By William Wood | In Match Reports - Away Games
Ten-man Manchester City were knocked out of the FA Cup at the third-round stage courtesy of a 3-2 loss at the hands of rivals Manchester United, despite an inspired effort by Roberto Mancini’s men.
In the first clash between these sides since the 6-1 league drubbing City dealt the Red Devils at Old Trafford, referee Chris Foy was to have an instrumental role as Sir Alex Ferguson’s knocked the current FA Cup holders out of the competition.
City were at their relative barebones due to the loss of Kolo and Yaya Toure to the African Cup of Nations, plus injuries to Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli, though it was they that started the brightest of the two sides.
Early forays posed Rio Ferdinand and co problems that ensured they had to be on full alert from the off, though the opening game came at the other end as United seized the lead in their first noticeable attack.
Antonio Valencia raced down the right and his cross was glanced home by man of the moment Wayne Rooney to make it 1-0, and things were to get even worse for the hosts as captain Vincent Kompany was shown a straight red card.
The Belgian defender slid in to make the challenge on Nani and Foy adjudged that it was two footed, despite Kompany winning the ball cleanly, and City were down to 10-men with just 11 minutes on the clock.
The home side were clearly shell-shocked but Sergio Aguero rolled up his sleeves and went close to an equaliser immediately, curling a 25-yard effort towards the far corner only for Anders Lindergaard to make a fine save.
United weren’t, though, about to take their foot off the pedal, and with gaps emerging in City’s defence due to the numerical disadvantage, Danny Welbeck connected with a stray ball in the box to volley beyond Pantimillion and make it 2-0.
City were on the ropes and looking increasingly cagey, and United, smelling blood, grabbed a third. Kolarov appeared to bring Wellbeck down in the penalty area and Rooney, having seen his initial spot-kick saved, reacted quickest to head home to hand his side a 3-0 advantage going into the break.
Mancini switched things around at the interval, bringing off Adam Johnson and David Silva for Pablo Zabaleta and Stefan Savic and going three at the back, and his side got off to a flyer as they pulled themselves back into the game.
A storming run by Micah was eventually curtailed by Rio Ferdinand, and Kolarov made amends for his earlier mistake by curling an exquisite free-kick home to make it 3-1 two minutes into the second-half.
The shock news before kick-off was the return of Paul Scholes, who retired during the summer, but it was a from stray pass by the 37-year old that allowed City to grab a second. Milner collected the loose ball and found Aguero, whose initial effort was parried by Lindergaard, allowing the Argentina international to nudge home to signal a nervous final third for the game for the visitors.
There was an opportunity for one of Scholes’ renowned pile-drivers which was comfortably collected by Pantimillion, as the contrasting instructions from the touchline summed up the feeling in the second-half – Mancini heckling his players to push on whilst Ferguson called for calm.
A ball in to the box by Kolarov appeared to strike Phil Jones’ arm, though it would have been a harsh decision against the otherwise impressive United man, whilst Ferguson’s side had an appeal of their turned down as Valencia was brought down.
In the dying seconds, another Kolarov free-kick was initially saved by Lindegaard only for the loose ball just to evade the mass of City players in the box, and the latest enthralling instalment between these two sides was drawn to a close.
United progress to the next round, whilst City relinquish the trophy and will surely turn their attentions to ensuring they maintain their advantage over United in the Premier League.
Manchester City starting: Patilimon, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Milner, De Jong, Johnson, Silva, Nasri, Aguero.
Manchester United starting: Lindegaard, Evra, Jones, Ferdinand, Smalling, Valencia, Carrick, Nani, Giggs, Welbeck, Rooney.