28/11/2008 17:08, Report by Nick Coppack
Man City 0 United 1
minutes to head narrowly over the bar from Wayne Rooney’s corner. Berbatov then drew a finger-tip save from Hart when he nodded Rafael’s cross towards the far corner.
United’s midfield four, commanded by Darren Fletcher in the middle, were first to everything, as City struggled to win – let alone keep – the ball. Fletcher and Berbatov linked well to release Ronaldo before the ball broke to Patrice Evra, who couldn’t keep his shot down.
Despite dominating, United almost went behind after 32 minutes. Van der Sar came a long way for a City free-kick and struggled to punch clear. With the Dutchman stranded, Stephen Ireland stabbed the ball goalwards from 18 yards. Micah Richards elected not to try and steer it in himself and in the end the ball bounced, almost in slow-motion, off the outside of the post and out for a goal kick.
It would have been cruel on the Reds, but the scare underlined how important it is to take chances in front of goal. And that’s exactly what Wayne Rooney did just before the interval, when his 100th club goal – his 83rd for United – put United in front.
City struggled to clear a bouncing ball inside the penalty area and when it broke to Michael Carrick the midfielder lashed a left-footed shot across Hart towards the far corner. The City goalkeeper did well to keep out the shot, but could only palm the ball to Rooney, who side-footed home from two yards.
The only surprise was that it took so long for the Reds to break the deadlock. Completely dominant in the first 45 minutes, United wouldn’t have been flattered had the score been 3-0 at the break.
Mark Hughes made changes at half-time, bringing Elano and Pablo Zabaleta on for Darius Vassell and Dietmar Hamann. The Blues were buoyed and