Laurence Griffiths

Manchester City vs. Manchester United: Robin van Persie wins stunning spectacle

Five goals, thrown coins, and mad refereeing were the stories at Eastlands on Sunday in one of the best Manchester Derby matches of the modern era.

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Roberto Mancini critical of his own players

What do you do after a tough, heartbreaking derby loss? Criticize your own players, of course.


Tactics the loser in chaotic Manchester derby

Tactical analysis of yesterday's mistake-ridden game is impossible. And that's the problem with Manchester City.


Van Persie wins derby as crowd crosses the line

While it's the most visible aspect of the Manchester Derby, given the timing, late crowd trouble at Eastlands was nowhere near the biggest story in a spectacular match.


Robin van Persie wins it for United

Well then. That's game over at the Etihad, and it's Robin van Persie who's won it for Manchester United. Carlos Tevez gives away a needless free kick, and United's big summer signing stepped up to take it, lashing a brilliant effort into the bottom corner and catching Joe Hart leaning the wrong way via a deflection.

And now things are getting a bit unsavoury. Rio Ferdinand had his celebration interrupted when he was hit in the face by an object thrown from the crowd, and there's a lot of blood on his face. The police have had to intervene, a fan has invaded the pitch, and yeah this is really not fun to watch. But when the dust clears, Manchester United will almost certainly have extended their lead to the top of the table to six points in a game that they very nearly blow. What an incredible end to the Manchester Derby.


Pablo Zabaleta equalises

Forget Edin Dzeko time -- it's Pablo Zabaleta time! The fullback's just produced an absolutely vital goal for Manchester City, who've now clawed their way back from a 2-0 halftime deficit to put themselves in prime position to notch at least a point.

Dzeko had some say in the buildup, putting a huge amount of pressure on the Manchester United back line, and the hosts were eventually able to win a corner. From said set piece, the ball popped out to Zabeleta on the edge of the box, and the Argentine slammed a half-volley through a thicket of legs and straight into David de Gea's bottom corner. It's now 2-2, and City look like they could win this pretty easily.

Sir Alex Ferguson is trying to go for the winner too, introducing Danny Welbeck to see if he can find a goal. Probably too little too late there, but we'll see.


Yaya Toure scores after United see goal disallowed

Oooh, so close to 3-0. A dangerous cross from Antonio Valencia eventually finds its way to Tom Cleverley, who feeds Robin van Persie on the left side of the penalty area. His effort absolutely ruins Joe Hart, who comes nowhere near the curler, and only the left-hand post kept the deficit at two. The ball ricocheted to Ashley Young, who stabbed home, but his strike was ruled out for offside. Possibly incorrectly.

And now Manchester City have scored! Carlos Tevez does superbly to work his way into space, and his initial effort prevents David de Gea from making a clean save. David Silva's followup is clawed away by the goalkeeper, but some more superb work by the substitute eventually sees Yaya Toure sweeping in from near the penalty spot to make it 2-1.

That's a huge turnaround within the span of a minute. Had United gone 3-0 up, this match would have been over. Now the hosts are in with a chance.


2nd half underway at the Etihad

If you missed the first half of this match... well, Manchester United are 2-0 up against Manchester City at the Etihad and the hosts have done basically nothing all match, which is pretty sad. Wayne Rooney has both goals, and Vincent Kompany went off injured shortly after the England international's first strike.

Anyway, we're back up and running in the second half now, with City kicking us off and hoping that they'll be less abject this time out. The win a corner inside twenty seconds -- will anything come from it? No. David Silva's effort flies straight into Robin van Persie at the near post, who volleys clear and forces Gael Clichy to foul Ashley Young. There's some decent news for the hosts, however: Johnny Evans isn't moving right, and it looks as though he'll be replaced by Chris Smalling momentarily. Presumably City would have noticed earlier if they'd attempted to test the United centre backs at all in the first half.

And now Rio Ferdinand's picked up a knock. Hrm.


The Manchester Derby: The first half in GIFs

Joe Hart let in a scuffed trickler, Rooney scored a second, and Mancini reacted with amazement in a great first half in Manchester.


Rooney double has United up 2-0 at the half

In yet another massive game, Manchester United have chosen to start by sitting back, and it's paid off with a couple of impressive counter-attacking goals. While their first had a bit more to do with an error by Joe Hart than the Red Devils' brilliance, the second was an excellent one, and they've very much earned a 2-0 halftime lead over Manchester City.

The home side dominated possession in the early going and looked like the much more likely side to score in the first 15 minutes. Mario Balotelli had the half's first chance after five minutes with a direct free kick that was saved by David De Gea, and the Italian had another excellent chance in the 11th minute that he skied well over the crossbar.

United went ahead in the 16th minute on a counter started by David De Gea, who replaced Anders Lindegaard in net for this match. His throw out to Antonio Valencia caught City a bit off guard, and United eventually worked the ball to Ashley Young. He found Wayne Rooney, who mishit an effort from 12 yards. Fortunately for him, his mishit took the ball right to the far post, and Hart was left stunned. He stood still and watched as the ball slowly dribbled into the net, putting the Red Devils up.

