Well that was some game. Manchester United looked in total control at halftime only to let City get back into the match and nearly throw everything away at the very end. It was hardly the result we were expecting from two vastly experienced sides, especially after the events of the first fifteen minutes. City dominated possession only to let the visitors snatch an exquisite goal on the counterattack, Wayne Rooney and Antonio Valencia combining for a long-range one-two that eventually saw the England striker nod in off the bottom of the crossbar. Minutes later, things got worse for the hosts when captain Vincent Kompany saw red for a two-footed scissor tackle on Nani. It was a harsh sending off, but nowhere near as controversial as it's being painted as.
Up a goal and a man, you'd have put good money on a team managed by Sir Alex Ferguson to put their opponents to the sword, and United looked like obliging for a while, overrunning a makeshift City defence to score twice more before halftime, the first a sweet volley by Danny Welbeck and the second coming after Costel Pantilimon saved a Rooney penalty only to gift the same man with the rebound.
At halftime, Roberto Mancini pulled off both of his wingers to reshape his defence in a move seemingly designed to avoid embarrassment. Instead, City scored almost immediately after the restart, with Patrice Evra fouling Micah Richards within shooting range and Aleksandar Kolarov curled past a stationary Anders Lindegaard, making it 3-1.
More was to come, and the sideshow surrounding the de-retired Paul Scholes took on a more amusing tone when the legendary midfielder gave the ball away on the United left, leading to a fantastic chance for Sergio Aguero. The Argentine's first shot was saved, but Lindegaard couldn't hold onto the ball and the former Atletico man was on hand to smash in his own rebound.
United, who were cruising in the first half, suddenly found themselves only a goal up, and they were having to deal with wave after wave of City attack in front of some very dodgy goalkeeping. David de Gea is one man who'll be happy with Lindegaard's display - the long-time backup flapped at basically everything and came very close to handing the hosts an equaliser on several occasions.
Eventually, the visitors managed to settle down and looked as though they were going to be able to see out the three minutes of injury time without further incident. However, City finally managed to get the ball and scramble it forward to Micah Richards, who was brought down by Rio Ferdinand for one last chance. Kolorav swung it in, Lindegaard spilled, but none of the City players could get on the end of the ball.
After a corner which saw Pantilimon (City's goalkeeper) win a header, Chris Foy blew for full time, and the holders ended up out at the first hurdle. No matter how good the second-half performance was from the hosts, United's display in the first half was worthy of a win. 3-2 sounds just about right.