The biggest match of the season. A tense derby between the best two sides in England. A match that could confirm the title for United, or create a very nervy end to the season for all Mancunians. Prior to the game, United sat three points ahead of their “noisy neighbours”, but a victory for City at the Etihad would see the blue side of Manchester leapfrog the Red Devils by virtue of goal difference.
The streets of Manchester emptied as the passionate fans of these two great teams, who have been slugging it out all season, entered The Etihad and pubs across town. The 47,000 fans in the former Commonwealth games stadium created an electric atmosphere as the teams walked onto the pitch.
Despite the huge home support and Ferguson opting to play five in midfield, United began the game as the stronger of the two sides. However, they failed to capitalise on the early possession they held. The most productive moment of their half was when Wayne Rooney induced a foul from City skipper Vincent Kompany, referee Andre Mariner did the rest for United showing the Belgian a yellow card.
City wrestled their way back into the game, playing the more attacking football of the half. Sergio Aguero looked dangerous, but could only send his 10 yard volley sky-high. The pressure eventually took its toll in first half stoppage time, as United conceded a corner. David Silva swung the ball in, Chris Smalling lost his man and Vincent Kompany did the rest, sending a ferocious header past the sprawling De Gea.
United did look better as they came out for the second half (no doubt after the Fergie hairdryer treatment), however they never seemed to get a grip of the game. With neither side creating chances, Ferguson introduced Wellbeck, Valencia and Young to take the game to City, while Mancini introduced De Jong and Richards to shut the game down.
The game came alive in the closing moments, as Yaya Toure, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri all had opportunities to doubled City’s lead. It was heroics from Kompany and co at the back that prevented a last-minute equaliser.
City deservedly completed the 1-0 victory and jumped to the top of the league. With two games to go, it looks as though fans are in for an exciting end to the season, as City travel to Newcastle at the weekend, while United host Swansea.
WinkBall reporter were at the Etihad on Monday 30th April 2012 to talk to fans about their expectations for the match and what they think about the potential appointment of Roy Hodgson as the next England manager.