Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie completed an attacking side. City named Aguero on their bench, leaving Carlos Tevez to lead the line alone in front of a packed midfield.
There was little sign of congestion in the middle of the park as the match got off to a fast-paced, evenly-matched start, with both teams playing on the front foot and referee Mike Dean letting some stern challenges go without stopping play. Welbeck had a glancing header saved easily by Joe Hart, while James Milner’s fiercely-struck cross was palmed to safety by David De Gea, and then van Persie stroked an effort wide of the post, all inside the opening ten minutes.
City took the initiative after that, however, and a spell of pressure led to a good opening after 20 minutes when Silva’s neat lay-off from Kompany’s lofted pass was superbly anticipated by Jones, who slid in to clear the ball from Tevez’s toes.
Outright chances were few and far between in the opening 45 minutes as the game failed to deliver on a blustering opening period. United gradually edged back into the contest and with seconds left on the clock before the break Rafael poked a shot against the bar from van Persie’s lay-off inside the area.
The second half began in much the same fashion as the first: an open affair, with neither side dominating, but out of very little City struck the game’s first blow on 51 minutes as Milner’s shot from 20 yards fizzed through sliding challenges from Jones and Carrick and proved too powerful for De Gea’s outstretched right hand. United had conceded possession easily in the lead up to the goal as Giggs’ attempted backheel allowed Barry to attack down the left.