Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United: possession versus counter-attack

Manchester City Manchester united
“Manchester United stormed into a 0-2 lead, City got it back to 2-2, then United pinched the win very late on. Roberto Mancini went with Mario Balotelli upfront rather than Carlos Tevez – the rest of his side was as expected. Antonio Valencia was surprisingly declared fit, so Sir Alex Ferguson chose the same XI he selected in United’s most comparable fixture this season, the 3-2 win at Stamford Bridge in October. In one sense United were fortunate to win the match because of the manner of their late winner, in another they were unfortunate not to be 3-0 up earlier in the second half. In a match of contrasting approaches, United carried out theirs more effectively.” Zonal Marking

Manchester City 2 Manchester United 3: match report
“Samir Nasri would be advised not to show his face around Manchester City fans’ haunts for a few days after failing to show his face when it mattered most in this epic derby. Embarrassingly and expensively, Nasri hid behind the wall, opening space for Robin van Persie’s winning free-kick. Such key moments can unlock trophy cabinets. Trailing 2-0 at the break, the champions had rallied impressively. Halfway through four minutes of added time, City just had to repel a free-kick to protect their 37-game unbeaten league home record, to ensure United were only three points clear. City’s wall was initially a gang of four. Gareth Barry and Edin Dzeko, the taller players, protected Joe Hart’s near post. Then came Nasri and Carlos Tévez, who suddenly broke away from the wall, seemingly to follow Wayne Rooney. And then there were three.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Manchester United’s fast breakaways down flanks cut City wide open
“In an age where squad rotation is widespread, it is entirely normal for a title-challenging manager to chop and change between matches, but rarely have Sir Alex Ferguson’s selection decisions caused such consternation among Manchester United fans. Too often this season, United have conceded the first goal and been forced to win the match from the bench – here, Ferguson needed to get his starting lineup right. His selection made sense – he turned to the XI he used at Chelsea in October, a decision made possible by Antonio Valencia’s surprise recovery from injury. That was a sign he wanted to replicate the display at Stamford Bridge, which was sealed by a fortunate goal, but featured some fantastic counterattacking throughout the match, with an obvious pattern. Chelsea were flooding the centre of the pitch under Roberto Di Matteo, so United broke quickly down the flanks, particularly the right.” Guardian – Michael Cox

Robin van Persie scores late winner as Manchester United beat City
“It was the kind of tempestuous finale that has come to symbolise these clashes and, out of the madness, Manchester United will cherish their six-point lead over the team that caused them so many hardships last season. But where to start? The final whistle alone felt like bedlam, with Carlos Tevez and Sir Alex Ferguson contemplating whether to prolong an old argument, Gareth Barry screaming at Roberto Mancini, Rio Ferdinand nursing a line of blood above his left eye and Phil Jones, already booked for inciting the crowd, determined to milk the moment some more.” Guardian (Video)

Man City 2 Man United 3
“There is Wayne Rooney, who became the youngest player to hit 150 Premier League goals, as he put his team two up in the first half. And there is the irrepressible Robin van Persie, whose 14th of the season won a fantastic game after City had threatened a Mission: Impossible comeback.” The Sun (Video)

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