There was an understandable air of frustration among Reds supporters, not just at being behind to blue rivals. City pressed and pressure United, whose passing was not as crisp as usual.
The Reds pushed on regardless and were close on numerous occasions to levelling before the break. Tevez had a wonderful turn and volley stopped by an outstanding Joe Hart save, Ronaldo sent one of his arrowed free-kicks marginally over the bar and then fired wide from the edge of the area with a low, left-footed shot. Nemanja Vidic also went close as he stabbed a shot wide from Rio Ferdinand’s scuffed shot.
However, City dealt a cruel blow seconds before the half time whistle with a second goal. After only half clearing the danger from a corner, Petrov, who had proved a real thorn in United’s side, sent in another wicked cross which Benjani Mwaruwari glanced into the far corner. On both occasions City’s goals came after spells of United pressure. Nevertheless, it was their ruthlessness in front of goal that reaped dividends.
In the second half United forced City back, but the football still wasn’t free-flowing. Tevez had the ball in the back of the net on 56 minutes, but it was disallowed for offside. But by the hour mark frustration began to permeate down from the stands. United’s decision-making didn’t seem to be going to plan, and the loose ball always seemed to find its way to a blue shirt. But United couldn’t afford to wallow in self-pity.
Ji-sung Park replaced Nani after 65 minutes to bring some fresh impetus to the Reds