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As it happened: Manchester City vs. Manchester United

A combination of file pictures created o

A combination of file pictures created on April 30, 2012 shows Manchester City’s Italian manager Roberto Mancini (L) waiting for kick off during an English Premier League football match against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton on April 22, 2012 and Manchester United’s Scottish manager Alex Ferguson (R) before the start of the English Premier League football match against Wigan Athletic at The DW Stadium in Wigan, north-west England on April 11, 2012. The defining plot twist of the most enthralling title race in years could be written on April 30 as Manchester City attempt to seize control of their Premier League destiny against leaders Manchester United. AFP PHOTO / IAN KINGTON / ANDREW YATES RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or “Live” services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/GettyImages)

AFP/Getty Images

Final: Manchester City 1 (Kompany 45+1'), Manchester United 0

[FINAL] - Blue Moon breaks out at the Etihad. Some of United’s players applaud to the crowd as City’s players exchange some measured embraces. Manchester City get a deserved three points. Now sitting on 83 with the better goal difference, the Citizens are in place for their first Premier League title.

90+5' - Balls played to the middle for Rooney whose shot is block. Valencia touches it right for Jones who flicks a ball high to the middle. Hart cames under it then is taken out. Foul. Hart’s knee bent strangely under that one. He’s up and too hurt to take the goal kick, but it doesn’t matter. Whistle blows, and Manchester City is back in first place in the Premier League.

90+5' - Cross from Evra blocked out for a corner. Young plays a bad kick short that’s put into the stands. Throw in.

90+4' - Ball out for a throw to United, and given City’s ability to hold the ball over the last 10 minutes, we’re approaching the point where every chance might be United’s last.

90+3' - City makes their final change. James Milner is coming on for Samir Nasri.

90+2' - United can’t get the ball back. After the restart, City’s maintained possession in the United half. Finally, Valencia fouls Toure.

90+1' - Goal kick for City. There’ll be at least five minutes of extra time.

90' - Another chance for City to put it away. Toure saves a ball from going out, beats Smalling, puts a ball toward the spot from the line. Nasri can’t get it out from under him and has it taken off his feet.

88' - Counter by City down their right sees Nasri and Zabaleta creata chance for Aguero, but the ball in is just behind the striker. Clichy comes on and has a chance saved by De Gea. The rebound is put back in targeting Aguero, but Smalling gets a foot to it. Again, and Ferdinand intercepts.

87' - Restart for City, but United bursts out of their end. Young has it and plays for Giggs who had gone on a forward run. Miscommunication, turnover.

86' - Amid the recent subs, Manchester United seems to have lost their way. City’s easily winning the ball and winning fouls in United’s end.

85' - Turnover for United as they were coming out of their half sees the ball go to Aguero, who feeds to Nasri. Nasri goes 40 seconds worth of dancing toward the sideline before Rio Ferdinand has to give up a throw.

83' - Nani off. Ashley Young on. United out of subs. They’re getting the better crosser on. Expect Smalling to start creeping forward.

82' - Micah Richards is on, David Silva is off. We’ll likely see City switch from a 4-2-3-1 to a 5-4-1/3-6-1.

81'- Toure comes close again. Taking a ball out of his own end, he dribbles to the arc and then tries to curl a ball inside the left post. He just misses.

80' - Approaching the dying moments and United doesn’t have anything going for them. They have most of the ball but none of the chances, and with Rooney committing a foul to try to get open for a pass, they’re starting to show some frustration.

79' - Right now, United has Nani on the left, Valencia on the right, and Welbeck up top. Rooney’s in the middle ahead of Giggs and Carrick

76' - Antonio Valencia is on for Scholes. We’d talked about Scholes and Carrick being redundant, but I didn’t think Ferguson would take his best long-range option off. Coincidentally, Carrick just took a card, colliding with Barry.

75' - Manchester City string together 13 straight passes, kill a lot of time before finding Aguero in the box for a blocked shot. United spring back and feeds a ball for Welbeck who sees De Jong slide through the back of his left leg before the players get within three feet of the ball. Alex Ferguson jumps off the bench and yells at Roberto Mancini, probably complaining about City’s hatchman being brought on. De Jong gets a yellow card.

73' - More and more United’s leaning right (as it their tendency), but that gives Gareth Barry more reason to just camp out near that flank. This time, he’s waiting with Clichy to challenge Nani, winning back possession.

72' - Counter from City sees Touré pick up the ball halfway and carry it to the edge of the area. He launches a rocket that goes just wide of De Gea’s left post.

