By William Wood | In Match Reports - Away Games
Manchester City’s hopes of ending their wait for silverware were ended in the most heartbreaking of fashions as arch-rivals Manchester United secured a 3-1 win at Old Trafford in the Carling Cup semi-final second leg, handing them a 4-3 aggregate win and sealing their progression to Wembley.
The travelling City support will trudge back to Eastlands questioning what may have been, but once Sir Alex Ferguson’s men marched to a 2-0 lead it was a tough ask for the blue side of Manchester.
It was always going to be a charged affair given the lead-up, most notably the ongoing tension between Carlos Tevez and Gary Neville, the supposed shift in power between the two clubs and the controversies of the first-leg.
And so it followed that the game’s start was a frenetic one, the hosts winning a series of early corners but failing to capitalise on the opportunity to test out the relatively makeshift backline.
Wayne Rooney – himself going head-to-head with Tevez in the on-form striker competition – collected a Ryan Giggs pass and fired on goal but Given was on hand to collect the ball, whilst Nani centred a dangerous cross which was superbly cut out.
The returning Rio Ferdinand had a fine opportunity to break the deadlock as he found himself unmarked at the back post but his flick went wide, and the England man was at the heart of the action moments later as he appeared to catch Tevez in the face as tempers neared boiling point.
When play resumed Craig Bellamy had a header well caught by Edwin Van der Sar, while Tevez used his pace to break through the Red Devils’ defence only to be eventually diverted away from goal by the giant Dutch stopper.
The Argentina international went close again after half an hour, diving to connect with the ball only for Van der Sar to make a fine stop.
City were beginning to gain the advantage and, immediately after the break, Micah charged forward and unleashed an almighty left-foot shot that required a superb finger-tip save by United’s keeper.
As unfortunately occurred in the first-leg, a coin thrown by a member of the crowd was to overshadow proceedings momentarily with Bellamy the victim on this occasion, though all eyes would return to the pitch as Ferguson’s men seized the lead.
Rooney picked out Giggs with a pinpoint pass, and while the Welshman wasted the opportunity, the ball deflected to Paul Scholes who in turn found the back of the net to give the home side the advantage.
And it could have been two a minute later as Rooney broke through on goal only for Vincent Kompany to make a terrific last-ditch tackle, whilst Micah and Darren Fletcher almost involved themselves in a full on brawl as both sides battled to gain the advantage.
It was, though, to be Ferguson’s men who strengthened their position as Michael Carrick grabbed a second having been teed up by Fletcher, and it really should have been three as Rooney missed the target from a yard out.
To rub salt in the wound for the former Everton hit-man, City scored to level the tie on aggregate and silence the previously jubilant home crowd.
Inevitably it was Tevez who did the damage, meeting Bellamy’s cross and directing the ball beyond Van der Sar.
The match was there for the taking for both sides, and United almost hit back straight away when Carrick’s shot fizzed wide of the post by inches.
The game was set to enter the torturous fate of extra time, but there was to be a final, dramatic twist at Old Trafford as Rooney powered home a header after a curling ball by Giggs.
It was the ultimate heartbreak for Roberto Mancini’s side after their fine efforts, but it’s Manchester United who march on to Wembley in search of yet more silverware as City return to the other side of the city deflated.
Man Utd: Van der Sar, Rafael Da Silva, Ferdinand, Jonathan Evans, Evra, Fletcher, Scholes, Carrick, Nani, Rooney, Giggs. Subs: Kuszczak, Brown, Owen, Berbatov, Park, Vidic, Valencia.
Man City: Given, Richards, Kompany, Boyata, Garrido, De Jong, Barry, Zabaleta, Wright-Phillips, Tevez, Bellamy. Subs: Taylor, Onuoha, Ireland, Sylvinho, Petrov, Adebayor, Ibrahim.
Man Utd: Scholes (52’), Carrick (71’). Rooney (90+2)
Man City: Tevez (76’)