Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United
Kompany 45 +1
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Lescott, Kompany, Clichy, Barry, Toure Yaya, Silva, Tevez, Nasri, Aguero.
Subs: Pantilimon, Richards, Milner, Dzeko, Kolarov, De Jong, Balotelli.
Manchester United: De Gea, Jones, Ferdinand, Smalling, Evra, Nani, Carrick, Scholes, Park, Giggs, Rooney.
Subs: Amos, Berbatov, Hernandez, Young, Welbeck, Rafael Da Silva, Valencia.
Referee: Andre Marriner (W Midlands)
After all the hype leading up to yesterday evening’s kick-off, the Manchester Derby proved to be a huge disappointment. The majority of the 650 million viewers were expecting a goal filled match, with quality from the greatest players in the Premier League. Instead we sat and witnessed, a lacklustre defensive performance from United as City walked away with an easy three points.
Manchester City took control of the Premier League title race with two games remaining after the derby victory saw them leapfrog rivals Manchester United at the top of the table.
Vincent Kompany’s header in first-half stoppage time gave City the win that means they have wiped out the eight-point advantage held by United three weeks ago, and move to the summit on goal difference.
In a game of few chances, City were the more positive side and deserved the three points on offer in what had been labelled the biggest game in the Premier League’s 20-year history.
United, in contrast, were passive, poor and lacking inspiration despite the high stakes, failing to get a shot on target as City keeper Joe Hart enjoyed a virtually untroubled night.
Ferguson and Mancini went toe-to-toe in the 78th minute in a furious row in the technical area after Nigel De Jong had been booked for a foul on Danny Welbeck.
Fourth official Mike Jones had to stand between the pair and members of United and City’s coaching staff got involved as the feuding managers continued their verbal tirade.
The pair were eventually separated, with Mancini making a mocking gesture towards Ferguson with his hands to further enrage the United boss, who watched his side surrender the initiative in the title race.
For me, Ferguson’s team selection and tactics were the main reason behind the loss. The decision to play a 5-man midfield appeared extremely negative. He was clearly playing for the single point, which would have kept United in top spot. This formation left Rooney extremely isolated up-front.
For certain spells in the game Rooney was even forced to come back and assist the midfield, leaving no attacking players in Manchester City’s half.
Park Ji-Sung’s start for the first time since January was another controversial decision. He was given the tough task of marking Yaya Toure. However, his contribution had been minimal. It was no surprise when he was the first player substituted by Ferguson before the hour, as he chose to give United more offensive options by introducing Welbeck. Smalling, like Park, was also making his first start since January after Jonny Evans was ruled out through injury, momentarily lost Kompany on their run from the edge of the box and was still marginally out of position when the Belgian rose to power home from six yards.
Ferguson’s experienced line-up rarely threatened Joe Hart’s goal and City always looked likeliest to score.
It was an agonising final few minutes for the home fans. However, United’s display was so poor that they were unable to even rouse themselves for their trademark late rally, City surviving in complete comfort to take control of the title race.
With United dropping eight points out of their last 12, the momentum and advantage is now with City. Mancini knows victory in their last two games, away at Newcastle United and at home to Queen’s Park Rangers, would give them their first title since 1967-68.
City’s recent resurgence has also proved decisive for their goal difference as they now hold an eight-goal advantage over United and, as referee Andre Marriner sounded the final whistle, their fans celebrated a victory they clearly felt would prove decisive.
Now United have a colossal task on their hand, the league is mathematically still winnable, but would take a huge number of goals in their final two games against Sunderland, then Swansea. However, If Manchester City slip up in their last two fixtures, Ferguson’s side will re-gain the top spot, providing they finish the league campaign with two wins.
It’s clear to see that Mancini’s has much greater quality than United. Ferguson’s ‘experienced’ side is clearly ageing, recent results have shown this. In summer I’m hopeful that Ferguson will invest in new, quality players. Maybe then we can put a highly unsuccessful season behind us and set out in August with all guns blazing.
Below are the Mirror Football ratings for each player from yesterday’s match:
Nervy punch inside the first five minutes but assured handling thereafter. City’s dominance of possession mean he was never called upon to make a save at all. 6
Pushed forward at every opportunity, overlapping with Nasri and causing Evra problems down United’s left side. Defensively sound too, justifying selection ahead of Richards. 7
Superb header from Silva’s corner to give City the lead in first-half added time, out-jumping Smalling to score. Booked for a foul on Rooney midway through the first-half. 8
Read the game superbly and made a succession of vital blocks and headed clearances when called upon, continuing the impressive form he has shown all season. 7
Like Zabaleta, he was able to push on from his left-back berth and gave Jones a torrid time, at times effectively playing as a wing-back he was so far forward. 7
Another no-nonsense display from one of City’s most effective but underrated players. Allowed Toure to get into advanced positions while he protected the back-four. 7
A colossus in midfield. Made his physical presence felt with a superb ball-winning tackle to dispossess Jones in the first-half and was the driving force for City through the middle. 8
Caused anxiety in the United defence on the ball with his darting runs and clever movement, and provided the delivery from a corner for Kompany’s goal just before half-time. 7
A constant threat whenever on the ball, he gave City the cutting edge in attack and was their most effective attacking player, drawing opponents to him to open up space. 8
Played a key role in Kompany’s goal, tussling with De Gea on the goal-line and ensuring the United keeper did not see the City skipper’s goal-bound header until too late. 7
Lashed at the ball on the volley in the 25th minute, sending it high and wide of the goal. For once he wasn’t City’s match-winner, but his constant movement meant United could never settle. 6
De Jong for Tevez (67mins): Fullfiled his remit of helping to shut the game down. 5
Richards for Silva (82mins): Brought on to see out the game.
David De Gea
Did not see Kompany’s header until it was too late, Tevez putting him off in the build-up to the corner and ensuring United’s keeper got nowhere near the ball. 5
Made a couple of crucial early blocks but looked all at sea thereafter, constantly pulled out of position and lacking the defensive discipline to fulfil his remit at right-back. Booked. 4
First appearance in four weeks and how it showed. Hopeless marking for City’s first goal, his hesitancy allowing Kompany to get to the ball ahead of him and power it in. 4
Looked the most assured of his fellow defenders but that’s not saying much given their poor displays. Had to draw on all his experience with the shortcomings of those around him. 6
Has had a poor season and it didn’t get any better last night, as he was given the runaround by Nasri and, at times, Zabaleta. Didn’t get enough protection from Giggs. 5
Has been a consistent performer for United this season but like his fellow midfielders he was simply overran. Looked lightweight up against Toure and Barry. 5
Struggled to make any kind of impact on the game, which seemed to pass him by in midfield, with younger, stronger and more agile players getting the better of him. 5
With him, Scholes and Carrick, United’s central midfield trio had a combined age of 105, which showed. A peripheral figure, his selection, too, was a decision which backfired. 5
Ballooned a long-range shot way over the bar after 10 minutes and that was pretty much it. Offered little in the way of an attacking threat and failed to trouble City’s defence. 5
Recalled to the side for the first time in six weeks for his energy and tenacity, his role to disrupt City in midfield. But the ploy backfired and he was subbed before the hour. 4
Looked out of sorts all night. Sloppy in possession, frequently misplaced passes and looked ill at ease leading the line alone until Welbeck’s introduction just before the hour. 5
Welbeck for Park (57mins): Failed to make the impact required of him. 5
Valencia for Scholes (78min): Came on too late to make an impact.
Young for Nani (82mins): Another whose introduction came too late.
Man of the Match
Yaya Toure: A colossal display, drove City to victory.
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