71' - For as much as they’ve been on the front foot in this half, United has rarely tested Joe Hart. Of course, we were saying the inverse last half - City not testing De Gea. We see how that turned out.

70' - First card of the match. A ball swung out to Nani is left witha bad touch for Phil Jones, who can’t control it. Gareth Barry comes in to take the ball, and Jones’ late lunge catches him. Yellow card.

69' - With Welbeck in, we’re seeing Rooney drop into a support role. United still have one man playing along the line.

68' - De Jong is on for Tevez.

65' - Jones burst forward for the first time tonight but plays are cross long for a City thrown. United’s attacking shape is relying on Scholes as the fulcrum to switch around an ever-deeper City defense. Carrick, staying at the same level, doesn’t seem to have much of a use right now ... not that he’s coming out.

Nigel de Jong is taking off his warm ups.

63' - Although City’s shown more fight than in the half’s opening moments, United remains in control, even if that control sometimes leads to counter attack openings for City. You get the feeling this is how the rest of the match is going to play out. United will assume more and more control. City will be as resilient as possible. Eventually the match will be over.

Incidentally, I forgot to mention that Danny Welbeck had come on for Park Ji-Sung a few minutes ago.

62' - Yaya Toure nearly crafts City’s second goal. Off the restart, the ball is swung right-to-left. Toure is alone with Phil Jones. The City midfielder beats Jones to the line and puts a ball into the crowded six yard box. It’s somebody redirected out.

61' - Zabaleta gets a forearm tot he head as he stays on the ground while Evra jumps into an aerial duel. Whistle by Marriner, but no hint of a potential card.

59' - Our server has decided it doesn’t like me updating this page so often. It’s become pensive.

58' - United through Nan charge into attack, the winger playing a ball back to Rooney at the arc. What looks potential dangerous is defused by Zabaleta.

57' - Counter attack wins a corner for City, their first since scoring on one at the end of the first half. De Gea comes out to punch this one, with the second ball in going wide as Samir Nasri goes for goal

54' - After that brief spell of control, City’s given the impetus back to United, giving us a chance to see a couple of things. First, Park is pushed up high, next to Rooney, when in attack. Perhaps this was a momentary thing. Second, City is still back a little more. And third, Danny Welbeck’s jogging along the sidelines

52' - City forces a corner that leads to nothing, but after another restart we see they’d adjusted. They’re now kicking the ball around, as they have for the last two minutes.

50' - United’s regained their opening match intensity. From a sharp angle on the left, Nani forces a corner, as Hart can’t grab a speculative shot. The question - and it should have been the question in the first half - is whether United will stay this intent until full time.

49' - United’s come out in control, just as they did in the first half. Corner from Giggs from the right forces Hart into a lunging stab, sending the cross out for another corner.

47' - No real evidence of change from either side, but there is evidence Nemanja Vidic still exists. He’s in the stands.

46' - And we are back. United moving from left to right.

[HALFTIME] - A killer late goal from Manchester City has given the league’s best defense a 1-0 home lead as the players read to the dressing room. On the “balance of play,” it’s a fair score. United needs a response - something that will prove Joe Hart’s actually needed today.

45+1' - Real true story about the goal: With Kompany hammered it home, Spanish-language announces on FOX Deportes sang a song about the City defender to the melody of Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf.”

45+1' - And moments after the PA announcer says two minutes of injury time will be added, David Silva swings a corner in to the middle fo the six, easy pickings for Vincent Kompany. Manchester City is up 1-0, and while it hasn’t exactly been coming, it’s not surprising.

45' - Another long spell of action-less possession leads to a corner for Manchester City. Zabaleta’s cross was blocked out. Silva takes it and goes far post but Jones easily beats everybody to it. The second ball comes right to Silva who plays Nasri to the line. Another corner’s won.

42' - United comes back to win a corner of their own, but nothing comes of it. After a goal kick, City re-establishes their presence in United’s third, and when a turnover leads to a prospective United counter, the ball is at Lescott’s feet within seconds.

40' - Cross from United’s right is headed out and, thanks to some good work by Tevez, starts a counter. Carlitos comes deep to claim the ball, holds off two United players and outraces Park to get the ball into the other half. It’s finds its way out to Toure who carries it to the edge of the area, but he’s slowed up enough to allow United to recover. Aguero gets the ball, dances a little, but can only force a corner.

39' - Another big spell of possession (created after a turnover created by Toure) leads to Toure feeding right for Zabaleta, who puts a far post cross in for Aguero. Smalling wins that battle, but the ball is quickly sent back into the six. De Gea catches.