Things quickly got worse for City. Vincent Kompany had to come off injured in the 21st minute, and was replaced by Kolo Toure. Though City's new central defender was not at fault for Rooney's second, it's not hard to let one's mind drift to whether or not Kompany would have closed down Rooney on a 28th minute cross by Rafael, which Toure was slow to do. Rooney's finish was a confident one, and Roberto Mancini has a lot of work to do in the locker room to get his side back in the game.


Rooney doubles lead

'Comical' is how best to describe the stunt Yaya Toure just pulled. Having done well to power through the Manchester United midfield, the Ivory Coast international overhits the ball and then goes down in a heap under the challenge of Rafael. The problem? Toure wasn't touched, nor was it even close. The idea of Rafael successfully fouling Toure is laughable anyway.

Manchester City were made to pay for attempting to perpetrate that sort of cheating shortly thereafter. Antonio Valencia and Rafael combine on the United right, and neither Kolo Toure nor Matija Nastasic can cut out the latter's cross. That allows Wayne Rooney to race onto the ball and lash past Joe Hart (an actual finish this time) to make it 2-0. Should this score hold, and there's little reason to think that it won't, United will be six points clear at the top of the table, having already played at both Stamford Bridge and the Etihad Stadium. Yikes.


Vincent Kompany goes off injured

It's another blow for Manchester City - they've lost their captain, Vincent Kompany, to injury just 20 minutes into the first half.

The Belgian international appeared to be struggling during the game, and was forced to limp off, with Kolo Toure replacing him. With City 1-0 down thanks to Wayne Rooney's opener, it's another setback they could do without, particularly if the injury keeps him out of action for future fixtures - although it didn't appear to be too serious.

Kompany hasn't enjoyed the best of form this season, but he's still an integral part of City's defence, although they were culpable for the opening goal. So far it's been as expected... City dominant over United's nonexistant midfield, but United looking far more dangerous when they do get forward against a dodgy City defence.... one which just got a whole lot dodgier.

Stay tuned to this thread for further updates on the game and Kompany's injury.


Wayne Rooney gives visitors lead

Manchester United are ahead! That's a very cheeky finish from Wayne Rooney, coming after a slick counterattack. Mario Balotelli and Sergio Aguero had come within inches of linking up to put the latter one on one with David de Gea, but a deflection took the ball to the goalkeeper and the visitors went storming up the other end of the pitch, with Robin van Persie flicking to Ashley Young, who had the freedom of the left-hand side to race forward.

With just Wayne Rooney in attendance and two defenders in front of him, the attack didn't look too dangerous, and eventually it ended with a scuffed shot towards Joe Hart's right-hand corner from Rooney. The problem for City? Hart didn't move -- it didn't look like the goalkeeper had any idea that the ball was heading in until it crossed the line. Whoops.

Anyway, 1-0 to Manchester United, whose strategy of sitting back and soaking up pressure looks pretty wise right now.


Match underway at the Etihad

We're off and running at the Etihand Stadium, where Manhcester City are taking on Manchester United. Expect plenty of goals in this one as City attempt to climb back to the top of the table with a win. United, dressed in picnic table red, have kicked us off, immediately giving the ball back to their hosts with a woeful long ball forward by Patrice Evra, which flew straight out of play.

Gareth Barry returns the favour within twenty seconds. A wonderful advert for the Premier League. The long punt-fest is ended by a mistake in midfield allowing the visitors to break forward, but Rafael's cross is easily cut out by Gael Clichy -- a pair of United fouls prevent City from getting too far forward there.

Eventually Rio Ferdinand brings down Sergio Aguero within striking range, giving us our first meaningful action of the match. Mario Balotelli takes the free kick from range, and the ball takes a slight deflection, forcing David de Gea to bat the effort behind for a corner, which comes to nothing. Still 0-0 here.


Manchester City vs. Manchester United: Lineups

Mario Balotelli starts for Manchester City as they face their greatest rivals Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium.

The Italian striker starts with Sergio Aguero just behind as Roberto Mancini rotates his strikers after experimenting with starting with Edin Dzeko in recent weeks. Samir Nasri also starts, as does David Silva, who was an injury doubt for the game.

David de Gea is in goal for Manchester United, with Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley in midfield. Antonio Valencia returns to the side, but there is no Nemanja Vidic for United. Instead of reverting to a diamond, United stick with a 4-4-1-1 shape, with Rooney just behind Robin van Persie up front.

Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Hart; Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Matija Nastasic, Gael Clichy; Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry; Samir Nasri, David Silva, Sergio Aguero; Mario Balotelli.

Manchester United (4-4-1-1): David De Gea; Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra; Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Ashley Young; Rooney; Robin van Persie


An unpredictable mess of a derby

What happens when Manchester United and Manchester City meet on Sunday is anyone's guess.


The case for replacing Sir Alex Ferguson

At long last, the time to replace Alex Ferguson as manager has come. United need to make their move at the end of the season.


United and City: defying analysis, in a bad way

On the back of some awful displays in the Champions League, we're supposed to believe this is a clash of the titans?

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