City lost their Carling Cup semi-final against United as Wayne Rooney scored in Fergie time to send United into the final.
Leading 2-1 from the first leg, the blues looked good value for a draw with the 0-0 time score. Even when Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick scored to put United 2-0, City responded when Carlos Tevez pulled a goal back which looked like sending the time into extra time.
But, as in September, Fergie time took over and United scored to win 4-3 on aggregate and send the blues crashing out. However, City can take heart from the happenings of both legs and indeed, the whole tie.
Prior to League One side Leeds United knocking the reds out of the FA Cup, SAF promised to stick by his kids in the Carling Cup so it is a measure of how much a threat City pose to United’s dominance that he played his strongest team possible including Rio Ferdinand, who is facing a violent conduct charge from the FA.
Indeed it was City who decided to field a youngster for both games in the shape of Dedryck Boyata, a move which is showing that the blues are getting to the stage where we have strength in depth.
It was the biggest derby in years and although it ended in defeat, a lot of positives will be taken once the dust has settled.
City had the better chances in the first half, with Tevez wasted the chance of the half chance on 28 minutes when he headed straight at van der Sar from Craig Bellamy’s perfect cross.
Pressure was on United at the start of the second half but it was City who almost took the lead. Micah Richards’ rising drive had van der Sar at full stretch to tip it away for a corner. Bellamy went to take it and was subsequently hit by a coin and a plastic bottle thrown at him as some United fans decided to bring shame on their club.
On 52 minutes, Scholes got his goal from the edge of the area and Carrick made it two on 71 minutes before Rooney missed a sitter from eight yards.
The tie looked to be going into extra time when Tevez, the scourge of United in the first leg, got to the ball ahead of Ferdinand and back-heeled it into the net Denis Law style.
Unfortunately, as usual at Old Trafford added time was City’s undoing when Rooney got a lucky goal to win the tie.
It was a fantastic effort from the blues, who will now focus on fourth spot and that elusive Champions League place. And there is also a home FA Cup 5th round tie with Stoke in February and a place in the quarter finals to go for.
We may not have won tonight but the ear-splitting noise from Old Trafford showed that it meant more to United than they care to admit. They now recognise the threat from Eastlands and that scares the hell out of them.
Despite the result, the balance of power in Manchester is starting to shift. And when it does, reds fans will not know what has hit them.