Robin Van Persie salvages three points for Manchester United in an enthralling fixture at Etihad.
- Lineup changes for both squads saw Balotelli, Nastasic, Cleverley and Valencia draw the start. The United players among that quartet had excellent games.
- As usual we were told the temperature was on boil early — in a rare event, the commentators accurately surmised what was going on. Five minutes on, Rio Ferdinand’s challenge on Kun Aguero drew the ire of Balotelli. Wayne Rooney lodged two rough challenges that may have drawn a yellow in different circumstances.
- City dominated play early, as United looked as though they were content sitting back. David Silva was active early, providing a great ball to Clichy who found Balotelli in the box. The Italian enigma should’ve done better.
- However it was United who opened the scoring, completely against the run of play at that. An excellent counter attack (shameless plug) led by Ashley Young and RVP led to Wayne Rooney streaking across the top of the box. His low, right footed strike left Joe Hart flat footed. Was Rooney’s placement intentional? It was, though the strike was hardly clean.
- It got worse for Mancini. Captain Vincent Kompany was forced out by injury, leading to the introduction of everyone’s favourite shady car salesman, one Kolo Toure.
- Once again, United’s positive play was accompanied by RVP dropping deep.
- Rooney made the lead two in the 29 minute, becoming the youngest player to score 150 goals in EPL history. Toure and Nastatic were nowhere to be seen on the play — a running theme in the first half.
- What adjustments would Mancini make in the second half was the question. After an untimely back heel Balotelli was banished to the bench in favour of Tevez. Once again Mancini and Balo comported themselves with the class of two high school freshmen.
- In a span of five minutes the game would be turned on its head. Ashley Young looked to have made it 3-0 only to be ruled offside on the play. Replays indicate Martin Atkinson’s assistant got it wrong. They got a lot of things wrong on this day.
- One minute later Yaya Toure cut the lead to one after a mad scramble in the United box that saw David De Gea make two wonderful saves before succumbing to the pressure. City loves the final 30.
- In some cases ‘letting the boys play’ is a welcome development. In this one it wasn’t. A Smalling hand ball, Toure’s take down on Patrice Evra in the box and refusing to play an advantage on Rooney’s yellow were the hallmarks of an atrocious officiating effort.
- Kudos to Carlos Tevez for refusing to go down in the box in the 67th minute. It was nice to see.
- Super-sub (a part of me dies every time I write that) Edin Dzeko replaced Yaya in the 84th minute. Two minutes later City would equalize. A poor clearance from Evra landed on the boot of Pablo Zabaleta. The defender’s strike was superb. 2-2.
- And then things got crazy. A lazy foul by
Gael ClichyTevez on Rafael set up a United free kick in dangerous territory. Confusion between Silva and Tevez resulted in the latter leaving his place in the wall. RVP’s free kick as deflected by Nasri — doing his best to get out of the way — and went past Hart’s outstretched right hand. This is why they signed him. Somewhere in London Arsene poured himself a drink.
- The ensuing celebration saw Rio Ferdinand get hit with a coin and a Manchester City supporter charge after him only to be stopped by Hart.
- This is why we can’t have nice things. The coins on the ground in the gif above indicate this wasn’t a one time occurance (Rooney complained about a similar incident earlier in the game).
- United open a six point lead at the top. Mancini will face legitimate questions regarding his team selection. Tevez-Aguero is the partnership he must run with. Meanwhile Alex Ferguson out manages his opposition for the 3,475th time.
1. Wayne Rooney
2. Robin Van Persie
3. Patrice Evra