36' - That could have been bad for United. Ball coming down the let is played to the middle fo Tevez, who finds Zabaleta coming on. As he’s about to shoot it’s poked away to Aguero, whose shot is partially blocked. De Gea scoops it up.

36' - City’s new best chance.Barry plays right to Nasri who gets if back to the spot for Aguero. He pops the ball up and tries to volley, but Ferdinand gets a foot in. Aguero ultimately sends it out for a goal kick.

34' - Wayne Rooney talking to Andre Marriner after Tevez, after a poor touch, slides through Phil Jones. Credit to Tevez, he knew he was late. Be pulled his fett back under him to avoid anything dangerous.

32' - United forces a goal kick, yet another indication this match is playing out like so many of Ferguson’s former big Premier League challenges. United came out early, punched their opponent in the mouth, and spent much of the half absorbing pressure, and now as City’s regained some confidence and control, the Red Devils are reasserting themselves. We’ve often seen this ebb-and-flow end with a goal before half, one that leaves the opposition complaining “but we controlled the half!”

Did you?

30' - Rooney fouled as he comes back to help win possession, and he shows some frustration. Replays show him and Kompany going at it, with Rooney arguably giving better than he gets. Now Rooney’s speaking with apparent incredulity to Lescott. “Yeah, they’ve held up really well. I think it’s a really under-told story, too.”

29' - United with their first spell of possession since early, but they never get the ball near the area. They spend most of their time avoiding City’s pressure before finally being dispossessed. City come back quickly and put a cross in from the right that Ferdinand easily handles.

26' - The last 15 minutes have been all Cit, but David de Gea remains untested in goal. In that way, it’s become a very United-y game. They look to be chasing, but the score is still level.

24' - Clichy surges, beats Nani. Nobody’s there to stop him. He gets all the way into the area before Nani slows him up enough. Clichy touches it to Aguero, who has it poked away for a corner. The kick’s played short, Silva’s cross cleared by Rooney, but the second ball comes to Aguero in the right of the area. His shot goes into the stands.

22' - City’s able to string together 10 or 12 passes near United’s penalty area. Eventually they push them too narrow down their left, leave Pablo Zabaleta to get an easy cross in. Smalling outjumps Aguero for it, but City’s patience nearly crafted something.

21' - Maradona in the house. Somewhere in Brazil, Pele’s asking if a plane can be in Manchester within the hour.

19' - United gets another small counter. Ball to Rooney sees the United star cleaned out by Kompany after swinging it wide to Nani. ani plays it diagonally to Giggs, so eventually sends a low ball toward the spot. Yaya Touré is sprawling as he sends the ball clear, Rooney still down at the center line. He’s not off and limping a bit, but he won’t be off for long.

18' - The last five-six minutes has seen City dominate possession, and while that hasn’t yet led to a test of David de Gea, it has reversed the trend with which this match started. United’s no longer dictating things.

16' - First moment of danger, and Manchester City generates is. A ball threaded through the space to the right of Rio Ferdinand gets Carlos Tevez to the line. He puts the ball into the six only to see it cleared out for a throw by Phil Jones.

14' - Shot of Ferguson on the bench. Long black trench. Gum-chew rate normal. Skin pink. All as expected.

13' - If the game’s going to stay like this, United will take it. Neither side has created any danger, but United’s dictated the tempo. Even as City plays the ball in their attacking third, it’s United’s decisions to pressure (or not) that determine how the match is being played.

11' - Again Scholes comes out to press a bit, this time doing so as Barry stands over a ball after a restart.

9' - No doubt United has looked the better side, through Hart has only been called into action once.

8' - United wins another corner, Evra playing it off Zabaleta. Both United’s deep midfielder were right on the edge of the final third, with Giggs having moved in to an inside position as the Red Devils built down the left.

7' - Paul Scholes has always moves forward three times to pressure City’s sitters. It’s like he’s a more fair-skinned Bastian Schweinsteiger ... wait - what am I saying?

6' - David Silva wins City’s first corner and runs right to take it. He swings it in looking near post but is a bit long with it. Cleared by Ferdinand, and United does a good job making sure the second ball never gets sent in.

5' - Clichy puts a cross into the seats, and United gets a minor counter on the restart. Lescott takes care of it, but I’m starting to buy into what I’m being told.

4' - Announcers saying City looks nervy. I’m not sure I buy that entirely, though United does look their confident, calm selves. Joe Hart just put a kick out for a throw while under no pressure ... so maybe there’'s something to the nerves thing.

3' - It’s a relatively bright start for United, with City only getting their first spell on the ball toward the end of the third minute. A venture down the left cut back in showed the congestion City will see any time they bring the ball toward goal.

