The Reds started as the brighter of the two teams but it was the Blues who made the crucial breakthrough when Mario Balotelli sidefooted past David De Gea after 22 minutes. Jonny Evans’ red card just after the break made it a real uphill fight for the champions and it got worse thereafter as Balotelli grabbed a second goal before further strikes from Sergio Aguero, David Silva and two from substitute Edin Dzeko left Old Trafford stunned. United’s 18-month unbeaten run at home was well and truly over.
Sir Alex Ferguson made three changes to the side that had earned a point at Anfield eight days earlier with Wayne Rooney, Anderson and Nani all returning. Meanwhile, Jonny Evans partnered Rio Ferdinand in the back four, with Nemanja Vidic - sent off in the Champions League in midweek - not in the 18. City boss Roberto Mancini, meanwhile, opted for a five-man midfield of Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry, James Milner, Mario Balotelli and David Silva with Sergio Aguero up front on his own.
United dominated the early possession with Nani and Ashley Young looking lively on both flanks, and Wayne Rooney seemingly very much in the mood, dropping deep to dictate the play for much of the opening 20 minutes. But tellingly, as it turned out, the Reds failed to create any real clear-cut chances.
City saw very little of the ball in that period but whenever they did the men in blue were always quick to try and find the man that makes them tick – David Silva. The Spaniard looked a threat every time he gained possession; indeed it was his pass into James Milner which led to City taking the lead