20/01/2009 21:55, Report by Adam Bostock
United 4 Derby 2
United can add a third League Cup to the honours board on 1 March after booking a place in the Wembley final with a thrilling 4-2 win at Old Trafford.
Trailing 1-0 from the away leg, the Reds wasted little time in taking control of this tie with first-half goals from Nani, John O’Shea and Carlos Tevez. But the world champions needed a penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo to make absolutely sure of victory in the second half when substitute Giles Barnes claimed a memorable brace for Derby.
Sir Alex Ferguson made two changes to the side which slipped to a first-leg defeat at Derby, with Ben Foster making his first start in goal since the quarter-final victory over Blackburn, and Ryan Giggs replacing Paul Scholes in midfield.
Though United started strongly, Kris Commons soon reminded us why the Rams came to Old Trafford with an advantage when he unleashed a tremendous shot not dissimilar to his goal at Pride Park; this one swerved just wide with Foster pawing the air.
Moments later Ryan Giggs tested his former team-mate Roy Carroll with a teasing ball towards the back post and while the Derby goalkeeper coped well with this one, he had no answer to United’s glorious opener.
If stunning goals marked Nani’s arrival at Old Trafford, then another could reignite his form in a challenging second season. There seemed little danger to Derby when he picked up the ball close to halfway but seconds later it was nestling in the net after the Portuguese raced at the Rams’ defence and cut inside to strike an unstoppable shot beyond Carroll.
John O’Shea doubled United’s lead in the 22nd minute when Danny Welbeck fed a first-time ball into the area and the Irishman steadied himself before sliding a low shot to Carroll’s right. O’Shea lapped up the applause, and why not? It's his first goal since April 2007