|1||Van der Sar|
season, City had ground out goalless draws away from home against Tottenham and Arsenal. Here, though, the Blues showed plenty of ambition, with Zabaleta and Micah Richards flying down the flanks and Toure and Silva quick to join Tevez in attack.
In contrast, United rather probed and prodded in City’s half and the final ball was all too often misplaced or under-hit. The response from the Stretford End after 30 minutes was to cheer for Dimitar Berbatov’s introduction. Patience, like form, often goes out the window on derby day.
Darren Fletcher, the two-goal hero few remember from last season’s league game at Old Trafford, tried his best to get on the scoresheet when he met Giggs’ outswinging cross firmly from 15 yards. His effort, like Nani’s blast a minute later, was straight at Joe Hart, though, and the City goalkeeper fielded the ball easily.
Patrice Evra then survived a half-hearted claim for handball before Nani sent the Reds ahead with four minutes of the first half remaining. Edwin van der Sar’s long clearance fell to Giggs and the Welshman, spotting Nani’s run through the middle, found him with a cushioned first-time pass. Nani’s first touch took him into the penalty area, his second closer to Hart, but it was his third – a cool left-footed finish that rolled the ball past the City goalkeeper – that prompted an explosion of noise all around Old Trafford.
The Portuguese has scored plenty of goals this term, but few have been greeted with such delirium by United fans. His derby opener handed the Reds the advantage and meant that, for the 10th consecutive home game, Sir Alex’s men went into the break in front.
Manchester City responded by sending Shaun Wright-Phillips on for Aleksander Kolarov early in the second period.