The big pregame talking points (aside from the fixture and how it all panned out and such) were the lineups for both squads. Mancini, along with his usual attempt at mind games, decided to leave out Tevez in favor for the always controversial Mario Balotelli. Apparently his reasons for doing so was that not-so-super Mario scored twice in the 6-1 beat-down of United last season and was on the ass-end of the tackle that saw Johnny Evans sent off. Frankly I was happy by the decision and eagerly anticipated an early red card against Balotelli. For United, it was nice to see Valencia and Cleverley back in the so soon after their injuries and that the midfield was going for width as opposed to the diamond setup. David De Gea was in goal for The Reds, ending Anders Lindegaard’s starting streak and further questioning who is going to be the undisputed number 1 in goal. Lindegaard did not even make the trip with the team due to the fact that his wife was having a baby. (Congrats, mate!)
The away side is buzzing during kickoff and the home supporters have left about 20,000 seats empty, as per-usual.
Money City came out attacking pretty well but, the first goal came from Wayne Rooney in the 16th minute. I must say, he made a hash of the cross from Young, hitting the ball on the top and putting an odd spin on it. Nevertheless, time seemed to slow down and there was a seemingly eternal moment of silence as the ball slowly bobbled into the bottom corner of the net with Joe Hart just ball watching.
After about 20 minutes, Vincent Kompany had to be subbed by Kolo Touré due to an apparent groin injury. Kompany went straight down the tunnel after limping off the pitch. Not the first time he’s walked down the tunnel with his head down in this fixture if anyone remembers the straight red he received for the two-footed lunge against a United man. The United goal seemed to give The Reds a real boost in confidence while apparently knocking the wind out of City judging by the attacking conviction United carried throughout the game afterwards.
28th minute, Rooney scores again! WAAAZZZAAAAA! (Sorry. Not really) It was played the way United expected to play, taking it down the wing and sending in a cross that gets put away. You can see United brimming with confidence now. I was pretty fucking pumped myself seeing as though we were playing as we should be and didn’t concede first and have to come back for once!
50th minute (and not a minute too soon if you’re a City fan) Balotelli is finally taken off in place of the money grabbing, ugly git from Argentina, Carlos Tevez. To put it lightly, Mario played like shit. And in true Balotelli fashion, he heads straight down the tunnel with a few nasty glares at his manager. When will they just come out with their love for each other and take this nasty burden off of their shoulders? We’ll even come up with a celebrity couple nickname for them, like Ballo-Cini! And speaking of celebrities, Tom Cruise was in the VIP box for reasons unbeknownst to pretty much everyone.
60th minute, City pulled one back via Yaya Touré who cannoned one it from about 12 yards out after a save from De Gea. This was after RVP rattled one off the post with his right and weaker foot, Young tapped in the rebound but it was ruled offsides, which it clearly was not, and City was on the counterattack.
Tempers were starting to flair, crunching tackles were coming in left and right, harsh words were being exchanged, booing commenced, Rio was booked, and there was a decent amount of penalty cries from both ends.
68th minute, Carlos “The Neck” Tevez dribbled past a United defense that appeared clueless at the time, muscled past Evra to put himself one-on-one with the keeper and pops a weak effort at goal that De Gea was happy to swallow up.
No big game, especially a derby match would be complete without some questionable calls by the referee.
There was an alleged handball in the box by Chris Smalling that wasn’t called, I didn’t see it so I can’t call it here, nor there in truth. But, the biggest one involved a very unfortunate Yaya Touré. Yaya comes screaming down the left wing, avoids some nasty tackles, regains his balance and finds himself in acres of space in the United half, only to have referee Martin Atkinson blow the whistle and pull the play back when the advantage was clearly there for the likes of Stevie Wonder to see.
82nd minute, I was a bit troubled by the fact that Money City finally decided to make a good call and bring on Edin “The Supersub” Dzeko onto the pitch to replace Yaya. United respond with a defensive change, bringing on Phil Jones to replace Valencia and Gary Neville claimed that United then changed their formation to 4-5-1. Who are we to argue?
86th minute, City draw level and I’m shitting my pants hoping that the United defense holds up and City don’t win it United style. Zabaleta was the goal scorer with his best Paul Scholes impression by netting a loose ball on the edge of the box after a corner. Ferguson jumps right away and replaces Cleverley for Danny Welbeck.
92nd minute, Robin Van fucking Persie scores from a free kick to seal the winner for United. Joe Hart may have had a chance to save it if it hadn’t taken a deflection from Samir Nasri’s boot. Nice to see former Arsenal players still looking after each other. Now things get REALLY interesting. During the goal celebration, some City wanker nailed Rio Ferdinand in the eye with a copper coin (anything thrown towards a player is referred to a “missile:) busting his face open. Police come crashing into that section of the home side like gang-busters attempting to find the culprit, and violence and anarchy break out in the stands. During the madness, another City wanker somehow made his way onto the pitch and made a bee-line for Rio and Atkinson, the referee only to be muscled back by Joe Hart (the only respectable player on that squad) before being hauled off by the old bill. (cops) Good thing too, cause Rio looked like he fancied a scrap with the lad in blue. Good on ya, Joe!
Police have made 9 arrests in that part of the Ethiad due to the chaos, some drunken dis-orderlies and alleged racist abuse (when will the racist shit finally end? It’s a disgrace) Interestingly enough, the man who invaded the pitch and was charged with pitch encroachment, apologized to Rio and thanked Joe Hart for holding him back. He also defended his character via his solicitor, all of which you can view here.
A hell of a Manchester derby I’d say, the best one I’ve seen yet. It will live long in the memories.