Writer: Red Boy
Date:Sunday December 9 2012
United took the honours at the Etihad Stadium with a dramatic last gasp winner.
For the mega-clash with our noisy-neighbours, Sir Alex Ferguson made two changes from the side that won at Reading last weekend with Cleverley and Valencia coming in for Fletcher and Anderson with the starting eleven being exactly the same as the one that he chose for the recent trip to another of our title rivals, Chelsea.
United got the first half underway but it was to be our hosts who started the better. Rooney raised the noise inside the stadium with a couple of early fouls before Balotelli took centre stage. From a free kick, after Ferdinand had been penalised, he forced De Gea to scramble his shot past the post. Moments later, Balotelli scooped his shot over the bar after Clichy`s cross had caught him a little by surprise.
But, with 12 minutes on the clock and with the early storm weathered, United took the lead. Young, adjacent to the half way line, turned his marker and pushed forward toward the area. A square ball found Rooney and although his mishit shot lacked any real power, it rolled into the City net , adjacent to the post, with Hart stranded. The goal was Rooney`s 149th in the Premier League.
Midway through the half City lost Kompany through injury and United had the momentum. Hart had to dash out of his area to thwart Young although United did have a scare when Aguero danced past several defenders only for De Gea to pull off a save.
Just before the half hour mark, United doubled the lead when Rafael and Valencia combined, down the right flank, for Valencia to deliver a great cross, into the six-yard box, for Rooney to turn it in from close range, his 150th Premier League goal.
On the stroke of half time, Barry had a chance to reduce the arrears but fired wide from a good position.
Half Time - City 0 United 2
City got the second half underway and the first noticeable action saw a limping Evans replaced by Smalling whilst Mancini hauled off an ineffective Balotelli and introduced Tevez. Aguero had the first shot of the half but his effort curled wide before , on the hour mark, United thought they`d increased their lead when Van Persie saw his shot hit the post for Young to bury the rebound, however, the assistant had his flag up for offside, against Young, when it looked a if Zabaleta wa splaying him on.
Almost immediately, the arrears were reduced when, despite pulling off great saves from Tevez and Aguero, Yaya Toure was on hand to drive the ball home from just inside the area. United thought they should have had a penalty when Evra appeared to be clipped by Kolo Toure in the area but the referee waved play on.
Van Persie could only watch is flicked header drift wide, from a Cleverley cross, before De Gea was somewhat relieved to see a shot from Nasri deflect over the bar, off of his shoulder. Tevez fired a difficult chance wide before Sir Alex was forced to introduce a limping Valencia and throw on Jones.
With four minutes left City drew level. United failed to defend the edge of the area and when the ball broke to Zabaleta, from a corner, he drilled the ball home past De Gea. Sir Alex made a third change bringing on Welbeck for Cleverley but the game, with four minutes of stoppage time announced, was to have a dramatic climax.
Rafael, pushing forward, was tripped by Tevez. Van Persie took the free kick, Nasri stuck out a leg in the wall and the ball took a deflection big enough to arc past Hart, in the City goal, for a dramatic winner. United had the three points and now lead the title race by a significant margin.
Date:Sunday December 9 2012
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|2. Man City||16||11||3||2||+19||36|
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|4. West Ham||16||8||4||4||+8||28|
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