|1||Van der Sar|
United fans have seen more than most. And for those inside Old Trafford on Saturday, they can now add to the list one of the most spectacular goals ever scored in a Manchester derby.
Michael Owen’s winner in this fixture last season was dramatic, but Wayne Rooney’s overhead kick on 78 minutes was so outrageous, so perfect, that it almost beggared belief. He seemed to hang in the air for an age. And then, when the ball arrived above his head, his body horizontal, Rooney’s right boot sent it hurtling into the top corner.
So much for a boring Manchester derby, eh? In fact, any fears that this game would be a repeat of the drab 0-0 that the teams played out at Eastlands in November disappeared almost immediately as United won a corner within the first minute. And although Sir Alex had loaded his midfield to match City's 4-5-1 formation, Nani and Ryan Giggs consistently pushed onto City’s full-backs when the Reds were in possession.
City, too, played their part in the entertainment. In fact, despite a reputation for being overtly defensive against the big sides, it was Mancini’s men who fashioned the best chances in the opening minutes. With barely three minutes on the clock, Tevez and Silva combined to play the Spaniard in on goal, but his stabbed effort rolled mercifully wide of the far post.
The chances kept coming. Nani jinked inside from the right wing and fizzed a left-footed shot just over the bar, while Yaya Toure headed wide from David Silva’s free-kick. Smalling then had to be alert to cut out Toure’s drilled cross after the Ivorian had found space inside the penalty area.
City weren’t sitting back and the visitors’ attacking approach appeared to catch the Reds off-guard. It was definitely uncharacteristic.