Halftime: Moronic pair of yellows for Smalling sees Manchester United down to 10
The match may be 0-0, but Manchester City are in the driver’s seat.
Chris Smalling was booked on the half-hour mark when he lost his head and blocked Joe Hart’s clearance, earning an automatic yellow from Michael Oliver.
Then, playing on a yellow, he put Louis van Gaal in a massive hole when he scythed down England teammate James Milner on the left wing as the midfielder was looking to send in a cross. It came just nine minutes after his initial booking.
With Manchester United down to 10 men, 19-year-old Adnan Januzaj was sacrificed for 33-year-old Michael Carrick, and Marouane Fellaini has been forced into a much more defensive role.
Both of Smalling’s bookings were completely idiotic. The first was absolutely mind-boggling, as he chose to block off Joe Hart’s punt rather than get back defensively. Then playing on a yellow card, he was caught out of position on a ball to Milner, and getting back late he slid across and swiped his leg across to bring the man down.
Since the sending off, the home side stormed in front and had a pair of shouts for a penalty, both of which referee Michael Oliver waved off. The first initially seemed innocuous as Sergio Aguero looked to have gone down softly under the challenge of Marouane Fellaini with his back to goal, but replays showed a kick from Fellaini to the ankle of Aguero.
The second came just on the stroke of halftime as Marcos Rojo challenged Yaya Toure in the box on the end of a long ball. It looked a hard challenge, but Toure was always off balance.