2' - Some nervous early moments for City. A corner kick played in, and Ryan Giggs is given time in the box to eventually popped a ball up and create a joust. That could have gone all wrong for City.

1' - Manchester United is 4-2-3-1. Giggs is wide left. Park is in front of Carrick and Scholes, with Scholes apparently set to venture forward, as needed.

0' - And we’re off.

[LIMBO] - Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez exchange words at the center line. “Hey, remember when you held the club hostage?” “Yes, how’d that work for you?” “Well, I’m wearing blue.” “Really? I’m a club icon. Weird.”

[LIMBO] - How do you know it’s Monday Night Football in England? Players are standing on the field waiting for Sky to come back from commercial before the match can start.

[LIMBO] - Close up of an intense Wayne Rooney reminds me of an under-told story of the season: His hair transplant has held up very well.

[LIMBO] - Players are lineup on on the pitch and ... yes! ... the handshakes have happened. We can all exhale. That hurdle has been lept.

[LIMBO] - It occurs to me that I’m assuming everybody knows the stakes here. Manchester United is three points up on City, but City will almost surely win the tiebreaker (goal difference) ...

I’m sorry. I’ve just been disproportionately amazed by Gary Neville dragging Wayne Rooney’s face across a video interface. Magical.

[LIMBO] - Well, it’s that time ... the space between broadcast’s start and kickoff. Today’s match is on ESPN and ESPN3, and if you can’t watch, I can only do my best.

9' - Interesting quote from Alex Ferguson, distributed on Twitter via a BBC employee: “We’re going out to win tonight, I’ve never gone for a draw in my life.”

And by interesting, I meant misleading.

-16' - Here are our unsponsored substitutes:

City: Pantilimon, Richards, Kolarov, De Jong, Milner, Balotelli, Dzeko
United: Amos, Rafael, Valencia, Young, Welbeck, Berbatov, Hernandez

So all of Ashley Young, Danny Welback, Dimitar Berbatov, Javier Hernandez, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko are potential subs? Can we just skip to that part now?

-20' - Our second lineup is sponsored by the International Panel for Song Writing Clichés, proud supporters of the blue side of Manchester:

G: Joe Hart
LB: Gael Clichy
CB: Joleon Lescott
CB: Vincent Kompany
RB: Pablo Zabaleta
DM: Gareth Barry
DM: Yaya Touré
M: David Silva
M: Samir Nasri
F: Carlos Tevez
F: Sergio Aguero

Only one surprise: Zabaleta in at right back for Richards. It’s the safe move, not a surprising lean from Roberto Mancini. I wonder how Mancini will feel if Park Ji-Sung is opposite his right back all day?

Other than that, it’s as expected. There’s a lot of firepower here, a lot of creativity, but they’re going to have to deal with a more packed midfield than expected. They’re also going to deal with a beefed up back line.

-25' - Lineup number one come courtesy of Red Devil Fruit Drink (don’t call it Kool-Aid), sponsor of Manchester United:

G: David de Gea
LB: Patrice Evra
CB: Chris Smalling
CB: Rio Ferdinand
RB: Phil Jones
W: Nani
CM: Paul Scholes
CM: Michael Carrick
CM: Ryan Giggs
W: Park Ji-Sung
F: Wayne Rooney

So this is more than a mild surprise. Ferguson’s made major changes, going for a team that you’d be more likely to see for a road leg in Europe. Roberto Mancini should be blushing.

Expect this to be kind of 4-2-3-1-y. Giggs or Park will play in front of Carrick and Scholes, the other joining Nani as wide men. This is team that will slow down the game,have more possession than United’s used to having in these type of games. It’s a team that can get a draw.

That mentality is seen at the back. Phil Jones gets the call over Rafael da Silva. Chris Smalling comes in for Jonny Evans (probably the biggest surprise).

Thems a lot of changes.

-41' - Starting lineups are out. No real surprises. We’ll get to them in a few minutes, though. First ...

Switch your inner monologue to Howard Cosell. Or, if you’re too young to remember what a Howard Cosell is, then think Justin Bieber (you deserve it for not knowing Howard Cosell):

They said the race was dead. But in sport, dead is never what it seems. Two teams, one town, but only one title. And it’s always supposed to go to United. With metronomic regularity, Sir ... Alex ... Ferguson has delivered: 12 times for his red-adorning faithful. But today, the twin brother, the boy so often overlooked, can have their say. Will Manchester City pave their path to their first English ... Premier ... League title. It starts ...


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