Cristiano sent off as City slump to derby day defeat
Manchester United midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off as Wayne Rooney’s 100th Premier League goal condemned City to a 1-0 defeat at Eastlands.
City, fresh from beating Schalke 2-0 in the UEFA Cup midweek, looked lacklustre and unorganised. Right from the start, the visitors dominated possession and exposed City’s self-confessed ‘soft centre’. Dimitar Berbatov, who was linked with City on transfer deadline day, forced Joe Hart into making a superb save. Chances were also created by Rooney, Ronaldo and Evra.
But it was Mark Hughes’ side that had the best chance of the first half. In-form Stephen Ireland’s speculative effort looked to be headed towards the net, with defender Micah Richards thinking the ball wouldn’t need a touch, but the effort clipped the post.
United remained determined and resolute and the breakthrough was inevitable. On 42 minutes, poor defending from City resulted in Michael Carrick being allowed a shot on goal. His effort was only parried by Hart and the ball rolled to Rooney, who delighted in tapping the ball into the net in front of the horrified home crowd.
Hughes made two changes at the break, putting Vincent Kompany into midfield and introducing controversial Brazilian Elano and defender Pablo Zabeleta to the game. Immediately City looked more interested and positive moving forward. But serious chances and creativity was hard to come by, and the home side in their anxiety to equalise, left themselves exposed at the back with United’s counter attacking.
But Alex Ferguson’s side were reduced to ten men when Ronaldo’ peculiar hand-ball from a corner left referee Howard Webb with no choice. Webb had already booked the Portuguese winger after a vicious challenge on Shaun Wright-Phillips and his bizarre handball from a corner left him seeing red. Ronaldo was very reluctant to leave the Eastlands pitch and had to be escorted off the turf and consoled down the tunnel.
This incident incited City and spurred the home crowd on. But the equaliser was not to be. In fact, United nearly doubled their lead in the dying minutes after City goalkeeper Hart went up for a corner, leaving his goal exposed. Rooney seized the opportunity and his accurate lob was only blocked by the scampering efforts of the blushing Hart. United were deserved of their win. City looked tired after their mid-week display and Hughes looked to shuffle his pack by playing Kompany in defence in the first half.
Dietmar Hamann’s retirement should surely be around the corner and, although Vassell and Benjani are industrious, they both are lacking quality in their delivery. Elano, fresh from his outbursts to the media, came on looking like he had a point to prove, but created nothing. His free kick was ballooned far into the crowd. But United’s tackling was questionable to say the least, with Wright-Phillips bearing the onslaught of Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Ronaldo. United now move to third while City languish just two points off the relegation zone.