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 attack, then Michael Carrick and Owen Hargreaves came on for O’Shea and Anderson respectively with little over 15 minutes remaining.
A United goal did arrive, 90 seconds into three minutes of added time, as Carrick wonderfully stroked the ball into the bottom corner from 20 yards. But it was but a flicker of hope. Too little, too late.
A derby defeat is always hard to take, and this, City’s first win here since 1974 when Denis Law scored for the opposition, was especially tough to swallow because Sir Alex Ferguson’s side simply didn’t give a good account of themselves.