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Former Reds favourite Carlos Tevez scored twice at Eastlands to hand Manchester City a 2-1 win and set up a mouth-watering Carling Cup semi-final second leg.
The Blues go into next Wednesday’s clash at Old Trafford in pole position but Sir Alex will take plenty of positives from United’s performance on Tuesday. For much of the first 45 minutes the Reds’ midfield outplayed and overran City’s middle men, pegging them back to the point where it looked like Roberto Mancini had opted to play seven in defence.
Ryan Giggs capitalised on United’s early dominance, slotting home on 17 minutes, before Tevez controversially equalised from the spot and then headed City in front after the break.
Sir Alex broke his pre-match promise of sticking with the youngsters in the Carling Cup, admitting to MUTV that derbies were a different breed of game. Instead, the boss opted for old heads: the only player in the Reds’ starting XI younger than 22 was Brazilian right-back Rafael. And it was the most experienced man on the pitch – nay, the most experienced man to ever pull on a Manchester United shirt – who put the Reds in front.
City hadn’t heeded the early danger signs coming down their left flank. As early as the third minute Antonio Valencia had been afforded time and space and the Ecuadorian played a pivotal role in laying on Ryan Giggs’ 152nd United goal.
Picked out by Patrice Evra, Valencia beat Craig Bellamy before sending in the sort of cross goalkeepers and defenders have nightmares about. Low and played with plenty of pace across the six-yard box, the ball found Wayne Rooney, whose close-range toe-poke was well blocked by Shay Given. But Giggs reacted first to the loose ball, side-footing home from