devils trailing Chelsea by a point and Carlo Ancelotti’s side holding a one game advantage.
Similarly, Roberto Mancini’s men had a grip on the coveted fourth spot in the Premier League which brings with it Champions League qualification but, with Tottenham Hotspur leading a number of sides among the chasing pack, anything less than three points would have been damaging.
Leading scorer Wayne Rooney was passed fit after a late fitness check-up, whilst Micah remained sidelined due to ongoing knee problems that have ruled him out for several weeks.
The atmosphere on the pitch and in the stands was volatile, with little love lost between the two teams in their battles over the years, and Darren Fletcher’s well-struck half-volley threatened to give United the lead early on.
Carlos Tevez and City retaliated, the Argentina international curling a 25-yard free-kick into the top corner only for Edwin van der Sar to make the save.
If Rooney wasn¹t quite at his best, he still posed the biggest threat to City’s backline, and he dispossessed Vincent Kompany before the Belgian ably supporter by Kolo Toure managed to dispossess the England man.
Tit for tat exchanges were personified by endeavour with no final product, though the best chance of the half fell to Rooney with eight minutes of the first half remaining.
The former Everton striker collected Antonio Valencia¹s header and, having cut on to his left foot, he fired seemingly goal-ward with Shay Givenbeaten, only for the ball to flash wide.
The home side were rocking ever so slightly, and Ryan Giggs went close to adding to his tally of goals against the blue side from Manchester.
Valencia was once again on hand to provide the delivery, but this time Giggs’ side-footed attempt lacked the power or placement to make an impacton the score.
Half-time spelt the inevitable close analysis and the final judgement was that the game was so far failing to live up to the expectations pre-set by both sets of fans, and the lacklustre theme continued into the openingminutes of the second half.
Gareth Barry tried his best to break the deadlock as he collected Emmanuel Adebayor’s neat pass, but the midfielder¹s touch took him away from his stronger left foot and his right-footed shot failed to hit the target.
Rooney’s afternoon was brought to an end as his game slowed up, Dimitar Berbatov coming on in his place and sending a header just wide within
At the other end, van der Sar mistimed his rush after Barry’s corner and, with Patrick Vieira there to knock the ball towards the back of the net and Nedum Onuoha doing his utmost to nudge it even closer, the United defence did well to eventually clear.
City certainly had the advantage as the game approached its climax, but it was to be Ferguson’s side who grabbed the winning goal in the last few seconds to silence the home support and pile the pressure back on Chelsea as both sides hunt the Premier League title.
Patrice Evra crossed the ball in from the left and Scholes’ expertly-timed run saw him coast through the City defence and head passed Given, much to the Republic of Ireland stopper’s dismay.
The final whistle was blown seconds after the restart and City were left to mull on another missed opportunity to cement their position, as well as another disappointment at the hands of their rivals.
Man City: Given, Onuoha, Kompany, Toure, Bridge, Adam Johnson, De Jong, Barry, Bellamy, Tevez, Adebayor. Subs: Nielsen, Zabaleta, Ireland, Wright-Phillips, Santa Cruz, Vieira, Boyata.
Man Utd: Van der Sar, Neville, Vidic, Jonathan Evans, Evra, Fletcher, Scholes, Gibson, Valencia, Rooney, Giggs. Subs: Kuszczak, Berbatov, Carrick, Nani, Rafael Da Silva, O’Shea, Obertan.
Man City: None
Man Utd: Scholes (92)