A Thoroughly Underwhelming Revenge On Citeh
We're only four points away now and unlike last season, we haven't allowed City to win their cup final. So a fairly satisfying afternoon, this was. But even I cannot deny that it's been mostly underwhelming.
Fergie omitted Rooney and Carrick from the starting line-up and with good reason as both will be essential against Wigan, Arsenal and in Rome as well. A Ronaldo, Fletcher, Giggs, Park midfield looked more than capable of disposing with Citeh who were, of course, comprehensively outplayed at the Eastlands.
And it was enough, despite a somewhat average performance. United were better and sharper but I cannot say we've been brilliant. Fletcher had another very good game, Vidic has been impregnable again, Evans filled in nicely for Rio while Berbatov linked midfield and attack superbly. Ronaldo and Tevez were both willing to inflict damage and looked dangerous.
It was fitting that Berbatov won the free-kick which Ronaldo converted (with not a little help from De Jong and Given). Tevez should have doubled the lead not long after but his magnificent effort hit the post...
It wasn't a game full of artistic beauty but the second goal was worth it: Fletcher's long ball was plucked out of the air with ease by Berbatov who turned and laid the ball to Tevez who took a touch then lashed home an unstoppable effort from the edge of the box. It hit the inside of the post before ending up in the other corner.
That goal, at the stroke of half-time, effectively killed the game. United came out for the second half with only one intention: to see out the remaining 45 minutes without too much trouble. Giggs had 'one of those' games, he was largely anonymous which did not help, and neither did the fact that young Rafael wasn't at his best. Still, City's only decent chance fell to the otherwise poor Robinho but he was surprised that his marker Rafael slipped and blasted the ball into the stands.
Even Ronaldo's tantrum did not shackle United - not that it was likely to do so. It was as comfortable as it gets in a derby game even if City had a lot of possession in the second half. But only United looked like scoring again and Tevez could have added another to his tally but somehow managed to head Fletcher's flick-on onto the post from about 50 inches.
It did not really matter though: United won 2-0, there were a few glimpses of brilliance (the second goal, Tevez's first shot which hit the post, Scholes' first-time pass with the outside of his foot to Giggs), we're back on top of the table and can wrap up the title before Liverpool play again.
Oh, and where were the 'real Mancunian fans'? Have you heard about them? They were supposed to be here but the southeast corner was deadly quiet...